April 30, 2013

Google Glass: A revolutionary advance


Google’s newest addition gives glimpse into future of technology

Guest post by Robert Scoble

robert-scobleIf you aren’t familiar with Google Glass yet, just wait, you will be. A wearable computer with a head-mounted display, Google Glass is giving users access to information while they’re on the go. After using Google Glass for the past two weeks, I’m sharing my thoughts about the product. How much of a game changer is it? In the end, it will come down to the price.

Over the past wweek I gave five speeches while wearing Google Glass. I passed through airports six times and let hundreds of people try my Glass. I have barely taken it off since getting it other than to sleep.

Here are my impressions:

    I will never live a day of my life from now on without Google Glass (or a competitor). It’s that significant.
  • I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant.
  • The success of this totally depends on price. Each audience I asked at the end of my presentations “who would buy this?” As the price got down to $200 literally every hand went up. At $500, a few hands went up. This was consistent, whether talking with students, or more mainstream, older audiences.
  • Nearly everyone had an emotional outburst of “wow,” “amazing” “that’s crazy” or “stunning.”
  • At NextWeb, 50 people surrounded me and wouldn’t let me leave until they had a chance at trying them. I haven’t seen that kind of product angst at a conference for a while. This happened to me all week long.
  • Most of the privacy concerns I had before coming to Germany just didn’t show up. I was shocked by how few negative reactions I got (only one, where an audience member said he wouldn’t talk to me with them on). Funny, someone asked me to try them in a bathroom (I had them aimed up at that time and refused).
  • I discovered a total generational gap. The older people said they would use them but were far more skeptical and less passionate. The 13- to 21-year-olds I met had different response.

Glass keeps users roped into Google’s services

Google Glass

Let’s cover the price. I bet that CEO Larry Page is considering two price points: something around $500, which would be very profitable. Or $200, which is about what the bill of materials costs. When you tear apart the glasses, like someone else did (I posted that to my Flipboard “Glasshole” magazine), you see a bunch of parts that aren’t expensive. This has been designed for mass production. In other words, millions of units. The only way Google will get there is to price them under $300.

I wouldn’t be shocked if Larry went very aggressive and priced them at $200.

Why would Google do this? Easy. I’m now extremely addicted to Google services. My photos and videos automatically upload to Google+. Adding other services will soon be possible (I just got a Twitter photo app that is being developed by a third party), but turning on automatic uploads to other services will kill my batteries on both my phone and my glasses (which doesn’t have much battery life anyway). So, I’m going to be resistant to adding Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Evernote, and Tumblr to my glasses. This is especially the case when Google+ works darn well and is the default.

Google: Moving away from an advertising-based business model?

Also, Google is forbidding advertising in apps. This is a huge shift for Google’s business model. I believe Larry Page is moving Google from an advertising-based company to a commerce-based company.

The first thing I tried that it failed on was, “Find me a sushi restaurant.” I’m sure that will get fixed soon and Google could conceivably collect a micropayment any time I complete a transaction like reserving a seat at a restaurant or telling a store like Bloomingdales “get me these jeans.”

There are literally billions of dollars to be made with this new commerce-based system, rather than force us to sit and look at ads, the way Facebook and tons of other services do.

Glass increases efficiency with unprecedented accuracy

Google Glasss

When you wear these glasses for two weeks, you realize that having these on opens you up to a new commerce world. Why?

  1. They are much more social than looking at a cell phone. Why? I don’t need to look away from you to use Google, or get directions, or do other things.
  2. The voice works and works with nearly everyone and in every situation. It’s the first product that literally everyone could use with voice. It’s actually quite amazing, even though I know that the magic is that it expects to hear only a small number of things. “OK Glass, take a picture” works. “OK Glass, take a photo” doesn’t. The Glass is forcing your voice commands to be a certain set of commands and no others will be considered. This makes accuracy crazy high, even if you have an accent.

I continue to be amazed with the camera. It totally changes photography and video. Why? I can capture moments. I counted how many seconds it takes to get my smartphone out of my pocket, open it up, find the camera app, wait for it to load, and then take a photo. Six to 12 seconds. With Google Glass? Less than one second. Every time. And I can use it without having hands free, like if I’m carrying groceries in from the car and my kids are doing something cute.

I’ve been telling people that this reminds me of the Apple II, which I unboxed with my dad back in 1977. It was expensive. It didn’t do much. But I knew my life had changed in a big way and would just get better and better. Already this week I’ve gotten a new RSS app, the New York Times App, and a Twitter app with many more on the way.

This is certainly the most interesting new product since the iPhone, and I don’t say that lightly.

Yeah, I could say the camera isn’t good in low light. I could say it doesn’t have enough utility. It looks dorky. It freaks some people out (it’s new, that will go away once they are in the market).

But I don’t care. This has changed my life. I will never live a day without it on. It is that significant.

Now, Larry, if you can find a way to make it $200, you’ll have a major hit on your hands.

Robert Scoble has been blogging at the Scobleizer blog since 2000. He is Startup Liaison for Rackspace and a correspondent for its Building43 blog. Follow him on Google Plus or Twitter at @scobleizer.

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2 thoughts on “Google Glass: A revolutionary advance

  1. I definitely gotta try out one of these suckers! Not sure I’ll wear ’em in the shower, though.