Google Glass is on the Ropes. Could be Finished

| Particle Debris

Google Glass has been an inspired product. Along the way, however, Google forgot one important thing: to create a thoughtful and beloved product, support it, and develop a considered path to market. That's why Glass looks to be history according to one of its strongest supporters, Robert Scoble.

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When Paul Thurrott launched his straight talk about Windows 8, the fantasy was over for Microsoft. Mr. Thurrott exposed the fundamental weakness of the Windows 8 strategy. The product is now hopelessly damaged, and Microsoft will likely write it off as mistake, like Vista, and move on with Windows 9.

On March 19, Robert "Mister Google Glass" Scoble did the same thing to Goggle. The most notable fan of Google Glass, the ultimate glasshole, has bluntly exposed critical problems with Google's handling of the product.

Mr. Scoble, in a recent Google+ post sums it up:

Larry Page is on stage at TED right now. I'm at home watching. He is not wearing Google Glass.

This fits the new narrative that's going on in my head: that Google doesn't know how to stick with a product. Remember Google Wave? It was a very interesting idea, but Google gave up on it very quickly. Why? Because it was controversial and the execution wasn't good.

R. Scoble when he was in love with Google Glass in early 2013.

Suddenly the stark contrast between Google and Apple is brought into focus. Google has been highly praised lately for its aggressive introduction of technologies, but now we're seeing how a complete product strategy is lacking. Goggle throws cool technology against the wall to see what sticks while Apple thinks deeply about solving fundamental human problems with the assistance technology. That takes more time.

Even Slate has created a holding spot for Google Glass in the Google Graveyard of products.

Because Google has had no well thought-out product strategy and because the technology has basically drifted for two years, Mr. Scoble observes: "Google Glass is a deeply flawed product [emphasis mine]. I wrote about how in my 'Glass is doomed' post."

Part of the problem has been that the social issues of Glass have proved too difficult to overcome. A person near others wearing Google Glass is irrationally ostracized. That's just the way it will be until the technology is so well miniaturized that it's no longer visible to others.

I've seen some last-gasp activity going on by tech writers. Mike Elgan, a fantastic observer and writer, has written what may turn out to be a brilliant epitaph for Google Glass. It boils down to a plea to be loved, yet left alone while in public with Glass, and it's oh-so poignant. "Am I a Glasshole? Or Are You a Self-Absorbed, Irrational Luddite?" The article tells us everything that's wrong about people, but also punctuates everything that's wrong with Glass at the same time.

In another last-gasp attempt to turn the product around, Google itself is trying to undo so many of the Glass myths that have evolved. "The Top 10 Google Glass Myths."

What have we learned? It's a mistake to conclude that because some company has rushed a futuristic product to market with lots of fanfare that Apple is doomed if it doesn't respond in kind right away. Apple's competitors have shown little interest in fundamentally changing the world with deep insights in to industrial design and human factors, and that's why they can toss products and services our way, scattergun, to see what sticks. Only the tech press panics, not Apple.

To put a gentle twist on it, photos of pretty women wearing Google Glass do not fully define a product or create a solid foundation for the product's future. The photos only mask the social reality with a fantasy. For those who have forgotten, we thank Apple every day for its deep insights into product design and its ability to then follow-through in the marketplace with a supported, growing, and eventually a beloved product like the iPod and iPad.

Apple doesn't try to do everything. It says "no!" to a lot of things when there's no fundamental human solution to be embraced. We've been reminded of the truth once again. Pay no attention to the wizards behind their curtains, flashing around their toys.

The week's tech news debris continues on page 2.

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Comments

Baruch Atta

First of all, most Apple devices have a HORRIBLE interface.  Really.  Something an alien life form would design.  Uggg! 

Now commenting on the main point of the article:
“...Part of the problem has been that the social issues of Glass have proved too difficult to overcome. A person near others wearing Google Glass is irrationally ostracized….”
Glass is too expensive to blanket the market.  Only the so-called “glass-holes” can buy them.  We (the tech community) look down condescendingly on them.  If Google wants to make Glass a success, they need to lower the price down to cost, so kids can buy it.  If they want us techies to accept it, they need to make Glass modifiable.  We like to modify things, we are techies. 

William Llewellin

Oh, how quickly you forgot the Apple Newton and the suckers that bought it! Steve Jobs burn in hell.

William Llewellin

Oh how quickly you forget the Apple Newton and the poor suckers who bought it! Steve Jobs burn in hell.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

John, most of the glasshole and ostracism seems to happen in the SF Bay Area. It’s sort of a special place. When GG is priced more affordably, GG Guy will be at worst like Bluetooth Guy. The narrative says he’s a d-bag, but nobody really cares about the narrative.

makuribu

Google Glass is like virtual reality; an innovation that is not only ahead of its time but is unwanted.

3D helmets made people sick. That won’t change until you kidnap babies and raise them with those helmets on 24/7. That makes for a great sci-fi plot but it’s socially unacceptable.

Politicians should expect it, and celebs may want it, but no real person wants voyeurs hanging around recording their every move full time.

I would smack the Google Glass off anybody I met who was looking at me.

Jeromeo Romeo

Basically everything Apple did was done before.

williambanzai7

Basically everything Apple did was done before.

Except they got it right.

Phil Cooper

So, according to Robert Scoble, it’s OK to walk around in public with an Apple fondleslab, oblivious to one’s surroundings and running into obstacles and walking off precipices, while it’s not OK to use a device that gives its owner a better chance at staying alive.  Well, Mr. Scoble doesn’t get to decide.  The market will do that without his help.

Michael Frost

This authors obsession with gushing over Apple. Borders on cultism. What a Marshmellow.

Myles Rothacker

Complete BS article…I wear my glass daily and about 20 people a day ask me about it, I show it to them and what it does with screencast on my Galaxy Note 3. Everyone but one person who I’ve shown it to says they want one. I had one person who said they hated the idea of it but they thought it was magically recording them all the time and putting it online.. Btw that same person I’ve know for while and they got their first smart phone just two years ago… This article is just piling on and they probably have envy.. these technophobic irrationals that cannot see the benefits of not having your face down in a screen and have active notifications in a headup display.

I think as more people have it… The more the general public will know about it and the more they will accept it… Google need to get glass explorers to demo it more and have events /  seminars allowing people to buy the glass for about 500-700 and it will blow up

Arnold Ziffel

Yep, everything  has ever done was done before. /s

John, it looks like this Comments section has become a shit magnet, possibly including me, but I’m a pig, so I’m used to it.

geoduck

Oh how quickly you forget the Apple Newton and the poor suckers who bought it!

The Newton was made for something like five years, longer than most models of Mac. Longer in fact than most devices from any manufacturer. Hardly in the same class as GoogleGlasses that’s not made out of beta and now has become a joke.

Google has a problem in that it’s run by programmers. They think of a cool idea put it together to play with and then lose interest and go onto the next thing. GoogleGlasses are just the latest in a long string (I believe Bryan has written about this several times) of products and services that Google introduced or bought with a smaller company, never marketed or developed properly, lost interest in, and then killed when it became moribund. This is why I always laugh when people say with a straight face that Google is more creative or innovative than apple. Any fourteen year old can think up cool ideas and maybe put together a prototype. There’s more to innovation than just having ideas. EXECUTION is what separates companies like Apple. Apple has ideas, runs them through prototype processes, some are good, some they decide to drop. But when they decide to release something to the public they don’t lose interest and go on to the next cool thing. The item is refined, and developed, and advanced. The Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, all show what happens when adults run a company. They stay with a product and refine it over generations.

That’s another thing about the Newton, over the five years it was on the market, they kept releasing better and better models. If it hadn’t been for the near collapse of the company at the end of the ‘90s it likely would have been the core of the iPod/iPhone. As it was it was jettisoned to save the whole. A pity but needed.

CudaBoy

Yeah, this article isn’t biased much, is it?? A true Drone piece. Let’s start a “Death Knell” for Glass and see how accurate it is. Almost every day I hear about a new group using Glass - the other day it was Doctors and Surgeons.
How quick the Drones forget the Mac Portable, or the Newton, or the printers, or the 20th Anniv.abject failure.  The original Apple DID DIE !! That’s why the word “COMPUTER” was taken out of the corporate name - so, even the Apple Death Knell is a joke purveyed by the Drones. What did die at Apple is obviously imagination. Just like Hollywood that has to answer to greedy stockholders, it’s safer to tow the line and just make sequels.

aardman

So Google is supposedly the new king of tech as appointed by Wall Street and the grand punditry, huh?  A company that has shown time and again that it cannot execute.

MacFrogger

John:  The links in these two articles both go to Elgan’s piece:

“Am I a Glasshole? Or Are You a Self-Absorbed, Irrational Luddite?”

“The Top 10 Google Glass Myths.”

Other than that, here’s the “human factor” that your critics above are missing:  If I walk into a store to go shopping, and I see security cameras all over the place, I’m uncomfortable.  I ask myself - wow..this store is treating me like I’m a shoplifter just for walking in the door!  I don’t feel comfortable, I don’t feel trusted, and I say screw ‘em, they don’t deserve my business. Now here’s the kicker - I’ll walk into another store, and while I suspect there are also cameras watching my shopping, I don’t see them and yes its irrational, but I DON’T feel disrespected because I don’t feel like like I’m being told WE’RE WATCHING YOU, SO BE CAREFUL!  And I assure you I’m not a Luddite.

With respect to the woman who was accosted in the SF bar on Haight - all I can say is that while no one deserves what she got, its sort of like asking a Jewish neighborhood to be tolerant of the Nazis that want to parade through because of free speech.  Yes, there are some who will - with their disapproval - allow your passage, but mostly its like throwing rocks into a hornet’s nest and hoping you won’t get stung.

To the glass holes out there I say: Yes, you have a right to wear them, use them, etc. But many of us don’t appreciate that, unlike with a smart phone that you have to pull out of your pocket and aim at us during which time we have time to react, not all of us are inherently comfortable with your enhanced capabilities.  Yes, some of this is irrational.  Just like when I go shopping.  But while I would probably tolerate someone wearing Glass as they talked with me (perhaps while I’m thinking about how rude they are for not being engaged with me) there are unfortunately others who will react emotionally and like the hornet that comes out to sting or the Holocost survivor who throws a rock out his window act far more “irrationally” than I.  Because we humans are not 100% rational, and that’s a good thing!  Ever hear of something called love?  Just saying’...

Lee Dronick

  Basically everything Apple did was done before.

Except they got it right.

Suppose this wearable that Apple is rumored to have in the mill is not a watch but a stylish pair of iGlasses.

John Martellaro

MacFrogger:  Link fixed.  Thanks.

mhikl

Gruber got it right: “ Scoble, Scoble, Scoble. Glass is so 2012. It’s all about Android Wear watches in 2014.”
Funny, but apropos to Google culture.
And any such sniffle from Apple and ‘Doomed’ is heralded.

MacFrogger

Lee:  Ouch!  But I confess I like your punmanship…  smile

RonMacGuy

Very good, Lee.  Very good.  I must say, with all the trolling going on here, it is nice to see the intelligent and thoughtful insight of our regulars.  Thanks to geoduck, yardman, MacFrogger, Lee Dronick, and mhikl for keeping it real.

I also must say that whenever Apple fans jump to defend Apple, we are called sheep or zealots or Fanboys by the haters, and yet when someone writes a negative google glass assessment, the google lovers come forth in droves.  Very humorous to me, especially the fact that their ENTIRE argument is based not on google glass at all, but on insulting Apple (everything Apple did was done before, remember all the bad stuff Apple has released in the past, something called an Apple fondleslab, John runs a cult, is biased, and is, in fact, a marshmallow - correctly spelled now, nice job Michael Frost - if you are going to insult someone’s intelligence, you may want to use spellcheck…DUH!!).

RonMacGuy

Oh, and I forgot to say, the link to the ‘Google Graveyard of products’ OMG that is so hilarious!!  I remember the google lovers here spouting on about google being able to do so much by scaling up to a million employees - what the heck will they work on when they are killing off so many products and services?!?!?  Really gives a good visual showing how google doesn’t think things through very well!!

Thanks John.

MPL

Im really sick of Fandroids they are the biggest bunch of a holes around. Always looking to start a fight, Get a life!

MacFrogger

RonMacGuy:  Some of the more rabid Fandroids - and yes, let’s be honest, even some of the more rabid Apple Fanboys - actually get their jollies by dropping by their opponents’ “camps” all troll-like to throw rocks into the “hornet’s nest” in a deliberate attempt to provoke the swarm to attack.  In a similar vein, of course the Nazi marcher moving through the Jewish community is not doing it as an exercise in “free speech”, he is doing it with the intent of provoking a strong response or ideally even violence.  The worst of the trolls have nothing constructive to say, and it is best to simply ignore them.  I of course really appreciate it when someone with an opposing POV makes a thoughtful, constructive counter-argument that forces me to…ahem…think different! 

And yeah, like you I thought the best link amongst John’s collected debris this week was the “google graveyard”…HILARIOUS!  And mhiki’s quoting Gruber is soooo spot on!  smile

Lee Dronick

Well it is shame if the Google Glass crosses the Styx. It is a good idea and has very practical applications beyond hipsterism. I was serious when I punned about the iGlasses, Apple or someone else, even Google, could do it better.

  Google has a problem in that it’s run by programmers

That is probably why the clock in early VCRs blinked 12:00. The interface to set the clock made perfect sense to the engineer, but not most to end users. Even now there this sort of stuff sneaks through. Not long ago we were discussing Ford Synch by MicroSoft. In my wife’s car she is set as the primary driver so when we both get in her phone gets synched. Mine is on the list, but there a few too many hoops to go through to synch mine. A list will come up on the touch screen so I tap on my iPhone, but then I need to tap a different button that reads Connect. If I try it using voice control by saying “Connect Lee’s iPhone” then Siri’s twin sister responds with “You can say a command such as ‘Connect device’.” Not that Siri and iOS is perfect, just that the combination seems to make more sense.

Thanks for the compliments.

John Dingler, artist

Superficially, Goggle Glass seemed like a superb fit for a profitable business model: It turned voluntary wearers into Google’s data collection agents. Just imagine the huge amount of data an army of purchasers of GG walking the streets, riding public and private transportation, and dispersed in their homes and businesses could have collected for Google’s ad-based business!

wab95

John:

There is an underlying theme between my two favourite amongst your picks this week, namely Mike Elgan’s piece, ‘Am I a glasshole…?’ and Farhad Manjoo’s deconstruction of Yukari I Kane’s ‘Haunted Empire’, namely that, irrespective of profession, including those whose profession it is to review the industry; specifically that humanity remains challenged by change and the companies whose business it is to purvey it.

However great or small the change, whether it be massive social upheaval such as the civil and human rights movements of the 20th Century, the immigration of people of different backgrounds into a culture at internal equilibrium however limited, like the introduction of eastern Europeans and Jews into early 20th Century USA, artistic such as the Impressionist movement in 19th Century Paris, fashion such as the mainstream adoption of trousers for women in the workplace in latter 20th Century, the speeds we travel, such as the capacity of the ‘iron horse’ (train) to eclipse the speed of the biological horse (and thereby exceed man’s velocity tolerance with disastrous physiological consequence) or even the foods we eat, such as the introduction of sashimi to the West - all have, at their outset, been contemned and condemned in equal measure, and hailed as the harbingers of the destruction of the social fabric, decency, good health, morality, the natural order of things, and simple common sense. And all, without exception, proved to be not simply non-harmful, but beneficial in ways that would have astounded their opponents could they but have seen the future. Hence, the limitless manifestations of human genius in quietly switching sides once time and experience vindicates the value of these changes and relegates the opposition to a sordid display of misbegotten belief and to the dustbin of history. This opposition is no less true, indeed is sharply drawn, in the context of technology and its human interface, with all of the attendant changes to habit and culture that must ensue.

I’ve commented before, and so will spare you its retelling, on at least some of the rationale behind opposition to change, some of which is rooted in sincere even if incorrect conception about how a thing will be used and its future impact on society, while some not simply insincere but a cynical attempt to deny a place of prominence and honour to a change that threatens the hegemony of a limited few whilst simultaneously expanding opportunity to others, even if the ‘other’ is simply a competitor in the industry. In short, our reference frame is the span of a human lifetime, more to the point, our personal human lifetime thus far - a mere handful of decades. Having mastered the skill set to survive in our world, we are threatened by impending change, which in turn could threaten our survival as we understand it. We forget, however, that all cultures and societies are in rapid evolution in arcs that span centuries and millennia, and that such change is essential if we are to adapt and survive as a species, better still, thrive and progress.

What is clear is that Google Glass is an important concept, even if embryonic in phenotype and form, and a first pass at a solution to a problem we implicitly recognise, and that is the sharing of important information in a way that is fluid, real-time, and unimpeding to the sharer. At some point, we will have to find a way to permit ourselves to access information with the ease of a wish and share it with others with no more effort than a thought while we manually continue our work without interruption. Think of a surgeon in the middle of a complex operation who can access assistance, even a consult with a simple voice request, obtain a graphical overlay onto his visual field such that he receives essential guidance for his next immediate actions, and can transmit that back to his consult team in real time on perhaps the far side of the planet - all with the ease of a conversation over coffee. It’s no small wonder that some of my favourite hard sci-fi authors, such as Clarke, Baxter and Robinson (Kim Stanley) have all addressed and solved this problem through brain implants that will enhance both human capacity and communication/information sharing that is unobstructive to our descendants. It’s no small wonder, however, that Google critics no less than the guardians of the social status quo will find all manner of objections to the current device, deriding this attempt with all the fury that fear and self-righteousness can muster. Whatever the fate of this prototype, make no mistake, its progeny has a thriving and integral future in human society.

As for Apple, a company that not only innovates products but industry method, ethos and culture, it will continue to be derided, criticised and wished for dead by virtue of iconoclastic approach to delivering the best products that its creative genius can contribute to that perpetual human progress.

Jamie

Great piece, John, and great comments.

I’ve always felt that a large part of Google’s success, as with Microsoft and Windows, was simply the good luck of fortunate timing and a clear playing field - they were fortunate enough to do search a little bit better than the other guys at a time when that was capable of bolstering them to prominence. Everything since has been either a me-too product or service, or something from a cool nerdy teenaged fantasy (not that there’s anything wrong with those, mind. I state this without avarice, it just is what it is) that has no practical application in the real world, and as the article states, with zero thought given to development beyond conception. Yes, it’s true: having an idea is only the *beginning* of development. The real work comes after something is actually brought to market, and a lot of this stuff will be lucky to EVER leave beta testing. To be fair, Google is not the only company guilty of this.

Still, I suspect another factor is and shall forever be that Google is still in the business of selling information, that’s its bread and butter, not making a real difference in people’s lives which is something that really can’t be faked, at least not interminably.

Jason Czech

Funny how people ‘root’ for one public company over another.  Glass, even if it doesn’t become a mainstream product in the next decade, will be a valuable tool in many professional applications.  If it becomes affordable, younger generations will adopt it, and it’ll thrive.

As for the writer’s comment that “Apple thinks deeply about solving fundamental human problems with the assistance technology.”

I think you can substitute ‘Mr. Jobs’ for ‘Apple’ in this sentence.  It’s yet to be seen what ‘fundamental human problems’ Apple will solve in the post-Jobs era.

Selden

@jmartellaro : Events suggest you don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “Google Glass Products Coming From Ray-Ban, Oakley Eyewear Maker.”
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-03-24/google-glass-products-coming-from-ray-ban-oakley-eyewear-maker

“Google Inc. (GOOG:US) is partnering with Luxottica Group SpA (LUX), which owns eyewear brands Ray-Ban and Oakley, to help the Web company’s Glass eyewear go mainstream.”

David Nine

@William Llewellin “Oh, how quickly you forgot the Apple Newton and the suckers that bought it! Steve Jobs burn in hell.”

Umm..Jobs didn’t develop the Newton..he wasn’t even w/ the company when it was created and launched. The only thing Jobs did with Newton was kill it.

But thanks for playing “I’m a moron!”

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