Google Glass is on the Ropes. Could be Finished

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.


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.

Tech News Debris for the Week of March 17


Following up with the preamble on page 1, here is a brilliant assessment of the current state of Apple combined with a reaction to Yukari I. Kane's "Haunted Empire: Apple After Steve Jobs." Here at TMO, several of us think this article by Farhad Manjoo is cogent, succinct and insightful. This is must reading for Particle Debris readers. "Apple After Jobs: Pretty Much the Same as Ever."

Rumors of Apple canceling an unannounced product, like the 12-inch iPad Pro, create an extreme sensation of the bizarre. Even so, it's interesting to read an assessment of what might have been and could be for Apple with a similar product. "Review: 12-inch Galaxy Note Pro is too big for its own good."

Federico Viticci at Macstories is a deep thinker and eloquent writer on all things Mac. This next piece is all about the iWatch, and he mirrors my own thoughts exactly.

Today’s smartphones and tablets know a lot about us, but they don’t really know us. If Apple’s going to enter the wearable market, I believe (or at least, I hope) they will find an obvious benefit of wearing a device that goes beyond displaying notifications on your wrist.

After all, do we really need a smartwatch to remind us of an appointment when we have a $600 iPhone in the other hand? Mr. Viticci's article points the way on how to think about a smartwatch. "Thinking Outside The Watch."

iWatch concept. Image credit: Martin Hajek

A crisis is looming. The idea of unlimited Internet access, from the onset, was a marketing concept. Email and browsing don't chew up bandwidth quite like video. As the demand increased, however, data caps arrived — in part to buy time, in part to stall the extreme users and in part to make more money down the road.

Now, with the introduction of 4K/2160p UHDTV, the TV industry is eager to make this next technological leap, primarily on the Internet. The ISPs and the TV industry are on a collision course with the customer squeezed in between. Here's article with a fun title, but packed with all the technical facts. "'House Of Cards' In 4K Will Eat Broadband Caps Like Popcorn Shrimp." Cute but spot on.

Finally, I've never read anything from Chris Matyszczyk that wasn't delightful, and he's done it again. I know my regular readers will appreciate this,"Your new disease, America: Compulsive gadget-hoarding."


Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page 1) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.