Why Apple Didn't Try to Copy Google Glass

Image credit: Google

Google Glass had a nifty sci-fi feel to it when the product first came out. Along the way, however, Google apparently failed to fully appreciate both why the product should exist in the chosen form and the social aspects of the device. Calls for Apple to quickly follow Google's lead now look silly.


The article I'm highlighting this week is: "How Google Totally Botched The Release Of The Most Exciting Consumer Tech Product Since The iPad." While I have my doubts about Business Insider, in general, I have always respected the writing of Jay Yarow.

In this article, Mr. Yarow argues that "Google didn't really know why Glass existed." Glass is a product that is technologically feasible and appeals to our inner-geek, but wasn't ready for primetime. Instead of its value being wholly embraced by the public at large, it was seen by average people as a restricted, expensive nerd-toy used primarily to spy on people. Yarow writes:

Today, people with Glass on their faces are attacked unfairly because it's assumed that only elitist rich tech jerks wear Glass. If this was always for the masses, that might not be the assumption.

So when one of the most vocal and famous proponents of Glass, Robert Scoble, declared recently that the execution by Google hasn't been good, that probably reflected the beginning of the end for the product as we know it now. Observers have noted that it's not a big thing even with Google employees these days.

Mr. Yarow picks up on an important thread. Google didn't prepare Glass as an affordable product for the average technically minded person, like the iPad. Instead, it beta tested the device with a selected number of journalists. Now that the public has its doubts about the product, Google will have to rethink the whole idea.

The scuttlebut is that perhaps in a few years, when the technology is sufficiently small (a contact lens?) and inexpensive that anyone who wants one can wear it with anonymity, then perhaps we'll have a renaissance.

What interests me is that Google Glass has been the source of a pervasive outcry by observers that Apple is behind, Google is beating up on Apple with exciting, new technology, and Apple has lost its ability to innovate. While I admit that I was initially enthusiastic about Google Glass from a technical perspective, I never thought that Apple would or should try to, in a rush, mimic this product.  (I've been more concerned that Apple isn't paying enough attention to personal robots.)

I always keep in mind Tim Cook's comments about how Apple thinks deeply about solutions to basic human problems, and the company does it in a way that millions of people can embrace and love the solution.

Google Glass as a concept for the human being's heads up display isn't a bad idea. It was, however, not designed and rolled out the way Apple typically does things. Now we see the danger of throwing too much against the wall just to look like a cool company. I hope this affair leads to a new, more profound respect for how Apple innovates.

Next: The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 14 on page 2.

The Tech News Debris for the Week of April 14


In parallel to the discussion in the preamble on page 1, Jason Snell at Macworld hammers home the philosophy of Apple and how, despite constant, pervasive and good coverage, some analysts just never get a clue. "iWatch watch: Apple is not here to entertain you."

One would hope the process goes like this. A given observer reads a lot of good articles on what Apple is all about. Those expert Apple journalists explain patiently and logically how Apple works. That should result in some internalization and new perspectives. But, no! The madness continues.


Sony has released pricing and availability on its 4K UHDTVs announced at CES. The 49-inch and 55-inch models will sell for US$2099 and $2999 respectively. These are pretty good prices compared to a year ago when 4K TVs were written off as obscenely priced. My theory is that the relative lack of content, "retina" and HDMI connector issues will sort themselves out and that as consumers start to think about replacing an old HDTV, they'll jump on the new 4K/2160p UHDTVs simply to future-proof themselves at these prices.

Image credit: Sony

Sony's product page notes: "Broadband speed of at least 2.5 Mbps recommended for SD services, 10 Mbps for HD streaming or 4K downloads, 20 Mbps for 4K Ultra HD streaming." 10 Mbps is not uncommon in U.S. homes with good access to broadband. The kicker, still, is that you have to download 4K content to a Sony hard disk system, then play it back later. What were waiting for is 4K DVRs and HDMI 2.0.

All this means that if Apple wanted to build its own UHDTV rather than just another small black box — for the end user directly or for Comcast — it would be feasible and affordable in the coming months.

If you've been in the process of managing or deleting various browser plug-ins located in Macintosh HD > Library > Internet Plug-ins, you may have noticed something new. This article explains (almost) everything about mysterious the "Default Browser Helper" plug-in.

Let's say you live in an area that doesn't get good digital reception from your local HDTV transmission antennas for the local TV stations. So you watch local stations on cable. Suppose a company set up a reception antenna at a great location and charged you a small monthly fee to access that antenna? And then that content would be delivered to you on the Internet. That's exactly what Aereo has been and wants to continue to do, but the TV networks want to make the Aereo method illegal. Here's a very good summary article. "TV’s future is about to be decided by the Supreme Court."

It's just my conjecture, but this could be very good for Apple down the road because it could, with a suitable agreement, marry live sports broadcast on local TV stations with what we normally get on, say, Apple TV.

This next item isn't news so much as it is a brilliant idea worth contemplating. "Defending vertical videos: they're stupid, but it's not your fault." I like it.

Martin Hajek has done it again. This time, he wrote me, "I've made a model of the rumoured iPhone 6 based on the drawings which MacFan 'leaked' last month. On top of that (literally) I've modelled a protective case based on the images which were leaked by Steve Hemmerstoffer." Behold, a good concept of the iPhone 6 and a possible case.

Concept by Martin Hajek

Finally, in my review of MS Word for the iPad, I alluded to the glimmerings of new thinking by Microsoft. John Kirk has taken the concept further and sized up what appears to be some fresh thinking in Redmond. "Say Hello To Microsoft 2.0."


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.