ok glass, undoom

Friday

03

Jan

¡Stop Press! Glass is doomed.

Doomed Crystal Skull Shotglass - pic discovered courtesy of Chris Messina - the hashtag dude - item available on Amazon

“Google Glass is doomed.” In 2014…says the headline.

So, they say, or so they say, they will say.

Well I’ve done the maths.

Er…fuzzy maths, based on the tweet reaction to Robert Scoble’s widely reported latest comments about Google Glass for 2014.

Actually, this is a little more than a quick snapshot from Topsy, comparing the mentions of Doomed versus Doomed 2014, and the ratio of the former to the latter, is about 2.9, so roughly speaking, two in three mentions of the blog post are misquoting Scoble.

Glass doomed in 2014?

And of course, if you believe what you read, Google Glass is doomed.

As Robert himself wryly admits in his opening paragraph, he loves a headline like anybody else. And so indeed do headline writers, much to the chagrin of a source or a PR team.

If you can’t filter the signal from the noise, then Scobleizer’s doom quote therefore becomes a little warped and he’s no doubt used to that and thrives on the debate – he admits as such in the comments on @andrewgrill’s post  which deals with the influencer aspects of cognoscenti and evangelism marketing.

I disagree this is about an influencer management issue. Cat herding is notoriously tricky and some companies do not truly go there.

So how could someone who taunted us so convincingly that he would never remove Glass, even for an infamous near selfie in the shower, could now go so cold on Glass?

Allow me to offer a different photo please.

Bluto - not doomed

‘Over? Did you say ‘over’?

The doomed reality scenario is infact more nuanced with Glass and if you read beyond the headline, or the retweets and if you observe over time, you may reach a more balanced conclusion.

I suspect this public display of a quasi trough of disillusionment, is more than, just that, and whilst Andrew Grill makes some interesting observations about the influencer management aspects of it, the tech press reaction to Glass has been decidely mixed throughout 2013.

It’s plain to see that pundits and press are not always on the same wavelength.

Despite, Martin’s measured take on it, evidently the sparring goes back some way.

Heck, you only need to read as far as the second paragraph in TNW article to realise that when Scoble says it’s doomed, it’s because the tech press tells him so. Infact Scoble has gone on the record to express what he considers Google Glass as a success and despite the misgivings it’s obvious he maintains a belief in the promise of the device: Read Quote of Robert Scoble’s answer to Technology Trends: Will Google Glass Succeed? on Quora

With the possibility of a wearable device from Apple emerging this year, it’s clear that the subject of wearables will make acres of tech column inches – with inevitable comparisons between devices from tech giants – there are already plenty of Glass alternatives from crowd funded devices to lesser known brands, and yet the b2b market for wearable may not be with us for a while yet.

Indeed other commentators don’t expect the wearable curve to really hockeystick for a while yet.

Business Insider – Google Glass Sales Projections

The Droiders team have been privileged to develop Glassware and proper meddle with device since Q2, 2013 and continue to sense a rabid enthusiasm for Glass from the general public, tech professionals and clients alike.

If we’d believed everything we read, we might have thought that Augmented Reality was not possible with Google Glass, when infact, it was back in August.

Had we not pursued the limits of Glass in early summer 2013, we may not have enjoyed watching a blind person use Glass to read signs on prime time TV or enabled pioneering surgeons to operate wearing Glass.

And while both of these Glassware deployments are nascent, like other Glass developers, we’re developing them to meet client demand in 2014.

Is Glass perfect yet?

Nope, of course not. It’s in beta so to speak. A prototype. With less of a distribution than other infamous Google betas (Gmail was 5 five years in beta), it is constantly being iterated on.

Like other developers, we have provided feedback through official channels to Google and it’s clear the product has a way to go to satisfy all demands. But let’s not forget the software at XE12, has on average been iterated each month and huge strides are being made, especially as the recent GDK allows development access to native sensors of the device.

Only this week, the device became more available to new users as Glass distribution steadily increases with the invitation to purchase Glass for Google Play Music All Access users.

Does the Glass criticism stand up?

Whilst we’re not here to dissect each line of Robert’s post, some things do stand out that are worth a rebuttal.

Where’s the Foursquare app? – Dennis Crowley has already said on the record, that Foursquare will not be available on Glass. Yet. He’s also said about a year ago in Barcelona’s MWC: “Anywhere there’s a screen, we want to put our stuff on it, whether that’s on a phone, or a watch, or whatever.”

Battery life – Granted the battery life is not comparable to a smartphone – and nor would anyone reasonably expect it to be. There are third parties toying with extra battery pack add ons, and you can charge the device on the go if you want with a portable battery as many do.

Not enough apps. UX cannot handle lots of apps – Fair point. If you’re an appovore that is and want to install three hundred apps. Not everyone packs in hundreds of apps to their smartphones. Regular users infact only install about 26. But we get your point, the UX is not perfected for app selection from masses of Glassware. Yet.

26 apps average install

And yes, the official distribution for Apps, excuse me, Glassware, is still in it’s infancy, with only some thirty or so official top flight big brand Glassware available in the boutique store of google.com/myglass whilst the others, that we estimate from the likes of unofficial Glass directories like, Glass Apps, to number in the hundred or so, are only available as sideloaded APK files.

The development of the store and inclusion of more high quality apps will only increase as developers iterate their Glassware. But be aware, many are devising Glassware for b2b and niche usage, and not necessarily chasing a b2c elusive glory of a consumer app to compete with Angry Birds™.

Photo workflow sucks – Well, kinda. I thought that at first, but then again, you do reset your expectations and behaviour with Glass. No, you don’t enjoy full media editing within Glass. But after a trip with them on, and taking a succession of photos and videos, I was unexpectedly offered by Google, a neat little video and photo montage set to music of the whole experience.

So it was through the Google Plus account that this happened with the auto-awesome (love the effect, not the vernacular) film offered to me. The joy and convenience of that nullifies the expectation limitation we can inadvertently set ourselves for Glass. It’s a companion device at the end of the day.

No contextual filtering. Google Glass desperately needs those contextual signals to know when to show you appropriate stuff  – Some of this is already handled with the ever learning Google Now and more of it is possible with highly refined Glassware. Context aware Glassware is a win win for everyone and we agree it’s only the start.

As to if Glass will be a success by 2020, that date is seems an eternity away in tech terms and I think comparisons with the Apple Newton and how long that took, before, it morphed to the iPad and achieved phenomenal success are bordering on the pessimistic.

I asked a couple of leading Glassware developers their opinions of the state of Glass going into 2014.

google-glass-cecilia2rCecilia Abadie of Byte an Atom in San Diego ,known as the developer behind Genie App for Glass, co-founder of LynxFit and also the recipient of the now infamous fine whilst driving with Glass, and more recently on the cover of a Yahoo story about Glass in 2014 had this to say:

For us as a startup trying to help people on their path to health and fitness, Google Glass is the best device today and looking forward into the launch on 2014. There is no other sensor loaded hands free device that can bring workouts to people’s lives in a seamless way, using natural interfaces such as voice and touch and liberating our users from ipads and cellphones that completely disrupt their flow.

Adoption is obviously unpredictable and very arguable at this early point, but from our perspective at Byte an Atom Research, we’re betting strongly on wearables and specifically on Google Glass. We also are big believers on Glass for vertical markets and we believe although it’s early for the ecosystem to be mature it’s getting there. We need to take into consideration that the GDK was launched very recently and that will unleash developers potential.

Noble AckersonNoble Ackerson, also of Byte an Atom, the developer behind the Glassware lynxfit.com which is a fitness app for Glass, comments:

I think it’s bordering on pre-mature at this point to count Glass out as gloom. With that said, I am waiting for Google to provide a distribution channel for my app as well so I agree with the distro point.

So is it doomed? In 2014?


Ultimately the omission of the date of 2014 to this Glass story, can as with any date sensitive remark, massively alter interpretations.

Ask any media pro and they’ll tell you. Even hardened media campaigners on the receiving end of a journalistic probe, like the disgraced rider Lance Armstrong fell prey to it.

This summer just gone, only days before the centenary Tour de France,  he declared to french journalists, that it was impossible to win the Tour [during the period 1999-2005] without drugs, and of course that date part was conveniently omitted or misreported for all manner of mayhem to then be unleashed.

But I digress, the nub of the argument here is that the other wearable elephant in the room that has yet to reveal it’s stripes.

And given this is the Age of Context, I don’t regard this outburst as an outright dismissal of Google Glass, nor is it a public blogger relations breakdown.

Apple will invariably make waves when it shows its hand with a retail distribution advantage and latent goodwill awaiting it’s any new product launch, and herein lies the issue, that metaphorical apples and pear wearables will be compared. Unfairly perhaps.

So does that mean Glass is doomed?

I don’t think so.

Do you?

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