I do not have a crystal ball, nor is my Google Glass able to predict the future, at least not beyond the upcoming weather but then that’s based on reports from people who get paid to be wrong a lot of the time. (Sorry, meteorologists, but I’m not alone in my assessment of your craft.)
My point is that what I’m about to tell you is a wild guess based on personal opinion with little basis in fact.
The technology represented by Google Glass is not doomed.
Recently, Robert Scoble, one of the first wearers and possibly most outspoken advocate for Google Glass in the past year, posted something on Google+ that was critical of another tech writer’s review of Glass. I believe Matt Honan (who writes for one of my favorite magazines: WIRED) misrepresented what is happening with Glass overall. But I cannot fault him for writing about his personal experiences, since that’s what most of my blog posts are about lately. Nevertheless, in his review of the review and of his own experiences with Glass, Scoble wrote, “Glass is doomed.”
I have lost track of the number of headlines and link-bait articles I have seen crop up since then declaring Glass dead. I find it simultaneously amusing and infuriating how much the world of tech journalism seems to feed upon itself. Scoble’s original full comment was:
But Google Glass is doomed. Why do I say that? Because the tech press tells me so.
The tech press then took part of Scoble’s comment and repeated the out-of-context snippet over and over, apparently following the old public relations adage that if you say something often enough it becomes true.
So let me jump back to where I started — the technology of Google Glass is not doomed. I do not know if Google Glass will survive in the mainstream. I think Scoble makes some good points about its wearability, its functionality and, primarily, its cost to consumers. I also agree with him that some of Glass’ future problems are the result of people having set expectations too high. It’s interesting to me that Scoble is one of those who could not say enough about how life-changing Glass was when he, as one of the tech industry’s cool kids, got to wear it first. Maybe those cool kids are more willing to bash it now because so many others are getting to wear it, too, and so it’s cooler to say it’s not cool anymore. Confused? Sorry, I’ve had a life-long problem with figuring out “cool.”
My personal experience with Glass has been very interesting and exciting and eye-opening. But I’ve also only lived with it for a few weeks. A year from now, maybe I’ll look back and wonder why I was so enamored with the device. Of course, by then, I may have another device to write about — one that builds upon Google’s groundbreaking work to produce a more consumer-friendly and affordable product. And that is my point overall: Google Glass may not last forever, but what it has done for the progress of wearable technology can never be reversed.
I don’t doubt that people said cassettes would never replace LPs, or there were those who doubted CDs could make it because of their price and people would just stick with cassette tapes. I remember when people said we need smaller cell phones, not larger ones. And yet today, I see people running around with “phablets” stuck to their faces as they have phone conversations on devices as large as a memo pad.
Fear of the unknown and early adopters who make inaccurate predictions are nothing new. Unfortunately, we now live in the Internet Age in which a small snippet of one quote taken out of context can be spread like a 140-character wildfire. Imagine if the supposedly historical predictions* noted below had been spread that way and inventions were not allowed to develop into what they are today?
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”
Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943
“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”
Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977
“Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet’s continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse.”
Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995
If that last prediction had come true, I wouldn’t have this blog as an outlet for my thoughts. I suppose some might think that’s a good thing, but I believe this little corner of the world that my writing calls home serves a purpose. My goal is to inform, persuade and perhaps entertain the readers. But most of all, I want to get people talking about things so that, together, we can make predictions, discuss outcomes, take credit when we are right and humbly accept criticism when we are wrong. I suppose Robert Scoble, Matt Honan and I at least have that in common.
Now if I only I was cool, too, whatever that means.