While Google hopes to launch Google Glass by Christmas, there's a lot of speculation as to its acceptance in the business world. Surely with an anticipated price tag of slightly under $1500, at first glance (pun intended), one would think only larger brands would be able to afford this innovative new device.
However, consumers will be getting a lot for their money - think computer head-gear and you will begin to understand how robust Google's eyewear will be. Glass, after all has a processor, memory, and a visual display that is positioned above the eye so that one is able to interact with the virtual world without inhibiting the real one. It has a camera, microphone, and speaker to capture and receive information. It has multiple radios for data communication. Glass also has gyroscopes, an accelerometer, and a compass -- so this compact little device is aware of its context not only to you, but to your location in the physical world as well.
Therefore, my prediction is you will find more small business entrepreneurs versus CEOs of large firms queuing up for a Glass purchase at launch. Similar to when Apple debuted its first iPhone back in 2007, the largest single market for iPhones were small business owners who became the early adopters. Yes, that shiny new thing captured the zeitgeist of those who were willing to pay more than your average phone so they and their small businesses could benefit from a smart new techie tool, in advance of their competitors.
Today, six years later, I'm sure that same buying frenzy is going to be the driver of Glass' early sales. In fact Google has even given a name to this market, calling them Glass Explorers -- while allowing them a way to register for a purchase on their site, even at this early juncture. To justify the purchase of $1500 versus a $350 iPhone, these early adaptors are going to rationalize that they are purchasing a mobile computer armed and equipped with all the social media bells and whistles they could ever want.
As the desktop computers took the place of the printed word, mobile devices offered the added benefit of being able to perform the same functions from anywhere in the world. Moving forward, Glass will take it a step further by virtually attaching the Internet to your head.
In Clive Thompson's NY Times review titled, "Googling Yourself Takes on a Whole New Meaning," he asserts that Google is not concerned about any of the advance criticism that's been cyberventilating the blogosphere. "As far as Google is concerned, any social quirks, tensions or paranoias Glass produces now are just temporary side effects — the kind of things we always confront before a new device becomes necessary, accepted, even beloved," notes Thompson.
In our present state of engaging on the technological landscape, our fingers interact with a computer's keyboard, we carry our smartphones in our hands and our digital watches are worn on our wrists. Google Glass, on the other hand is a game-changer as it goes on our eyes - the "windows to our soul" as Emily Nussbaum decribed them when she saw her husband don a sample pair for the first time.
If not a window to our actual soul, definitely a window to the social media soul that makes up the Web. Google in its omnipotent ability to be omnipresent has engineered its eyewear to not only photograph anything and everything we see in the real world, but also automatically backs it up and shares it on its very own social network, Google+. And while that might not sound like a major innovation at first blush, think about what a threat Glass becomes to Facebook and Instagram, right from the gate.
The convenience factor when compared with one's smart phone is worth noting as well. With a mobile phone, you can only take a photo after you pulled your device from your pocket or briefcase, swiped the screen, perhaps typed in a password, pointed the phone at your subject and then and only then finally snap a photog. With all those time delays, how many photo opportunities did you lose. And even after that smartphone pic is taken, you still have to tap additional app commands to share on your social networks.
The small business folk I'm thinking would gravitate to Glass are journalists and bloggers who would be able to report instantaneously while on a remote assignment, in advance of returning to their computers. Store owners with the use of QR codes would be able to promote specials and discounted promos to consumers who are passing their shops.
Imagine being able to conduct a meeting while walking down the street, while simultaneously reading your emails. You could collaborate with co-workers, read their documents while communicating with them verbally. Small business owners could solve mundane issues quicker, allowing them to spend less time on the tactical and more time on the strategic side of their business.
While semantic technology, augmented realty and the Internet of Things is still in its infancy stage, Glass will only speed up its progress, as small business owners will be able to connect with all the objects in their offices and homes that eventually will be sharing data in real-time. Google has already applied for patents attached to this technology, so Glass will become the hands-down front-runner in this field. Similar to the industrial revolution of the last century, the Semantic Web era is fast approaching and the Big G is once again primed to lead the charge.
It's a brave new world for those who want to become small business visionaries in the 21st Century! Wouldn't you say?
Cartoon by Pulitzer Prize-winning Cartoonist, Steven Breen