Robert Scoble: I think Google Glass is doomed in 2014
In May, Forbes wrote about Google Glass's #1 Fan Robert Scoble. Scoble is Google Glass's most enthusiastic ambassadors, and "inadvertently did more than any other tech influencer to put Google Glass on the map," Forbes reported. Who can't remember Scoble's crazy Shower picture that went viral? Yet in that same month, Business Insider slammed Google Glass to no end. In Early April, Scoble was quoted saying "I just wore Google's Glasses for 2 Weeks and I'm never taking them off." There's a saying about "Never say Never," and within 8 months, Scoble now writes "It's gotten to the point where even I don't want to wear them around." Yes Google Glasses biggest fan now thinks that Google Glass debuting in 2014 is doomed.
A Few Scoble Points on Why Google Glass is Doomed
The following key points were posted in-part from Scoble's Google+ site:
1. Expectations are too high. These are on our faces and are the most controversial product of my lifetime (and that's saying something). Everyone will compare sales of Google Glass to Apple's iWatch. That is going to bring a raft of "Google Glass isn't popular" kinds of articles. Translation: Glass is doomed.
2. These are too hard to buy and acquire. They need to be custom fitted and, because they have a new user interface, users need a bit of training on how to use them. This is what will keep the price high, not the cost of making the things. If you need to spend an hour or two with a Google employee in a Best Buy just to get them working, that raises the cost and will keep these from being a high-sales item; At least in 2014.
3. Not enough apps. Truth is, while there are many developers excited by Glass, there are many others who look at this and see no market and a very small one that will show up in 2014. So most "pro" developers are taking a wait-and-see approach. Google hasn't helped that by not showing off a store and by making weird rules against advertising without explaining what will be allowed.
4. The current UI can't handle lots of apps. If apps do show up by some miracle how many can you really fit into the small format of Glass? Not many. This thing is gonna break if I tried to put the 300 apps on my MotoX or iPhone onto it. Why? You simply won't scroll through hundreds of apps. Your arm will get tired. And if you add too many it'll decrease voice recognition quality.
5. Battery life. When doing video the battery only lasts 45 minutes AND it gets very hot. I expect that will get fixed, right now video is being compressed in software. I bet that when they release the public version it will be done in hardware. But, what is real-world battery use like? Already Google has had to ratchet back a bunch of features it wanted to include, like automatic uploads of photos. It now only does that when plugged in and on wifi.
6. Photo workflow sucks. Let's say I shot a bunch of photos on my Glass. Can I see them on my iPhone? No. Not immediately. I have to plug it in and be on wifi for that to happen. Can I share from Glass? Yeah, but how do I leave a description? Use my voice, right? But the problem is that isn't very accurate and doesn't work at all in noisy places like rock concerts, which is probably where you mostly want to use Glass. Google needs to make it much easier to push images over to my phone in real time and then let me upload photos and videos from there. Why? I can edit on my phone much nicer than trying to pick out good images on Glass (and try to do something like crop or change image to black and white before uploading -- you'll soon discover there are thousands of limitations to Glass' camera that your iPhone doesn't have).
7. Facebook is our main addiction and I can't do it in Glass. Sorry Google, but Google+ still isn't used by my family, friends, or those I speak with. At one recent conference I asked who isn't on Facebook and only one hand went up. Google+ isn't nearly as ubiquitous or as nice, truth be told, particularly for mobile users. This lack of Facebook support is the #1 thing that pisses me off about Glass. Do you really think Zuckerberg is gonna put his best developers on Glass? Hell no.
8. No contextual filtering. Today Google Glass is pretty stupid, context wise, and makes the experience of using it suck in a lot of ways.
9. Developers are being held back because there isn't any distribution system for apps or Glass experiences. That will get fixed, I'm sure, but right now if a developer wants me to test out a cool app they almost always need physical access to my Glass. That isn't a good way to get lots of people trying/debugging/hyping up apps.
Scoble later writes that he thinks that Glass-like products could be mainstream by 2020; Maybe.
Early On: Google Glass Backlash
In March, before Scoble's commentary on Glass, we posted a report titled "Google Glass: Orwellian Surveillance with Fluffier Branding." In that report we pointed a Seattle bar that had already pre-emptively banned Google Glass from its premises, generating mixed reactions online, but also raising questions about whether Google Glass would present a privacy concern when used in public spaces. The 5 Point Café made its intentions clear with a post on its Facebook page that stated: "For the record, The 5 Point is the first Seattle business to ban in advance Google Glasses. And ass kickings will be encouraged for violators," it said alongside a graphic of an eye adorned with the glasses, and a red cross struck through.
Once the dialog gets going, we begin to see that Google Glass may not be that cool in many circles in the future. Couriers, visitors, janitors all of a sudden become a threat to businesses as these people get into various offices, have access to files late at night and Google Glasses can go live to whoever is wanting information on their competitors."
Legislators in at least three states -- Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia -- have introduced bills that would specifically ban driving with Google Glass. Earlier this month a driver went to court over a traffic violation regarding Google Glass. The case touches several hot-button issues, including distracted driving, wearable technology that will one day become mainstream and how laws often lag technological developments.
The Big Tech Buzz of 2013, Crashes to Earth
One of the biggest tech story buzzes of 2013 was definitely about Google Glass – and just as the New Year begins, Scoble, Google's number one fan, reverses his position and gives it a big thumb's down.
I guess Apple's Tim Cook got it right after all. Cook touched on Google Glass during his D11 Conference interview by saying that "The likelihood that it has a broad range appeal … that's tough to see."