With this device, Google is borrowing heavily from the time-honored Apple game plan. As Apple repeatedly did brilliantly, during the reign of the late, great Steve Jobs, Google is intent on marketing something that people don’t really need to be happy or successful — but somehow feel that they cannot do without.
Google Glass is a head-mounted instrument that costs in the neighborhood of four figures and gives the customer a look-ma-no-hands technological dalliance. It connects to the Web by Wi-Fi or by a smartphone and contains the means to take photographs, record video, spark video conversations, transmit messages, conduct Google searches, and do additional services.
There is practically no doubt that the technology industry will follow suit, in one way or another.
Ironically, here, Apple is being cast in the uncomfortable role of follower, whatever kind of product it eventually rolls out for consumers. It is reportedly working feverishly on developing a smart watch.
Tim Cook, the low-key Apple CEO, hardly betrayed any of the company’s secrets when he acknowledged at the recent D11 conference that Apple is rather curious. Cook is not given to bouts of glibness or exhilaration, so it was telling when he conceded that he regards the idea of someone WEARING a computer to be nothing less than “profoundly interesting.”
Cook, perhaps hoping to tweak his competitors at Google, allowed that the notion of smart glasses appeared to him to be “risky,” but wearing something on your wrist, by contrast, seemed to be perfectly “natural.”
It’s clear that these devices have already invaded our zeitgeist and become woven into the fabric of American popular culture. The Wall Street Journal did a piece about Google Glass etiquette. (Rule No. 1: “Always remember: You have a camera on your head.”) CNBC’s Carl Quintanilla gave Google Glass a test drive on the air, underscoring how much buzz the device has already amassed in only a few months.
No, I concede that Google Glass will not be a slam-dunk. Glass, first off, lacks the price and practically of Apple, so marketing Glass will present an immediate challenge. The price tag, north of $1,000, might scare off some consumers.
Like the iPhone 4’s voice-modulated answer woman, Siri, Glass might wind up looking like so much hype with little actual substance to back it up. Like many people, I was captivated by those nifty TV commercials for Siri and figured, hey, if it could make John Malkovich, Samuel L. Jackson, and Zooey Deschanel happy, I’ll enjoy it as well. (Fooled again!).
So, what will be the fate of Google Glass?
Let’s recap the innovation. It is unnecessary and unattractive. It is costly and crass. It appeals largely to people who feel a need to show off their wealth and exalted station in society.
It is utterly faddish. And it preys upon our desire to feel cool, regardless of the cost.
Come on. This has success written all over it.
The article Google Glass Is So Costly and Kooky That It Can’t Miss originally appeared on Fool.com.
Jon Friedman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.
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