Apple CEO Tim Cook recently sat down at the D11 Conference with Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, and discussed a host of topics about his company, where it’s headed and how he believes Apple is still changing the world.
But the biggest news from the event was Cook’s comments about his competitor Google and why he believes the search giant’s Glass technology just won’t make it as a mainstream product.
Cook acknowledged that Glass might appeal to some people in the marketplace, but for the typical consumer, it’s not something that will excite them all that much. The technology might be viewed as somewhat interesting by consumers, the Apple chief executive said, but actually getting them to take the leap and make the decision to plunk down cash for wearable glasses just isn’t something that Cook believes will happen in too many cases.
Although Google fans have said Cook is wrong and just competitive, he’s actually right. Google Glass has no chance to appeal to the mass market. The future of Google Glass is in niche markets.
Read on to find out why:
1. It might be expensive
According to Google, if a person who was able to test Glass lost the device, it would cost them $1,500. That doesn’t mean, of course, that Google Glass will cost $1,500 when it launches, but there’s a good chance that it’ll be rather expensive at least to start. The struggle will be to achieve sales volumes that allow Google to reduce the cost while it still makes a profit on each device.
2. What’s the point?
Google must answer one simple question when it launches Glass: What’s the point of owning the device? Yes, I know that it can provide directions and call information and all kinds of other neat things, but consumers will already find all of that functionality built into their computers, smartphones and tablets. Why should they spend more cash on something that they can already do?
3. It’s not exactly a fashion statement
Make no mistake: Fashion plays a crucial role in the ability for Google Glass to win acceptance in the mainstream market. The device needs to be a fashion statement and something that people would be happy to wear or it will only appeal to the so-called “geeks” who really don’t care what they look like when they try out a new piece of wearable computing technology. Judging by its design right now, it’s hard to see it being considered fashionable to the mainstream market.
4. There needs to be a high-end, special app
The idea of the “killer app” is something that can’t be underestimated when evaluating Google Glass. There has to be something special or unique or extremely interesting (from a software perspective) that would make customers actually want to buy the device. Right now, Google’s integrated services aren’t doing it. And Google needs to realize that.
5. Glasses take some getting used to
One of the things Google must overcome is that it takes awhile to get used to wearing glasses, and in some cases, people will stop wearing them altogether because they don’t like having something on their face. Sure a lot of people don’t mind wearing sunglasses even if they don’t need corrective lenses. But if Google Glass takes too long for users to get used to them, the device won’t take off.
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6. Comfort will be a huge factor
Following that, it’s important to think about comfort when evaluating Google Glass. There’s currently no word on how comfortable the glasses are, but judging by their design, there doesn’t appear to be a fully customizable way to ensure they will stand up to the average person’s comfort needs. Considering everyone has different needs to make glasses feel comfortable, that could be trouble for Google Glass.
7. Why will the enterprise care?
The corporate world has become an important consideration in today’s consumer marketplace. Companies are now designing products that will appeal to consumers and could help the enterprise through the so-called BYOD trend. The trouble is Google hasn’t proven that the enterprise will actually care about Glass. And judging by its features, the enterprise has no reason to care. That’s an issue.
8. Google hasn’t solved the prescription issue
Google has yet to fully address the problem of prescription Google Glass. There have been hints that Google Glass will be integrated with prescription corrective lenses, but the company hasn’t said for sure it will happen. If it doesn’t, Google Glass will have an exceedingly difficult time attracting the mainstream consumer.
9. It’s essentially a smartphone competitor
Historically, devices that attempt to compete with smartphones don’t perform all that well. And yet, Google is trying to take on smartphones with Glass. That’s not a good idea. Smartphones can do everything that Glass can do and then some. And they will almost certainly cost less than Google’s wearable technology at least to start. Google needs to find a way to distance Glass from smartphones, or find a way to make the technology complement handsets, or it’s hard to see how it can be successful.
10. It needs to be ‘cool’
As mentioned earlier, Google Glass needs to be a fashion statement when people wear it. But perhaps more than that, it has to be a “cool” device. When the iPod launched, it was cool to own it. The same was true about the iPhone, and now, the Galaxy S 4. If kids and young adults are going to be wearing this product, and that is most likely the market Google is going after, the company will need to do a much, much better job of making Glass cool. It’s an absolute necessity.