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Project Glass is a perfect example of what Google calls “moonshot thinking” – the type of thinking required to take on global-scale problems, define radical solutions to those problems, and succeed in solving those problems through the development of breakthrough technology.
For Google, Glass is a device that could potentially change the way we search, the way we share and the way we interact with the world around us. Make no mistake, Project Glass is extremely ambitious which is part of the reason that it is so exciting. And if Glass succeeds, it could change the way the world sees Google. And no one should be more worried about this than Apple.
Apple is widely regarded as one of the most innovative companies in the world and rightfully so. No one can argue that Apple has continually changed the world by consistently releasing a number of revolutionary products such as the original iPod, the iPhone and iPad. Of course, Apple didn’t invent the MP3 player, the smartphone or the tablet computer. Apple was merely the first company to get these products “right” and it has been considered a market leader ever since.
It doesn’t matter that both Google and Apple have been responsible for a huge amount of innovation in the mobile space, Apple is still seen by many as the more innovative company because it introduced the devices that defined the modern smartphone and tablet computer. This is exactly why Glass is so important for Google because for the first time since the introduction of the iPhone, Google has a chance to drive the mass adoption of a completely new form factor for a mobile device.
In 2013, it will no longer be just about smartphones and tablets. It will be about wearable computers and other smart devices. In typical Apple fashion, almost nothing is known about their new iWatch while Google has gone out of its way to make sure you know they are working on Glass. The question we should be asking is: “Why?”
A recent article on Read Write praised Google for not only the innovative thinking behind Project Glass, but also for the highly transparent and inclusive way that Google has documented the development of the product. Some examples of the way Google has done this include:
- Google’s initial concept video for Project Glass that was released on Google+ before a finished prototype was completed
- Sergey Brin’s highly elaborate product demo of Glass involving a team of skydivers at last year’s Google I/O
- Google releasing another video to give the world its first glimpse of a more refined user interface for Glass a few weeks ago
- Google opening up its “Explorer Program” to the public through its #ifihadglass campaign
It could be said that this approach allows Google to better tap into the wants and needs of users and get feedback that can help shape the development of Glass. This is typical of Google’s approach to product development and could help make the launch of Glass a successful one. But more importantly, this highly public approach is another way that Google can disrupt Apple.
The level of secrecy surrounding the development of any new Apple product usually results in unparalleled levels of anticipation. But Glass is a product with so much potential that it could change the feelings associated with the iWatch from anticipation to expectation. Google is telling us that Glass could be a product that changes the world. If they succeed, they win big. If they don’t, at least they can say they took a shot at the moon. But what about Apple? What will they need to deliver with the iWatch in order to exceed our wildest expectations? Because if they deliver anything less, they will have seen to have failed.
Does Apple have everything to lose and does Google have everything to gain?