Tuesday, March 12, 2013
iWatch vs Google Glass
Few months back when I first heard that Apple may make iWatch. The first thought came to my mind was to ask WTF?! Was Apple supposed to be busy working on the iTV? I did remember what Steve Jobs' autobiography had mentioned that Steve wanted to conquer few more markets in coming years: TV, textbook publishing, and photography. Those things are already kinda underway, iTV is in the work, textbook publishing is aided by its SDK and iPad, photography is aided by iPhone/iPad penetration and probably few years down the road with acquisition/partnership with Lytros. Maybe, there is an sidetrack thing like iCar. I'd never heard of wrist watch to be one of them, certainly not as likely to see the light to be out in the market sooner than the iTV?! Also, though I do wear wrist watch myself, many people that I know of actually are using their mobile phones as watches anyway. To me, wrist watches perhaps have done their 'historical' responsibility of time-telling. Yes, it will certainly be around in future, mostly for the two ends of the market: the cheap one as toys for kids and the Swiss luxury ones as antique, status symbol or collectables. For myself, I do look at my watch few times a day, for checking time purpose only. Actually, I look at my iPhone for the same purpose few times a day as well. As such, why would Apple think about this market?
However, after I read the following few articles, I do see the potential of iWatch and do think that it is the perfect time for Apple to enter this market. I'm not gonna repeat what the authors of the articles have said. But, I do hope some if not all the potentials of what iWatch can do will come true. If so, that would be awesome!
Regarding Google Glass, I didn't have the same reaction as iWatch. I saw few pics of what Sergey Brin and some models with the Google Glass on. Kinda get a feel of what it would look like with that thing on. My thought is mmmmm......ok, it looks like it would use a lots of AR and make us feel like Terminator walking around on the street. Based on further reading, Google thinks that people can potential ditch mobile phone and use the Google Glass instead. Well, that get me thinking......
I don't think Google Glass is gonna be a success in consumer market. These are my views:
1. Glasses itself is an necessity, Google Glass is not
Wearing glasses itself is not a comfortable thing. Most people wear it out of necessity. If not, why would people wear contacts or go Lasik. Mobile phones these days are getting better and better. Surprisingly, even bigger screen phones are more popular and people don't mind to take a bigger screen out most of the time. How can people be convinced that wearing glass is much better than using a mobile phone. Based on what I see so far, I don't see that most people will be convinced. That's why, unless people would think that glasses as a replacement of mobile phone is an necessity, people would not get a Google Glass and ditch their phones.
2. Glasses are fashion accessories but Google Glass is not
Only few people would wear it for fashion. Even for those few sake as an argument, you would need to customize it to make the Google Glass into weird shapes and multi-colors to perform the function as a fashion accessory. I don't think Google would do that, so it means that 3rd party accessory suppliers will need to put accessory on Google Glass itself. Just put aside the size of market demand to justify this accessory market, would that be comfortable to put a pound of plastic and metals on our face, the answer is NO for most people.
3. The problems of operating glasses with web access
Forget the weight, discomfort and the look itself, wearing a glasses that can browse the web/AR all the time is not necessary a good thing. First of all, web info can be a distraction when we are driving, or even walking on the street. It is a matter of safety. Also, with the screen so close to our eyes, would that affect our eyesight? Would it be safe to kids? If you said, the operation of the glasses can be turned off for energy saving or give us a rest. Then, would it mean that we should take off the glasses? Cuz, that's how we use our phone. We put that in our pocket or bag when we are not using it. However, if we put the Google Glass down or away. It kinda defeat the purpose of wearing it all the time. Also, the Glass shouldn't be truly turned off, but rather than in sleep mode. Cuz, we suppose to use it as a phone as well, so we need to make sure the alarm, ringer or whatever will ring for incoming calls. Would putting aside the Glass be an issue? Should it be put in a bag or a case? Cuz, you don't wanna get a scratch on the Glass or get the frame bended. But, putting the Glass on quickly to get a voice or visual call would need a training! Also, from the pics of Google Glass so far, I don't see clearly the earpieces clearly. Would it be a challenge to put the Glass and earpiece on comfortably and quickly all the time? Furthermore, I think the Google Glass is operated by voice. So, it means that we have talk all the time if we want anything done. Seri is still in Beta on iPhone can be a good indicator that operating a gadget through voice is still not matured. Without using Seri, we can still rely our fingers to get things done. But Google Glass doesn't have this option. Another beauty of mobile phone is that we can use Facetime or else to communicate with deaf people via sign language, but how can you do that with Google Glass? I don't think so, unless you stand in front of a mirror. That's silly right?
Further from the above, even when (and I believe it will) voice recognition technology matures, it doesn't address the fundamental issue that not everyone love to say what everything they wanna do out loud in public. Not even getting into driving with the Google Glass on, speaking our mind open all the time out loud is not we would do all the time. Many people often browse private things and curse on the web, but it doesn't mean that they want to let other people know when they are doing that. So, the consequence is that we may need to put on hold on doing or saying something until others are not around. That's not a smooth web using experience for sure. Also, Google Glass can provide instant AR ability and video recording as well. How can people avoid from being filmed? How can cinema prohibit illegal recording? How can we avoid from being instantly recognized? as people can use face-recognition program to spot people that they are interested while the target may not want to be harassed. The further enhancement of the form factor of the Google Glass is expected. Down to a point that it may look like what Tom Cruise was wearing in MI:2. I.e. it looks no different from regular sun-glasses. The good thing is that people may no longer have to feel uncomfortable being looked at by someone with Google Glass. However, it makes it worse that everybody is uncomfortable of being looked at by everyone with glasses on. Cuz, they can't tell if they are being filmed, recognized, etc. All of these are big issues.
As such, I think the success of Google Glass may limited to some professional in certain occasions, like surgeons in surgeries, Navy Seal in missions, divers in dive or explorers in caves, etc.
Considering all of the above, though iWatch and Google Glass are not at direct competition with each other, except that both of them are next step of product development of Apple and Google respectively in the direction of 'wearable mobile technology'. I can't help to predict that iWatch will clearly be the winner. Let's see if my prediction is gonna be right or not in about a year.