As Google knows well, the success of its much-hyped "Google Glass" may well depend on the people who use it. Or more specifically, on the developers who try it first. As early adopters may remember from the first iPhone, all the apps were designed by Apple. The phone was released without a software developer kit (SDK), meaning there was no way for third parties to make those labels we now live by — Yelp, Facebook, Plants vs. Zombies, Evernote, etc.
What began as an attempt to control the entire experience and ecosystem was short-lived, however, as an SDK was soon released, allowing thousands developers to make the brilliant things that changed peoples lives and continually re-defined what the iPhone could do. And what it was. And soon Apple’s entire strategy shifted — their ads reflected not the phone itself, but all the things that third parties had done with it.
If Google expects Glass to become something more than a niche product, they need to be prepared to do this too. They can make a toy that’s cool and smart with just the right amount of dork-chic, but they need to convince people it’s worth the price. (Not to mention the prominent face space.) And for that, they’ll need developers to build the apps that will change the way you socialize or bike or buy things or fly planes, or whatever it is you already do that could use a some re-inventing.
Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter and CEO of the mobile-payment platform Square, is one of the most successful and highly respected executives in Silicon Valley. Between those two companies he has put dents in the way people communicate, blog, and buy things in the market place. So it should concern Google when his response to Glass is a little tepid.
“I don’t think glasses are the answer,” Dorsey said recently in an interview, when asked what he thought of Google’s new technology.”I think it might be a 10-year answer, but not in the next five years. Maybe if they’re in sunglasses or what not.”
He then moved, not coincidentally, to the wrist — the other much-hyped placement for upcoming wearable technologies. “I think the movement you see around Fitbit, Up, and FuelBand, that seems to be the next step in wearable. So something on the wrist that feels natural, almost feels a bit like jewelry.”
It is widely speculated that Apple is working on a wearable device for the wrist — currently dubbed "iWatch." There may come a day, a few years from now, where paying for your coffee is as simple as flashing your watch at the register. Or maybe your phone. Or maybe just blinking at it.
“Glasses are very compelling,” Dorsey conceded, “and I think it’s an amazing technology, but I just can’t imagine my mom wearing them right now. What is the value of Glass?”