Glass is DeadGoogle Glass is dead.

As in Monty Python and the Holy Grail “I’m not dead yet” kind of dead.

As you may have heard, the primary incarnation of Google Glass, the “Explorer” program, was ended last week.  The program is moving to a different division, with different management (more details here).

I’m finally ready to make my opinion officially known about Google Glass.

It failed.

Very successfully.

And somewhere the Apple Newton will have a friend in tech heaven to hang out with.


Ok, some history.  The Newton was the first handheld computing device that was introduced into the mass market (by Apple).  Apple started working on it back in 1987 (this info is both from memory and Wikepedia.

It wasn’t really the first PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), but it caught the public’s eye.  A complete reimagination of how the user interacts with their computing device (and application).  Remember this was the late 80’s and early 90’s.  The Internet is at best in its infancy.  eCommerce and the dot com bubbles aren’t bubbling yet.  Even Windows ’95 isn’t out yet.

And Apple wanted to completely rebuild the concept of User Experience with this device.

And it failed, in terms of commercial sales.

But it succeeded in terms of giving the industry a chance to learn from the mistakes.  PDA’s evolved quickly, first adding integration with email and other data communicated through direct connection to the PC and then the internet.  Once the web took off, so did the PDA.  Then we added phone capabilities, and the industry never looked back.  We need to also mention that Moore’s Law had something to do with it (the speed at which computer hardware improves for the same cost).

Who made the most of the opportunity?  You could say the early champion was Palm (remember Palm Pilots?) followed by BlackBerry.  And now Google certainly has at least as much of a foothold in the space as Apple (and the momentum seems to be shifting to Google).

Which brings us to Google Glass.  I think that Google Glass had a similar experience.

First of all there’s the perception.  Google Glass has gone from being a really cool experience in terms of what it promised to almost an object of derision (the term “Glasshole,” started initially as a joke, has grown in popularity).  And the services that specifically take advantage of Glass’ unique user interface have been slow to surface.  But that finally started to change, albeit a bit late (click here).

Now, I want to be clear on a couple of things.  First is I’ve been a “Glass Explorer” with Google Glass since late 2013.  Simplex-IT held our first Lunchinar on Google Glass in the summer of 2013.  So we’ve been keeping an eye on the product for some time.

Second is that in the case of the Apple Newton, Apple was actually a latecomer in terms of learning from their own “mistakes.”  The Palm Pilot (around 96 or so) was the first wildly successful device that learned from both the lessons and mistakes that the Apple Newton experienced.  It really wasn’t until the iPhone (2007) that Apple came out with a true computing device (no, the iPod doesn’t count).  Of course it made up for lost time like a banshee.

So, what’s the final chapter for this story?  Well, obviously it hasn’t been written yet.  The market is starting to see a lot of “wearable computing devices” (a lot of them in the health/wellness vertical).  Google certainly isn’t the only organization developing eyewear devices.  I fully suspect we’ll see more devices in that category.

The question is can Google capitalize on their Glass investment before somebody else does?  The experience from Apple would say “no.”  And the fact that Google doesn’t have a lot of history making hardware themselves is also a bit of a strike against them.

But this is Google.  I wouldn’t count them out just yet.