Contrary to April 1 reports, the Surface Watch is not yet available. That being the case, we are left with the Apple Watch, which actually is set to release on April 24 — but, you can order one today. If you’re like Christy Turlington, you’re already figuring out ways to use the device to plan large-scale international charitable endeavors.
The Apple Watch does a lot of things, I understand. But, mostly, it’s an even more surreptitious way to access technology, right. Removing and reviewing an entire phone is just so 2014 . . . not to mention totally obvious; but, appearing to check your watch for the time, while you’re actually looking at incoming email: much, much stealthier. And, perhaps the non-obviousness is the crux of the matter, at least as far as wearables are concerned.
I recently interviewed Niki Black, MyCase’s tech evangelist (yes, that’s a real thing), for the Legal Toolkit podcast, on the subject of wearable technology. That episode will release this month, so keep an eye out for it. We were talking about the Apple Watch, and as Nikki was discussing the ways in which she envisioned the device intertwining with our existing workflows, I had a thought: Will the Apple Watch normalize Google Glass?
There may be some merit to the suggestion. People have always worn watches. Of course, people have always worn eyeglasses, too . . . just not ones without lenses and a processor attached to them. Even so, does the fact that people will begin checking email and working online through a watch pave the way for people doing the same thing through a pair of faux eyeglasses? Does it matter that eyes have traditionally been associated with surveillance, whereas the wrist is . . . well, pretty much just a wrist. What is going to be the tipping point for wearable technology? What is the next generation wearable technology product that the majority of people will dismiss as harmless, and eventually begin not to notice at all? If it’s the Apple Watch, does that then mean that Google Glass wearers will be handed a free pass, too? Will people even use both, simultaneously?
When viewed through the lens of history, it seems unlikely that the Apple Watch will normalize Google Glass. In the case of outlier technology, there is a fine line in place, between arriving too early, and getting there too late; and, it’s probably the case that Google Glass arrived too early. The introduction of Google Glass was probably too aggressive a posture, too much of an imposition on the willingness of the populace to disregard privacy concerns, too outward a manifestation of the union of man and technology. The course of popular invention is usually a strict timeline, rather than a massing of successful conversions around a lightning strike-moment. The rise in popularity of the telephone did not bring with it the reconfiguration and resale of original versions of similar technology, or the rapid invention of alternative technologies. Initially, the stress was to build the better version of the existing product; eventually, the angle was to develop new and different methods of communications. In instances where communication is truly revolutionized, it takes some amount of time for society to adjust, and for the market to settle. If the Apple Watch becomes the standard for wearable technology, the race will be on to build the best mousetrap — in this case, the next watch. Then, the Surface Watch will be coming down the pipe; Microsoft will not, instead, choose to resurrect the concept of Google Glass. If the Apple Watch does usher in the era of wearable technology, the wristbound options (including the FitBit, as well) are certain to become only one category of the wearable genre; but, when consumer optics are revisited, it’s likely to be a fresh look that is taken, not a look back at Google Glass.
Perhaps the better question is whether Google Glass normalizes the Apple Watch. To the extent that the extroversion of Glass ends up contrasting with the introversion of Watch, there is probably something to the theory. Do unicycles normalize bicycles? I suppose so, unless you’re a circus bear.
So, if Google Glass has helped to pave some of the way for Apple Watch, and if Apple Watch becomes the turning point for normalizing wearable technology, is Google Glass dead as a doornail, the dodo, the Edsel? Probably. As technology develops, old technology is abandoned, especially that old technology that was never all that popular to begin with. Even in the case of wildly popular technology, it’s still true that when the Model A rolls off the assembly line, the Model T is an instant relic. Even Henry Ford can’t turn back time. The next thing is always the best thing. Was Google Glass a required sacrificial lamb for the acceptance of Apple Watch? Maybe; but, if that is the case, Google Glass is now a very expensive pet rock.
If Apple Watch becomes a wearable institution, what’s left for Google Glass? The best case scenario is that Google overhauls the project, and a less obtrusive model becomes the standard bearer for the class of wearables associated with the eyes. The worst case scenario is total annihilation. Somewhere in between is a special exception (dispensation?). The Segway didn’t revolutionize personal transportation (which is maybe for the best); but, it did spawn significant change within the city touring industry. Maybe the ultimate fate of Glass is that it becomes a tool for surgeons, or teachers, or related professionals, without ever gaining widespread public use.
Has the time for Glass passed? Watch, and find out!
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If you want to talk Apple Watch with Niki Black, in-person, she’s in Boston April 24: http://nylawblog.typepad.com/suigeneris/2015/04/join-me-for-drink-in-boston-on-424.html. I mean, Ambrogi and the Klev will be there.
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Gord’s Gold — a truer valuation was never made.
I’m not Canadian; but, Gordon Lightfoot, the cowboy of the Great North, is a musical institution unbounded by national affiliation. He was great, his lyrics were great, his band was great — especially Red Shea. He wrote the most depressing Christmas song of all-time, which Jamie still refuses to release on a Christmas CD.
I wrote about him last time I posted; now, I’m writing about him again.
The back catalogue is pretty damn outstanding, as well.