You Don't Need Instagram on Your Face

This post was originally featured on the Pristine blog.

Most of the media's response towards Google Glass has been negative. Very negative. Sure, there are people who can't envision another day of their lives without it, like Robert Scoble in the shower - but most people find the privacy concerns to be extremely nerve racking, and uncomfortable, and they perceive very little benefit to compensate for that.

They're right.

You don't need Instagram on your face. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or Pintrest. Or Evernote. Or Gmail. Or even Google Maps. The fact of the matter is, your smartphone provides an extremely robust and capable platform to interact with these services. Sure, you could interact with them on Google Glass, but really? Do you need to? No. Your life is just fine even though those apps are "limited" by a piece of multitouch glass in your pocket.

On the other hand, there are lots of professionals that could use Google Glass: doctors, surgeons, architects, construction workers, factory workers, warehouse workers, technicians, and drivers (at least until Google's self driving cars kill their jobs), to name a few.

Google has designed and marketed Glass as a consumer device. They want everyone in the world to wear it all the time. They have a tough battle ahead of them. Even as a Glass enthusiast and developer, I find it hard to believe anyone other than geeks will wear this device in public (but it sure is fun to be the only one in Austin that has it!).

I've argued that eyeware computers should be analyzed along a spectrum: transparency. The most transparent they are, the more consumer facing and socially acceptable they are. Eyeware computers cannot disrupt human eye-to-eye contact; it's too fundamental to basic human communication. You can't walk around the street, or for that matter your house, wearing Oculus Rift. But you can do anything shy of swimming in a pool with Glass.

A few months ago, I used to think that Glass would never be usable for robust enterprise applications because it was designed with consumer limitations in mind. Now, I look at the situation the other way around. Professionals are people too. They don't want to feel awkward wearing a device. Although eyeware computers are inherently awkward in certain ways, Glass does a phenomenal job of reducing that awkwardness as much as possible. The hardware is phenomenally well done and out of the way. It really is, as Google describes it, "there when you need it, and out of sight when you don't."

Atheer and Meta-View present incredible opportunities for insanely awesome enterprise applications. But they are very intimidating. You have to block off your entire face to use them. Very few people will be willing to use such a device without already being comfortable using Glass first.

In the consumer market, I predict that there will be very few successful Glass-first apps. Many existing services will be extended onto Glass, but there won't be many successful consumer apps that are Glass-first. Sure, there will be lots of apps for hobbies, and some of them will see moderate success, but I doubt there will be a single $100M consumer business that is Glass-first.

The enterprise application opportunities are tremendous. Employers will pay for hardware, software, and services if they make their employees more effective and efficient at their jobs. Glass can support an enormous number of job functions.

Glass developers, follow the money.