From the cheap seats, Glass is a fascinating story. It could be the next iPhone. Or it could be a Segway for your face. To prevent the latter, Google needs a killer app–something so good that it will change our behavior en masse. But what amazing developer could risk the time and effort today? Even in a best case scenario, Glass–currently at $1500–won’t scale for years to come. Why not just wait and strike if and when the iron is hot?
A trio of venture capitalists including Google Ventures, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers (KPCB), and Andreessen Horowitz has come up with a serious retort. They’ve formed the Glass Collective, which will be giving seed grants (which generally means tens of thousands of dollars) to the developers with the best ideas for Glass. “As the platform matures,” a blog post explains, “our investment strategy will likely evolve as well.”
They’re looking for the ever-elusive “new paradigms” in both the consumer and enterprise space. Messaging, sharing, search, and navigation are all offered as examples prime for disruption. For the three firms, it’s a great nerd photo op, but it’s also a more strict confirmation of something Google has said in several presentations already. They’ve built Glass, which is this amazing hardware platform. But they’re not entirely sure what to do with it. They need developers to fill in the blanks.
And it really does bring us back to the Segway. The Segway was a technical masterpiece powered by an elegant interaction (just lean to go). Some rich dudes loved it. And the rest of us couldn’t afford it, didn’t know where we’d drive it and most certainly didn’t want to be seen on it. The Segway only worked if it scaled; if so many people were driving them, cars could be pushed off the streets at last.
Glass could go down a similar path if it doesn’t find a bit of razzle dazzle, something not just usable but truly awesome. Because while “email in your eyes” may ground the system day to day, to really capture our attention, Glass needs X-ray vision.