My answer to Tim Cook on Google Glass
When Steve Wozniak was starting Apple he actually didn't want to start a company, he told me (we have been friends since 1989 when he gave me $40,000 for our school's journalism department).
He wanted HP, his current employer, to build personal computers and he was very happy, he told me, to be an engineer at HP forever. It was his dream job.
His boss, though, had a different idea. He didn't think personal computers would sell. He thought they had zero chance of becoming a mainstream item.
He was right in the context of the day. The Apple I only sold a few hundred, mostly to geeks in Palo Alto at the Homebrew Computer Society. The Apple II sold millions, but that hardly was a mainstream product that most people use.
Our expectations, in an age of Facebook, where most people in the modern world are on it, have gotten WAY out of wack.
So, let's look at what Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, said yesterday at the AllThingsD Conference in an interview with +Walt Mossberg
and +Kara Swisher
: ": There are some positives in [Google Glass]. It's probably likely to appeal to certain vertical markets. The likelihood that it has broad appeals is hard to see."
Ahh, but that's what makes Apple Apple. Apple has always seen products where others don't.
In fact, Tim even demonstrates that others have shown that they can be successful making wearables that people don't naturally take to. "I wear a Fuelband, I think Nike did a great job." But in a separate section he admitted that most kids don't wear things on their wrists. That didn't stop Nike, though.
"There are lots of gadgets in the space. I would say that the ones that are doing more than one thing, there's nothing great out there that I've seen. Nothing that's going to convince a kid that's never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. At least I haven't seen it. So there's lots of things to solve in this space."
Wait a second. Is Nike's FuelBand popular or not? In one place he admits that Nike did a great job. In this quote here he said no one has done a great job in wearables. Which is it Mr. Cook?
Steve Jobs used to pull this stuff off so much better. He'd abuse people who could conceive of Apple doing something new. I remember when he told a bunch of press that no one would watch videos on a smartphone. Just before he shipped the ability to do just that.
Tim comes off as trying too hard to not say that Apple will play in the wearables space. If it turns out to be true that Apple doesn't dabble in glasses, I think that's a huge turning point in Apple's culture. So far Apple hasn't avoided a new category just because it might fail.
In fact, Apple's success in the portables, iPods, and even stores, has ALWAYS been questioned by the pundits and "experts."
So, my takeaway from this is: either Tim Cook has a mind-blowing wearable initiative underway or else Apple has taken a different strategy of only doing products that are safe and that will make billions.
If that's true, it'll be a sad day for me as an Apple watcher since 1977.