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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.
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Given Apple's product secrecy (and misdirection, for that matter), it's so hard to say if Apple has a "better" wearable in mind. The company either breaks new ground (iPhone) or waits until others show that a market is viable (7-inch tablets) and then tries to redefine it. At least that's what Apple used to do.....
 
Brilliant! :)

Although now it's sinking in, it's quite sad to think even +Robert Scoble  is losing faith in Apple :/
 
It's possible Tim is more an Operations guy. Not the dreamer.
Chris L
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If apple enters the wearable market at they a year behind? Google glass is 7 months away from production and apple is still shunning larger screen smartphones.
 
What Tim Cook needs is somebody who is his exact opposite to share the CEO roll with him 
 
Good write up Robert.  But when Jobs said “These are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA” was this any different to what Cook is doing now with wearables? 
 
+Kevin Tofel Let's give credit where it's due. It was really Amazon and the Kindle Fire that brought 7" tablets to the masses. That success started the Nexus 7 and then the copy cats and Apple. The iPad mini has not broken ground in anyway. 
 
+Nike  is successful because they are a strategic partner to Apple, but +Google Glass isn't because they are not.  It makes perfect sense to Cook.
 
+Arash Soheili that was just an example to explain what I believe is Apple's SOP; not to credit it or discredit others in certain markets. ;)
 
It's not appealing in it's current form.  Wait for Apple Glass.
 
I believe Cook's comment was that no one's made a great wearable product that does more than one thing. The fuelband is very narrow compared to Google glass.
 
I don't think you heard Cook right. He praised the Fuelband as it does one thing pretty well. He said the bands that are designed to multiple things were not very good. I think referring more to the Pebble or other fitness bands that measure activity, diet, and sleep. 

Also he was pretty clear that he believes in the wearables strategy just wasn't sure that wearing something on your face was the answer. I agree. 
 
I'm not sure it has to be an either/or for Apple at this stage.  It seems to me Apple has always been really good at innovating products that already have traction and integrating those into their ecosystem and leveraging them for revenue.  I can see them taking a wait and see approach and jumping on it later.  I don't see them necessarily rushing to the bleeding edge in order to win market share as a bedrock strategy.
Steve Mayne
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I'd wear Apple contact lenses.  iEye will be a huge hit with sailors.
 
>  either Tim Cook has a mind-blowing wearable initiative underway or else

I'd vote for the first option as more probable.
 
I'm not sure it's quite that simple of an either/or scenario.  I don't necessarily see Apple as only releasing "safe" products, but I think Cook's comments simply reflect the different perspectives between Apple and Google.  Google loves to get somewhat raw products like Glass out there so the public can play with them and figure out what to do with them.  Meanwhile, Apple prefers to wait until they have a more complete product.  My point being that I think it's incorrect to say Cook doesn't see the potential in wearables; rather I just think he's willing to wait until they have a great enough product to make people wear them who don't already wear glasses, for example.  At this point, Glass isn't there yet.  But I'm guessing it'll get there soon, and then we'll see if Apple decides to join in.  
 
What has made the last 5-10 years of gadgets so much fun has been that several different companies were pushing each other higher and higher, and forcing ingenious innovation - I fear that if a big elephant like Apple decides to lie down in the rushes, the other elephants will also start to snooze.  Can we rely on 'just' Google and Samsung (both using Android) to take us further? Maybe, but it'll be more fun if Apple is on its game too ...
 
Apple did some amazing things. Currently I am an Android fanboy, but I still love my little second generation 2 GB iPod nano and would never give it up.

Once they came out with the iPhone, they took that concept and ran way too far with it. Gone are the days of getting a nice, simple, little, iPod nano with a click wheel. Now its all touch screen and honestly looks more like an iPhone nano.

What I'm saying is, Apple is starting to literally sell the exact same thing in different sizes, and small feature tweaks.

The iPhone was, I admit, revolutionary. I wanted one myself when they came out. The iPod touch was a great idea as, and I believe I quote, "training wheels for an iPhone", but then they made the nano basically an iPod touch without apps, and now look at OS X. many of the gestures you use on iOS do the same thing on OS X.

I'm tired of seeing them release the same phone with the same features, with a new processor. I'm tired of using touch screens for music. And I am tired of overpaying for something that will become out of date quickly. (Remember how I still diligently use my nano?)

I am actually impressed by OS X currently, but that will get old soon enough.

On a good note, the EarPods impressed me greatly. That is when Apple shines: making something old new again. But they are a tiny little diamond in the rough of the same stuff.

I loved Apple's old stuff. It's new mobile stuff, not so much.

Wow, that was quite a rant!
 
The comment about kids wanting to wear Glass also shows he hasn't seen them in person. I've had little kids who couldn't have been more than 10-12 come up to me asking for all sorts of details about Glass.
 
"Ahh, but that's what makes Apple Apple. Apple has always seen products where others don't." -  perfectly sums up Apple's history under Steve Jobs.  They created new categories where none existed.  So far though there have been no signs that Apple can continue to do that without Jobs. Maybe Tim Cook & co will prove me wrong and surprise us...
 
I would bet that Apple at least has initial thoughts, if not any actual plans in place, on the wearables market and its possibilities.  I have no doubt they would make an awesome product that the fans would jump all over if for no other reason than it is Apple.
 
+Patrick Moore Keep in mind, Apple has dissed every product type right up until the day it releases it's own. Remember all the comments about how bad smaller tablets were, right up until the release of the iPad Mini?
 
I think you heard what you wanted to hear +Robert Scoble +Michael Romig is right. The band from Nike is a one-function type of a device and this is exactly what Tim Cook was pointing at. When asked about multifunctional wearables, Tim stated that there was nothing really spectacular out there at this point of time. So I can't really agree with your take/interpretation of the interview. 
 
Ten years ago we had no idea what we would be wearing today. I am glad they are all out there inventing the future. It would be so boring if all we had was ten years old. No way we can predict ten years from now accurately enough to take sides and make it a war. I'll be happy with whatever these guys Cook up.
 
the world is not the same without Steve! While he may have moved on to a better place, his alter ego (Apple) remains in the hand of mortals. we just have to accept that and stop comparing.
 
In fact, purely in terms of product launches, I see Apple and Samsung swapping stands.
 
"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."  -Steve Jobs

Stay faithful folks, Apple doesn't disappoint 
 
It's easy for the Glass lovers to get up in arms about what Cook said. But here is a further quote that puts some more context into what he's thinking. And I think it's a reasonable point:

 "I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people that wear them that don’t have to. They want them to be light and unobtrusive and reflect their fashion. … I think from a mainstream point of view [glasses as wearable computing devices] are difficult to see. I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural."

This reflects the very widely held opinion that for most people to put something on their face, it has to pass an aesthetic objective that goes beyond functionality. Your average t-shirt wearing tech nerd doesn't care about aesthetics. Most normal people do. 
 
+Kevin Pedraja Well, given the rumors Apple is working on a watch, there's no wonder their CEO would say "meh glasses... but a watch".
 
He says "People won't wear glasses if they don't have to."  What about sunglasses people wear them, and they don't have to wear them.
 
Tim Cook is beginning to sound like Steve Ballmer in my opinion. A tad more cultured but the general tone towards the competition and innovation is the same.
 
A majority of the women I know will not wear Google Glass because most of them are fashion conscious. A lot of men will not wear them because it will make women run the other way. Teens will not wear them because they won't make you appear "cool". There is already backlash regarding Glass, in public places, and it hasn't even launched yet. As Steve Jobs would say, "This product in its current form is DOA." You can quote ME on that, Robert. Google Glass, as is, will fail to gain mass appeal the way smart phones and tablets have.
 
Tim Cook sounding a bit like:
Ed Colligan, Ex-Palm CEO, 16 Nov 2006

"We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone. PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in."
 
+Dale Cawthon Quote from a woman the first day I wore Glass: "You're like the coolest guy I've ever met." Those words had never been spoken in reference to me before.
 
Absolutely correct , best piece by +Robert Scoble in some time. Unfortunately, the Apple's tragedy is that Jobs found really really good second-in-commands but none of them can dream and lead. Next in line - debut of perfectly flat iOS that does not do anything new.
 
One of the things the "public backlash" people need to realize, is that most of the people creating a "public backlash" have never even seen the device, much less tried it on. Their opinions will likely change once they are able to do so.
Sean G
 
+Robert Scoble Why's everything compared to Google. Glass should be the last thing on Apple's mind. Tim Cook is No Steve Jobs! & his BS shipping jobs overseas has shamed American companies.
Google is Google. I admire everyone voting for them. Trying to copy them. But it saddens me. I agree w his view on glass.
Apple needs to Focus on Apple. Fresh design.
Os 11
Apple iMac that gets big enough to hang on the wall.
& new iPhone design.
Borrow a bunch of Android design. Share Apps. Remain friendly w Google.
Funny... To me Google is the New MS. (because of OEMs) but. GOOGLE.
Google is this Generations Apple. They built things off the Web from ground up. Made hacking & Linux cool.
Amazing Tech story. They do Good things. Glass will revolutionize Medical. Cabs. Etc. To me it's 2014 bluetooth. But, well see main stream...
Both companies need to bring manurfacting & Tech jobs home.
Don't bet your Apple on Tim Cook... They need a Hungry CEO. Real innovative type. Not afraid of Risks.

I for one want to see Apple & Google to mend friendships...
Sad Steve Jobs passed SO young... or this would be a different story. Founders make great CEOs. Woz be a better CEO than Tim Cook.
 
+Sean G In this instance I think its appropriate.  Tim Cook was all over Google.
 
You're discounting the power of the Apple CEO putting down a product. One... there are market types who will buy his argument. Two... Apple fanbois who will rally around it.

Of course, if it were Steve Jobs saying it, it'd carry more weight. It wouldn't make him right either.

Good products/ideas will always find a home and grow. No amount of bias will stop it. Tablets weren't an Apple invention.... they just struck at the right "time". Same with touchscreen smartphones. Jobs himself failed with earlier products that were a little "ahead of their time", but many in their blind "fan-dom" will not see things for what they really are.

Good post though. Some strong points made.
Edit: added "not" in 3rd to last sentence. Brain got ahead of the fingers.
David C
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I find it a bit ridiculous how people go to great lengths to claim allegiance to a particular corporation as of they were on the payroll. It is one thing to have a company or product enrich your life in one way or another, and a totally different one to sit here and reach for sword and armor to defend it. 
 
+Robert Scoble Apple and its executives are full of crap and talk down competition... They are trash talkers.... People should use their own brains and stop listening to Apple's secret marketing messages.
 
Considering Apple hired Lisa Jackson,( An anti-business former head of the EPA), I'll take what they say as BS. 
 
I think Apple will trash-talk Google Glass until they have a comparable product, just like they bashed 7 inch tablets before they released the iPad mini.  It reminds me of that line about the politician who was "for something before they were against it".  

It's really hypocritical for Apple to criticize wearable tech, when they have sold wristbands for the iPod nano and everyone keeps speculating about an Apple wristwatch.

The real irony is to hear Tim Cook say people won't wear eyewear if it's not "necessary", yet he wears eyeglasses instead of contact lenses.  While he might not be a good candidate for contact lenses or Lasik, it might simply be that he likes wearing the same accessory he says customers won't!

The market will ultimately decide what tech people will adopt.  But seeing how most non-techies today have smartphones, it would be naive to rule anything out.
 
Apple products are stylish. I remember when white headphones were still a fashion accessory. Star Trek style super-glasses worn on your face don't have that same appeal, no matter how functional they may be. 
 
Apple forgetting its advertising slogan "Think Different"
 
Ridiculous to say that it's "a sad day". Glasses aren't a category yet; they're an experiment. Portable digital music players were an established platform when the iPod was introduced. Same goes for smartphones.

Should glasses take off, then you can begin lamenting the day Apple decided to ignore a market. Right now, glasses are still a pipe dream along the lines of the Newton.
 
+Evan Brody: perhaps that's just what Apple is waiting for, the technology to introduce iContacts.
 
+Robert Scoble: you may be right, but I view many of Apple's innovations to be in reconfigurations of products that already were on the verge of the mainstream (and somewhat mainstream already amongst the geek crowd).
 
" 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. " - Not quite. You're thinking of the iPod, two to three years before the iPhone. iPod 4th gen (photo, color) was the 'no one wants to watch video on a small screen.' The 5th gen that followed it was the one that played video. After 5th gen we got iPhone and iPod Classic, both of which played videos from the very start of their release.
 
Unlike Steve, who liked use bold statement or catchphrase, Tim is very careful with words. A lot of changes have been made since he became the CEO. And about his opinion on Glass, I don't think he would publicly laud a competitor's product in a conference like D—hence making statement that Glass won't get mass appeal. 
Sean G
 
Yeah, I remember Baseball players would go watch their pitching or batting on an iPod to review... It was the coolest thing at the time.
I think? I'm going crazy too...
Sean G
 
I still love the phrase... Glassholes. Congrats on you Mag. & cool to see +Larry Page joking about the shower at Google IO
 
+Robert Scoble I'm inclined to agree.  Tim Cook will have to pull something pretty big out of Apple's hat this year to silence his critics, and I just can't see how that's going to happen.  But my goodness, I hope he proves us wrong.
Sean G
 
Tech is moving too Fast. Apple is stuck... Nothing new. Build some (more) US Factories. Build TVs. iMacs for the wall...
Things haven't changed much since 2011... Motorola has better announcements.
Google has become a Computer manufacturer... Android is on Fire.

Tim Cook seems afraid to fail...
Trends of Asian builds must change 
We NEED bring Tech jobs Home.
Support our economy. Give OUR Future Gen. A chance to Dream! 
 
I agree,and sympathize!!!

McIntosh
 
It was lude and rude for +Walt Mossberg and +Kara Swisher to ask Apple questions about future products. A Corporation that doesn't tell what it about to be announced at a Developer Conference isn't hiding anything. 

Tim Cooks bullshit about nobody wants a wrist device is pure smokescreen. Where else is it gonna go? The head, the wrist and?
Tim Cook blew smoke because +Walt Mossberg  and +Kara Swisher asked questions to put Tim Cook on the spot knowing full well Tim Cook wasn't about to talk about products in the pipeline. 

This is why AllThingsD sucks.
 
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