Why Google Glass isn't a Segway+Mike Butcher
, of Techcrunch, just wrote on a comment over on Facebook that Google Glass is the next Segway. He was skeptical from the moment I let him try mine. Just never even gave it a second thought. He's not alone, I've seen dozens of people repeat this refrain on Twitter and here on Google+.
But this isn't a Segway. Here's why not:
1. Segway is, even today, years after launch, $3,000 to buy.
2. Segway never got me excited. I can't use one in my life.
3. Segway has no utility for most of us, who need to commute and carry kids and pick up groceries, etc.
4. Segway just doesn't integrate in a car-based society well.
5. Segway just doesn't provide enough additional value over a $200 bicycle to make it worth it (I just was in the Netherlands where EVERYONE rides to work on low-cost bikes).
6. The reason many of us use bikes is to get exercise. Switching to a Segway has a real lifestyle cost here.
7. UPDATE: Paul Graham says that using a Segway has a "fashion" cost: http://www.paulgraham.com/segway.html
So, let's see if Google Glass measures up.
1. I believe Glass will be $200 to $300 to start and will quickly come down in price after that. Even if it starts at $500, it will quickly come down to $200 over the first three years.
2. Google Glass has me excited and I already own one and will never take it off the rest of my life.
3. Google Glass has instant functionality for 95% of those 400 people who tried it on. It takes a new kind of picture, helps you live your life, and lets you focus on the world around you even while watching your emails and notifications.
4. Google Glass is safer to use when driving than your existing smartphone or even your car's navigation system. It can be used at work. At play. At home. In the mall. Even while watching a movie (if the babysitter is trying to get ahold of you it's a lot better to see that in Glass than on a Smartphone screen because it's less distracting to other people).
5. Google Glass brought me INSTANT value over my smartphone. Yesterday it showed the gate and time of my flight. Even while dragging two suitcases through Amsterdam's airport.
6. Google Glass is the first tech product that actually is usable while getting exercise. Either at the gym, while walking around, or while using my bike.
7. +Tau-Mu Yi
pointed this one out: the Segway stays the same after you buy it. Google Glass gets better and better as more apps come out. Already in the past two days I've gotten three new apps.
8. UPDATE: as to #7 above, there IS a social cost to wearing Google Glass at the moment. Some people think you are a dork. Others might get angry. But unlike the Segway, I can usually turn these people into fans when I show them the utility and when they consider that they will eventually be lower cost than a smartphone.
The two just can't be compared and even the launch was very different.
Segway was hyped up by rich people only. This week I let school teachers and taxi drivers turn mine on. With Google Glass it's the average person that's hyping them up to me. My taxi driver said "this is crazy, I want one." Segway NEVER had that reaction.
I asked five separate audiences about them after showing them off this week. Thousands of people. Nearly every hand went up when I asked if you would buy one if it was $200. That simply NEVER happened with Segway.
Mike Butcher is wrong about this product. See you in 2015 to see just how wrong.
The video below was made by +Nicolas Charbonnier
who has been wearing wearable computers for far longer than I have (he's the one that +Sergey Brin
came up to at CES a few years back and started asking questions about what he used them for).