The glass is not half full. It’s empty.
When I first heard about Google’s Glass — eyeglasses that record everything you see — I thought: “Why would anyone want that?” At $1,500 per pair, just about no one did.
It was obvious to me what would happen. First, only men would buy this. Second, the men who did would inevitably forget they were wearing it when heading to the men’s room.
This was dumb. Really, truly dumb. This was “get this into the Harvard Business School’s case studies list of dumbness.” Maybe this was not “New Coke” dumb, but it was at least Microsoft Vista dumb. Maybe even Edsel dumb.
I know that Google has money to burn. But why burn it? Why not just reinvest in whatever is working?
Because they’re techies. They are a company made up of people whose lives are governed by a single standard: “Isn’t this neat?” It then defines neat as geeky.
They took surveys. Did customers want this at $1,500? No. How about at $500? No.
Then someone said: “But it’s really neat.” That was all that needed to be said.
Finally, the burn rate got too high. Google spun off Glass. “Spun off.” That is synonymous with “buried it.”
How dead is this product? We can assess it by paying attention to the statement of the guy in charge, regarding the second person in charge, a woman with the gender-neutral name, Ivy. The product will be put into a company called Nest.
Really. Nest. What does that word call to mind? “Empty Nest.”
He said that the program “broke ground.” What does that call to mind?
Here is the full quotation:
“Early Glass efforts have broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike. I’m excited to be working with Ivy to provide direction and support as she leads the team and we work together to integrate those learnings into future products. I remain fully committed to Nest and am equally excited about our work there, which continues to accelerate.”
“Integrate those learnings.” He actually said this. When someone uses corporatespeak like this, we know the project is dead.
The rest of us, with far less money to burn, stand in awe of just how much money Google has to burn. We ask: “How could any company be this stupid?” The answer is clear: “It has money to burn.”
Buying YouTube, I understand. Google gets ad revenue. But eyeglasses that visibly let people intrude on other people’s lives, making a record of everything they see? Where’s the income stream?
There never was one. There was only this: “Isn’t this neat?”
Note: I found this story on Google News. No doubt, Google tracked my visit. Some record was made about “the number of people reading stories on how Google burns money.” If there are lots of hits, maybe Google will start an entire division for burning money. But it won’t have to. It already has this slogan: “Isn’t this neat?” That is all it needs to burn money.