I used to have thousands of compact discs and while I was in college would spend hours alphabetizing them in huge folders so that I could seamlessly transition from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to Erykah Badu while cruising in my 1984 Mercury Cougar. Getting an iPod revolutionized the way that I organized my music, but also how I bought it.
Because I used iTunes as the interface to my iPod, it made sense to buy music from the iTunes store, where I downloaded music in Apple’s proprietary format making it much more difficult to use that music on anything but my iPod. The iPod was an incredible blue ocean product, and Apple did an extraordinary job to leverage the iPod to their best advantage. I’m not an Apple fanboy at all, but I have an iPod, iPhone and iPad in large part due to Apple’s “company store” strategy.
A lot of jokes have been made about Google Glasses (aka “Project Glass”), Google’s augmented reality device. A lot of the skepticism focuses on the gaudy (expected) look of them, or at the banal complement of applications that people propose that the glasses can accomplish. I believe that’s small thinking.
Consider the following thought experiment: What if Google sells as many glasses as the Kindle Fire in their first year (about 1 million units a month – so assume 12 million)?
- Why would any business advertise on Foursquare (20 million members, ? active) when they can offer real-time visual enticements to customers in physical proximity to its stores via Google?
- How many of the presumed 12 million users would actively use Facebook if all of their sharing (such as photos) were updated to Google Plus?
- How many additional people would be enticed to migrate to Google Plus with them (i.e. family members, friends) to consume their content? If everyone’s mom migrated with them, could we at least assume that each new pair of glasses would result in +2 (active) users on Google Plus?
Is it possible that Google’s strategy isn’t to differentiate their software substantially from Facebook, but to use their augmented device hardware to make Google Plus their version of the iTunes store? And on top of that to bring additional advertising revenues with a more effective tool to capitalize on geo?
It may be a ridiculous proposal. After all, it’s not like people clamor for the new, hot technological toy. Besides it took Apple 8 years to achieve 100 million iPods sold, which is an average of about 12 million units per year, or one million units per month.