Google Glass: Smokescreen?

It seems clear that Google did an amazing thing by releasing Glass out into the wild. Articles on it (positive or negative) have appeared in a wide variety of news sources, and no one in technology seems to be able to avoid being quizzed about them, Apple's Tim Cook included.

Meanwhile, for a new product category, this thing alrady has a fair few cool apps, and essentials like Facebook and Twitter got into Glass remarkably quickly. If Google plays this right, by the time Glass is launched, not only will it have penetrated the general public consciousness, it might well roll out with a raft of apps that make it useful. And who knows, maybe Glass, even on launch day, may have more apps than the beleaguered Windows Phone (I kid).

So, a successful hardware beta, all told. But is that all Google is aiming for?

They've got to know that even a first gen device that actually addresses major concerns critics have noted about Glass would still be a niche product. If it matches the first iPhone, that would be staggering, but require amazingly low pricing. And I don't really believe issues with the screen, the battery, the privacy concerns, and so on will all be addressed by launch next year. And while it would be immensely satisfying for Google to know that it really pushed the wearable category forward, and set the tone for the next big hardware frontier, that will be cold comfort in the face of a far less innovative Apple iWatch selling millions and raking in the profits.

Which brings me to my main point. Many have noticed how Glassware can so easily be ported to a great watch, as indeed can the lovely card interface of Google Now. And a watch has a far lower barrier to clear in terms of public acceptance. It would be an enhancement of a wearable that has steeply declined in use since the advent of cell phones.

Added to which, a Google Watch can easily solve the battery life, screen and privacy issues plaguing the Glasses. And by keeping the same processor and other hardware features from Glass, Google can easily port all the Glassware already built for Glass.

On day one, then, the watch can launch with a respectable app portfolio for a new product category. And since APIs and app design guidelines are already in place, and developers will now have two device categories to code for (one out, another for the future but already gaining followers), they'll have more reason to bank on this ecosystem. Meanwhile, Apple will be out with a product that needs to explained to people, and that has no previously released software APIs.

To me, this seems to be the best way Google can capture the wearables market. A watch that can listen to me, serve me Google Now notifications, has Glassware for me to do basic things like tweet and message friends at Facebook, and serve as a home for my phone notifications would be amazing.

Glass, meanwhile, serves as a more premium extension of the watch, a replacement that is for those who want more: a true handsfree system that can also take perspective shots. And it will undoubtedly benefit from app development for the Watch.