The Age of the iPod ends... as the age of Glass begins?
This post is inspired by seeing two Verge articles at the top of the front page at the same time: one about the decline of the iPod, the other of Google Glass getting prescription frames.
In a way, I think these two are vastly dissimilar products. The iPod did one thing, and did it so well that it enjoyed massive success, and the lessons learned from its success allowed Apple to build the even more successful iPhone.
Glass, on the other hand, is a product concept without a single solid use-case. Instead, Google is asking people to imagine up the uses, and there has been a large number of these, some useful, some not.
For all that, I think both these products are similar in that they revolutionize personal computing. The iPod showed that great design and simple, user-friendly performance of a task can create a great product, and completely dominate a product category.
Glass, on the other hand, is all over the place. Its easy to say Google should take a leaf out of Apple's book, pick one thing Glass does well, and work to make that an indispensable part of people's life. I can certainly see how Google can strip out the camera, and focus on Glass as a great way to receive notifications, and respond to them by voice.
But I think what society demands off new tech today is very different from what we would accept in the aughts. The iPod, with its simple beauty, stood out in the headache inducing era of the Windows Computer. It promised an age of simply UI, and handheld computers that would be beautiful. That promise has been delivered on, largely by Apple and Google.
Glass, with its "anything is possible" attitude, right away acknowledges the power of the App development model. What Glass is depends on a large part on what uses developers imagine for it. And I believe that's the only way to create and dominate a new product category today.
At the same time, Google needs to keep in mind that great hardware design and User Interface design are still critical. While Glass ver. 1.0 is a marvel of miniaturization, I hope Google iterates swiftly, delivering better looking hardware. The prescription frames they launched encourage that belief, as does the early design of Glass's UI. But there's certainly more to do before Glass can be widely released to the kind of reception the iPod received at launch.