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Google Glass Success Will Rely on Business Users

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- For those of you who are saying that Google's (GOOG) Google Glass will not be a major consumer sales success for at least the next two to three years, you are probably right. Two years from now, Google Glass probably won't have hit 1% consumer market penetration in the U.S.

But it will still have been a success. Why? Because of industrial and other business users.

Google Glass will come down in price from the initial $1,500, but even when the price hits $999 and $499 and even if there's a major "killer app," there will be consumer reluctance to buy this product. There is likely greater friction in selling something in that physical form factor, compared to a smartphone or even a watch.

Look at other technologies, however, and you will see that they are often not adopted by regular consumers first:

  • The car: In the beginning, it was a truck, used for utility of transporting things, not used by individuals for pleasure.
  • The fax machine: Before people had them at home, they were in offices.
  • The computer: Most people first encountered a computer in a business before they purchased one for home use.
  • Mobile email: In the early days (1999-2001), the BlackBerry was exclusively a business product. Only in 2002 did it start to become a consumer product.
  • Videotape recorder: First, it was used in studios. Then, in the 1970s, it started migrating to people's homes.

One can easily envision a scenario where a huge percentage of workers (50% or more) in a few short years could be required to wear Google Glass -- or equivalent -- most or all of the time.

Here are some of the reasons and benefits:

  1. For people with direct physical consumer contact -- such as in a car dealership, cafe, hotel or bank -- Google Glass could help identify the consumer and therefore provide better service.
  2. For supervisors, they would have a much better window into how each employee is acting in their interactions with customers, at all times. That whole "This call may be recorded to ensure quality customer service" now takes on a new meaning. You don't think Starbucks (SBUX) will require all of its employees to wear Glass? Hotel receptionists? Car service supervisors? Of course they will!
  3. The military has probably spent billions of dollars over decades developing something like Google Glass. As expensive as Google Glass are even today, they are probably a bargain compared to the U.S. government trying to come up with something of the kind.
  4. Police and other emergency personnel: For liability and coordination purposes, Google Glass could greatly improve the accuracy and efficiency of emergency services. Police could identify people, look up license tags, and record interactions with the public as well as suspects, far better with Google Glass. Ambulance personnel could get help diagnosing people who are at risk of dying.

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