NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- For those of you who are saying that Google's (GOOG) Google Glass will not be a majorconsumer sales success for at least the next two to three years, you areprobably right. Two years from now, Google Glass probably won't havehit 1% consumer market penetration in the U.S.But it will still have been a success. Why? Because of industrialand other business users. Google Glass will come down in price from the initial $1,500, but evenwhen the price hits $999 and $499 and even if there's a major "killerapp," there will be consumer reluctance to buy this product. There islikely greater friction in selling something in that physical formfactor, compared to a smartphone or even a watch. Look at other technologies, however, and you will see that they areoften not adopted by regular consumers first:
- The car: In the beginning, it was a truck, used for utility oftransporting 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 abusiness before they purchased one for home use. Mobile email: In the early days (1999-2001), the BlackBerry wasexclusively a business product. Only in 2002 did it start to become aconsumer product. Videotape recorder: First, it was used in studios. Then, in the1970s, 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 GoogleGlass -- or equivalent -- most or all of the time. Here are some ofthe reasons and benefits:
- For people with direct physical consumer contact -- such as in acar dealership, cafe, hotel or bank -- Google Glass could help identify theconsumer and therefore provide better service. For supervisors, they would have a much better window into howeach employee is acting in their interactions with customers, at alltimes. That whole "This call may be recorded to ensure qualitycustomer service" now takes on a new meaning. You don't think Starbucks ( SBUX) will require all of its employees to wear Glass? Hotelreceptionists? Car service supervisors? Of course they will! The military has probably spent billions of dollars over decadesdeveloping something like Google Glass. As expensive as Google Glassare even today, they are probably a bargain compared to the U.S.government trying to come up with something of the kind. Police and other emergency personnel: For liability andcoordination purposes, Google Glass could greatly improve the accuracyand efficiency of emergency services. Police could identify people,look up license tags, and record interactions with the public as wellas suspects, far better with Google Glass. Ambulance personnel couldget help diagnosing people who are at risk of dying.
What about the impact on Google itself? There are at least twoquestions we have to answer, just for starters: 1. Will Google be first to market? It looks like it. This kind of product requires a lot of resourcesspent on R&D, including time, to make for a good product. Googleitself just barely hit the beta test stage, with final consumerproduct arriving in 2014. It is pretty obvious that Apple ( AAPL), Microsoft ( MSFT), Samsung and others willalso be in this market as soon as they can. Any early time-to-marketadvantage in a field such as this, could prove extremely important,however. 2. Does Android/Chrome have an advantage over iOS and Windows? This is far from clear, but all other things equal, would you ratherbet on what is perceived to be the more open operating systems? Wecan imagine a scenario where all other traditional computing hardwarecompanies, from Samsung to HTC, LG, Huawei, Sony ( SNE), Acer, Asus, Lenovo, HP ( HPQ), Dell ( DELL), Amazon ( AMZN) and many more -- choose to build their owncomputerized eyeglasses based on Android or Chrome OS. It is, of course, not a given that that they would. Perhaps they woulddecide to build their glasses to pair with iOS, Windows or BlackBerry's ( BBRY) OS 10. Given the current rate of innovation and third-party momentum-- including Google's new best friend Facebook ( FB) -- however, I think theodds are in Google's favor now. The early Google Glass thought leaders and pioneers -- so-called"Glassholes" -- who are currently spreading the gospel of totalsocietal transparency and intimidation along the Palo Alto UniversityAvenue cafes, are all pairing them with Android smartphones, notiPhones. As Vlad Lenin said back in 1921, economic power is tocontrol the "commanding heights" of society. In this case of GoogleGlass today, the Glassholes and the smartphones they use -- Android --are the commanding heights of the new increasingly Google-fiedeconomy. Main Street in Peoria hasn't felt it yet, but the drumbeat emanatingfrom Silicon Valley is increasingly in Google's corner. At the time of publication the author was long GOOG, AAPL and FB. Follow @antonwahlman This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.