Could Google's inescapable Glass specs really be the next iPhone?

Could Google's inescapable Glass specs really be the next iPhone?

Summary: Whether you like it or not, there will likely be tens of millions of Google's Glass on the streets within the next few years and one analyst believes its impact will be as great as Apple's iconic smartphone.

TOPICS: Google, Hardware

If analysts are on the money, it will be near impossible for people to avoid the Glass gaze in future — and Google's networked specs could be the next iPhone.

There could be millions of networked spectacles worn on the streets and in workplaces in coming years if numbers from analyst house Forrester's recent Glass survey are realised.

Canvassing the opinions of 4,600 adults in the US, the analyst firm found that 12 percent of Americans (21 million people) would be willing to wear augmented reality glasses if they come from a trusted brand.

"We have no doubt that in time, Glass will be the next iPhone — the next great platform for engaging consumers and workers," writes Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.

Exactly when, she doesn't say, but BI Intelligence recently predicted Glass sales will climb from 831,000 in 2014 to 21 million devices in 2018, with prices to fall to $600 by 2016. That could mean as many as 40 million Glass devices in the wild within the next five years. 

So far, Glass has been limited to Explorer developers and is being rolled out to about 8,000 winners of the #ifihadglass competition, so most respondents to Forrester's survey are likely have never worn the product or seen the reaction from others who perhaps don't want their image and location uploaded to Google's servers.

Still, the survey is a sign there could be enough early adopters who are willing to normalise the socially-challenging device, which Google is aiming to sell to the public at large by the end of the year.

Epps is betting Glass has a much bigger impact than less invasive wearables like smartwatches, pointing to its potential in media, banks and retail as a platform to engage with both customers and workers. On the other hand, the analyst also notes that consumers could reject it for the same Bluetooth headsets are not particularly popular. 

Respondents to Forrester's survey were also less keen on wearing networked glasses than a wrist device like a smartwatch or something clipped to clothing (29 percent), like Memoto's always-on life-logging camera.  

2013-06-21 06.35.55 pm
Image credit: Forrester. Source: North American Technographics® Consumer Technology Survey, 2013.


According to Epps, half the early adopters are expected to be Gen Y or Z, while others will be doctors, construction workers and farmers, who see a benefit in having a handsfree device. A company called Dito recently claimed to be working a series of enterprise Glassware apps, including a 3D site simulator for a construction company. 

Adding to Glass' potential is the Glass Collective, a group that includes VC firms Andreeson Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Google Ventures, which are looking to seed hardware and apps for the enterprise and consumers. 

It's not a question of "if" Glass takes off, but "when", Epps reckons.

Topics: Google, Hardware

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • They rarely are on the money.

    "If analysts are on the money . . ."

    . . . they rarely are . . .

    ". . . if numbers from analyst house Forrester's . . ."

    Forrester, 'nuf said. They and Gartner were never accurate.

    Ultimately, it's up to the market to decide, but those two clowns have been so off the mark that I wonder why they still have any credibility.
    • Forget the analysts

      Look what is already being adopted by law enforcement. I live in South Texas where drug trafficking and illegal immigration concerns are high. Law enforcement here are adopting like devices to capture evidence and protect themselves from false accusations of abuse.

      View the video in the following link and you will see a practicle application for law enforcement.!prettyPhoto[gallery]/2/

      Look for this on your local news soon (only without the monkey).
      • A camera vs a view screen are not the same

        people have been running around with cameras forever, but that doesn't mean that they're going to try and use a miniscule viewscreen instead.
        William Farrel
        • You should have thought that one

          out a bit longer.

          Ever hear of binoculars or telescopes? You'd be suprised what you can see via a 5mm lense looking through a telescope.

          BTW - that world is round.
          • Hmmm. So according to your statement

            "I live in South Texas where drug trafficking and illegal immigration concerns are high. Law enforcement here are adopting like devices to capture evidence and protect themselves from false accusations of abuse."

            So your law enforcement officials are finally getting binoculars and telescopes? What did they use before - Pantelegraphs?
            William Farrel
    • Could Google's inescapable Glass specs really be the next iPhone?

      No. It cant.

      So much so that its a purely rediculous question.


      Nothing to do with being a good or bad product either. It simply cannot be the next iPhone. Impossible. I thought most writers here knew enough about the market place at least in the very most general of terms that this sillyness wasnt of issue.
      • "Rediculous"

        I think the question is more greeniculous... ;D
  • Ha Ha

    I think they will be sorely disappointed, work places and businesses, Bars, all sorts of places will ban them, they will be to intrusive , Not to mention wearing them while you drive.
    • And watch assults and batteries rise

      As the peeping toms play geek
    • Wearing them while you drive will be illegal

      due to the increase in traffic accidents because someone was focused on the glasses, and not the road.
      William Farrel
  • At the price tag of the prototype?

    Like it or not, it ain't happening... certainly not in the "millions."
    • That was my thought too

      Another article posted here yesterday said the retail price will be $1,500. I don't see where that tidbit of information was included in the survey...don't you think that would skew the results?

      It's easy for me to say I'd like a Porche, much less easy for me to actually afford to buy one.
    • google wont be greedy

      the cost of making a glass should be less then a smart phone thereis no display as such. Goggle hasnt been greedy in the past like apple. they want the max number of ppl to get to use the tech and not much money from hardware sales.
      i dont think a glass will cost more then 300 which is very affordable but could i think the price will be 150 in 2-3yrs which millions of ppl can afford
      • They are charging

        $1500 for a prototype...
  • No

    There you go, simple answer. There isn't enough people that want to life-log for them to get to iphone proportions. A small black rectangle is really quite discreet, I don't think anyone would claim them same about borg glasses.
    Little Old Man
  • This one goes into the "remind the author of this in 2 years" file.

    Tens of millions of Google Glass? Ha!
    • reminds me of the Segway

      Many years ago before the Segway got released, these so called analysts and researchers (and bloggers) were predicting how whole cities will be transformed because of it. Lol

      Just like the Segway, I could see Glass (stupid name) being used in a small percentage of certain professional markets, I just don't see it being transformative as an iPhone was in the consumer market.

      Gotta love these bloggers prediction though, I am still waiting on GoogleTV to transform the world of television:
      • the problem with segway

        is that its too expensive for most ppl. say it was 2-3X more expensive then a bike then there is a huge market.
        second problem is they never made the technology shrink the size is huge and remains nearly the same size since it first came out.
        it should be 1/3 the size and at the right price ppl would replace thier bikes with it.

        one huge fan onf the seg is none other then apple co-founder steve wozniac he is always with one
  • Hopefully No

    Here's one case I'm hoping privacy laws are enforced, and just in case they're not, I think many businesses will ban them.
  • So ya'll are saying that people will

    continue to walk around with their heads down looking at a phone or phablet? That's disheartening. I give it a better shot at succeeding than the concensus of the comments here. Little Old Man speaks of "life logging". Perhaps, but I don't see that as the killer app with these glasses. No, if you think of the privacy this gadget provides, it might instead be porno. Porno has historically been a significant contributor to Internet innovation, and I can see the possibility of its happening in this space as well.

    Just my one cent.