Google could be prepping for a rebirth of Google Glass with an enterprise spin and the speculation about the move makes sense on many levels. However, Google Glass is likely to face challenges in the enterprises.
According to a report in 9to5 Google, the next Google Glass is an enterprise version. This report is largely based on speculation about a filing with the Federal Communication Commission that went live last week.
This device, dubbed GG1, was only a prototype that was tested. It's a bit of a leap to go from an FCC test to a broad rollout for enterprises. Nevertheless, Google could make worse moves with any spin off of Google Glass.
The case for Google Glass in the enterprise goes like this:
- Glasses with computers and connectivity on board are becoming common in companies in multiple industries.
- There are a bevy of use cases for wearables in the field for everything from augmented reality, overlays with physical objects, directions and mapping.
- Google for Work already has a customer base and the search giant is increasingly landing businesses for its cloud platform. In that regard, Google Glass for enterprises could be sold in bundles with other services.
- Google Glass could still leverage the Android developer ecosystem. Android isn't the top dog in the enterprise (Apple's iOS is), but Google and partners like Samsung are trying to change that equation.
And then there's the reality check. Google Glass worked well in the company's ecosystem. In a nutshell, Glass could have potential for a company that has bet on Google for Work.
Here's the rub: Any wearable device such as smart goggles has to connect to backend systems. That reality means that an enterprise edition of Google Glass would have to play well with everything from SAP to Oracle to vertical specific applications.
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It's unclear whether Google is up to that integration task. Gmail and Calendar is one thing. Hooking up with oil and gas data so a field worker can get information without using his hands is another game entirely.
Companies like Vuzix have pilots in the field and partnerships with the likes of SAP, Nuance and Lenovo. Google could follow the same path, but would need systems integrators on board too. Given Google squashed Glass once (sort of) enterprises are going to wonder if the search giant is serious about the corporate wearable market. If you're a CXO are you going to bet on Glass given the following recent headlines:
- Google Glass headset isn't dead, says Eric Schmidt
- Google pulls plug on Glass, but the idea lives on
- Google Glass: Will it hit the enterprise and when?
In other words, Google apparently isn't sure what it's doing with Glass at work. Meanwhile, Microsoft's HoloLens is largely being billed as an augmented reality device for business. And all of those existing Windows hooks into HoloLens would play well with corporate applications quickly.
Add it up and this fabled Google Glass Enterprise Edition has as many weaknesses as it has strengths. Proceed with those wearable experiments in the enterprise and evaluate a fashionably late Google Glass entry if and when it shows up.