Just last week Google broke the news that Glass is moving out of Google[x] and into a standalone company within Google. Of course the first thing I heard from the jolly masses was, “did you hear glass is dead?” Of course reading the official release tells quite a different story, and glass is not dead at all. But this got me thinking about the future, how fast its coming, and how some try to resist it.
This is a post about the future. It’s not a prediction or prognostication — it’s an observation stemming from quietly and intently observing those that are our future — our children.
My kids have had an iPad or iPod touch since before they turned two. As if by divine intervention they learned to navigate to Netflix and find their favorite shows before they could find the potty or string words into a sentence. They’re a bit older now, so they’ve spent years already growing up with this technology, and by the time they are college age will have spent well over a decade.
Last summer we went to my parents house. They still overpay for extended cable options, which is ironic because the model has them pay extra to watch commercials — but that’s for another post. Anyway, my kids don’t know what a commercial is. Think about that for a second. Imagine the breakdown a four year old can have when “someone turns off his show”, because a commercial comes on and they’ve never seen one. Now extrapolate that out to the confusion when you try to convince him his show “doesn’t come on until 2pm”. In the world of always on streaming media, there is no concept of “not on right now”.
Grandpa still watches TV shows and commercials on their schedule.
The broadcast model is dead, they just don’t know it yet. They’re one generation away from people who won’t put up with $200 per. month cable packages, 800 channels of nothing to watch, and series that are released weekly and take the summer off to play re-runs. So if this is your model, you’ve got about ten to fifteen years to update it.
The next major change I see devices — digital natives are growing up with them. Just the other day my son touched the screen of my MacBook Pro with a zoom gesture as if it were a tablet. Think about that. One of the most expensive and current laptops on the market and to a young child it’s already antiquated. We find cameras intrusive and voice commands difficult, but it’s because we’ve still got our training wheels on while they simply think that way. Apple has Siri, Google has Google voice, Microsoft has Cortana — even touch screens are becoming antiquated. If this is your hardware, you’ve got about ten to fifteen years to update it.
Grandpa still uses a keyboard and mouse.
Then there’s the music industry. Per MediaResearch.com, although streaming subscriptions are slated to grow by 238% 2013-2019, downloads are declining by 39% and CDs are falling even faster at 44%, leaving streaming to make up 70% of all digital revenue in the music industry. I’m sure Taylor Swift considered this when she pulled her album from Spotify. In my house we almost exclusively use Pandora, Amazon Prime, and Spotify on our devices to stream in our house and in our cars, which means my kids are growing up without the concept of album sales, radio static, or top 40. If this is your model, you’ve probably got a lot less than ten to fifteen years to update it.
Grandpa still listens to the radio — it’s so staticy and they play what they want you to hear.
Amazon revolutionized (and revitalized) the book industry and promptly destroyed it again with Kindle. Netflix did the same thing with videos, subsequently destroying it with streaming. The lists and examples go on and touch nearly every industry. Even those things we view as current, like smartphones, are becoming antiquated by wearables because you still have to take it out of your pocket. Imagine instead a device with no screen that relies on your watch, your glasses, your earpiece, your car, or your home to communicate.
I find it interesting when people tell me things like they, “just have to disconnect,” or like to, “keep work and personal separate.” The next generation never disconnects. In fact, their connections are getting faster and easier and they’re getting better at them. They’re more digital than digital natives — they’re born digital, and they’re always connected — and they have a perspective we need to learn if our brands are to survive.
This brings me back to the start of this post: Google Glass and the start of my exploration of it. I remember it clearly. I was sitting at a table discussing the Olympics and someone asked how the US was doing. “Okay glass,” I said, “Google how many gold medals does the US have in the Olympics?” And before anyone could lug one of those heavy “smartphone” devices out from deep within their pocket or purse I already had the answer.
There are those who hate it, and to each his/her own, you can do that. But what you can’t do is deny it. Because today we are on beta version 1 of the device. It’s “bulky” and obvious when I wear it when I walk into a room. But it won’t always be. 15 years from now we will be on version 17. There will be competition from Microsoft, Facebook, Samsung, Google, and Apple in the marketplace. It will be better, faster, and “less creepy.”
But that won’t matter. Because the next generation will have grown up with it. They understand the value of it. They rely on the utility of it. When they go do a doctor they won’t be concerned about privacy if the Doctor is wearing it, they’ll be more concerned about the quality of care they are getting if the Doctor is not. Unless you’re doctor House, not being connected is an antiquated model. Not just for what we currently think of “going to the doctor”, but for the future of mHealth as well.
Which brings us to today, where headlines that read “Google Glass is Dead” could not be further from the truth or the reality. The reality is Google is graduating Glass from Google[x] to Google proper where it can be mainstreamed out of beta. Just days later Microsoft released HoloLens — a virtual reality headset that takes glass to the next level, further ushering in the era of holographic computing. Samsung has Gear VR, and Facebook owns Oculus with Zuckerberg noting it as the future of social.
These are the new models. So next year, when it’s time to check the Olympic medal standings, you’ll know that only grandpa still has to actually take his phone out of his pocket. If this isn’t your model, you need to update it.