The Drum: How Apple could succeed where Google stumbled with smart glasses

B Lisa Lacy, The Drum

While we’ve long heard about smart glasses -- including, but certainly not limited to, Google’s early but ill-fated foray -– it’s the reported smart glasses in development from Apple that have the potential to finally go mainstream. Indeed, Apple is allegedly looking to add a pair of digital glasses to its wearables portfolio in a project that, per Bloomberg, is “still in an exploration phase” and would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest.

Citing “people familiar with the matter,” Bloomberg said the device will connect wirelessly to iPhones and display images and “other information” in consumers’ field of vision.

Not surprisingly, it could also include augmented reality, making it Apple’s first hardware targeted directly at AR, Bloomberg said.

Per Bloomberg, Google Glass failed in part because the battery died quickly, but also because consumers didn’t like the design and had privacy concerns.

According to Chris Carter, CEO of big data firm Approyo, Apple now has the potential to rework what Google did using the data provided by its users.

“Apple feels that data helps them in the quest to take over where Google left off when they stepped away from Glass," he added.

And this careful maneuvering is really textbook Apple.

“Apple is rarely the first into a new market. It prefers to stand back, watch what others do and then [debut] a polished product that addresses the shortcomings of previous attempts,” said Sam Costello, business analyst of creative technology at marketing and technology agency Digitas. “While Apple’s AR glasses are just a rumor right now, it’s a safe bet that the company has paid close attention to the failure of Google Glass and what Snapchat is doing with Spectacles. If Apple delivers a product in this space, expect it to build on the best elements of those products and add Apple’s characteristically thoughtful user experience.”

Snapchat Spectacles are sunglasses with video cameras that record ten-second Snaps and wirelessly add those Snaps to Memories on Snapchat. The platform released Spectacles via pop-up vending machines called Snapbots in November. Locations to date reportedly include LA and Tulsa. What’s more, a map allegedly lets consumers know where they can find the pop-up vending machines next.

Per Jeff Malmad, managing director and head of mobile and life+ at media and marketing services company Mindshare North America, Snapchat has key advantages in the short term because its product has “fun mass appeal” and its glasses are more about casual enjoyment than Google’s glasses, which were positioned at a lofty vantage point as the wearable of the future.

“It’s affordable and fun, especially the marketing of Spectacles,” he said. “With Apple, one of the challenges in comparison is that the product will likely be more expensive and more complicated to bring to market.”

Read the full article on The Drum.