Since the beginning of the computing industry, it has been the case that hardware platforms produce software innovation. A single innovation in hardware can provide the base for a multitude of software applications. In the process, thousands of companies are created, millions of customers are acquired and billions of dollars in revenues are generated.
Hardware innovation in the 1970s and 1980s by IBM around the personal computer led to software innovation by now Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Oracle, Adobe, Symantec and SAP. In the mid 2000s, hardware innovation by Apple on the iPhone led to many of today’s rising stars: Twitter, Instagram, Flipboard and Waze are all built on mobile platforms.
It is still too early to tell whether Google Glass will be the next ubiquitously used hardware platform spurring software innovation. It looks like the product development teams have a ways to go to iron out some of the kinks and lower production costs to get the price down to what consumers would be willing to pay In fact, last week Forrester Report published survey results showing that only 12% or approximately 21.6 million U.S. online consumer would use Google Glass on an everyday basis.
Yet, if we looked back in time, I don’t think the early adoption numbers for the personal computer or iPhone would be all that different, especially pre-launch. Nonetheless here we are in 2013 and I can count on one hand how many people I know who don’t have a smartphone or a personal computer.
If Glass is able to capture broad consumer appeal, you can count on another big wave of software innovation. Already, Google has released parts of its developer API and the applications are limitless—everything from education to health to advertising. Smart entrepreneurs and VCs will already start thinking about software applications Glass could enable. It’s a great time for innovation.
Google has become more than just a search engine. Since its early years, Google has evolved into a platform that provides a wide array of tools and services to users. Through Google you can find everything from video sharing capabilities (YouTube) to social networking (Orkut/Google +) to metrics and analysis (Urchin). But it wasn’t until recently that I realized just how far reaching Google really is and how much data they have on users.
The dashboard feature on Google is very convenient and easy to use. It can almost be compared to a computer’s desktop or some other related organizing feature. Google’s dashboard can be personalized to the user depending on the applications they have added to the dashboard. For example my dashboard included:
And the best part of Google Dashboard is that it doesn’t require any maintenance from the user. Rather, it tracks one’s use of applications and organizes the applications on the dashboard for the user. Google Dashboard also provides short summaries on recent activity or usage of the Dashboard. For example, Google Docs informed me that I “owned” 51 documents, was “sharing” 216 documents and had “opened” 247 documents. It also provided me with the dates of my most recent activity. In general, I found this information to be useful and unobtrusive.
Google History on the other hand was much more surprising, to say the least. Essentially this feature tracks all of a users web searches in alarming detail. There were many interesting stories that could be told each day just by looking at my web searches. On any given day, Google History could provide insight on my work assignments, what music I was listening to and what mood I was in. Here were my top visits last month:
4. young changers
5. venture beat
These 5 sites did not surprise me, but Google’s ability to record my web usage did. Even more impressive was the way in which data on my usage was presented. Below is a graph of my hourly search activity over the last month.
The way the data is presented in this nice graph makes it possible for anyone to read an understand the trend in my use (which peaks at around 8pm).
Business with Google
One interesting aspect of Google’s services is that they serve as a pull factor into the “Google Universe.” When users spend more time using Google related services, Google is able to track more data on them. This data is then paired effectively with advertising to create a business model that is incredibly strong. As a result, Google has for years been placed on the internet pedestal.