What Investors Should Take Away From Google Glass

Apr. 5.12 | About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

Reviews of Google's (GOOG) "Project Glass" were so negative you would think they were being shown by Dr. Bunson Honeydew and Beaker (right, from Wikipedia).

Rather than focus on what the Google Glasses are or are not, investors should be asking deeper questions:

  • How far is this idea from the market?

  • How deep is the project pipeline?

Assuming Google can get these things made (and I suspect Motorola Mobility can make them) you come down to questions of price and application. Having literally dozens of neighbors who walk around with Bluetooth headsets on their ears, I suspect this won't be a tough sale, as hardware.

But I also suspect analysts who call this an "interface with reality" have it wrong, too. This should be seen, first and foremost, as a communications interface. The view at the top of your glasses becomes a screen, and your voice becomes the stylus or keyboard. Software will be key to its success.

On the bearish side, let's admit that there's a huge safety issue. Distracted driving doesn't come just from pressing buttons on a keyboard. You are equally distracted while interacting in hands-free mode, just as you can get distracted by the coffee or food in your hand and the whiny baby behind you. How do you make sure this is only being used by passengers, not drivers?

Beyond the device itself, however, here are my questions about the corporate change process being embarked upon here:

  • How do you keep this from being like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Research or (worse) Xerox (NYSE:XRX) PARC, which created innovation the parent company could not capitalize upon?

  • How do you empower people throughout the company if you're putting so many eggs in one San Francisco basket?

  • Is this going to be a product center, a services center, or a mere patent center?

In short, I want to know a lot more about the management of this center, its place within the corporate culture, and Google's go-to-market plans on its innovations before I give this a thumbs-up.

Meanwhile, it's good PR. Everybody loves Beaker. (I don't trust Honeydew, however.)

Disclosure: I am long GOOG.