Watch out, Google. Even with a headstart in developing wearable computing devices through Glass, there are two major competitors possibly on the horizon, waiting for the right opportunity to pounce.
Reports indicate that Microsoft and Samsung are both keenly interested in competing against Google in its Glass efforts. Even as Google is already testing the waters with its initial batch of beta Glass units seeded out to 800 users, sources close to Samsung and Microsoft say that the two companies see wearable tech as the future of computing. The two are expected to come up with their own glasses-like product in six months’ time. According to another source, Microsoft actually has had dealings with Vuzix, which we earlier cited to have a Glass-like device underway.
A platform for wearable tech
Let’s take things into perspective, particularly with how each company attacks the market. Samsung is today’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, thanks to its use of Google’s own mobile platform, Android. If Google were to go with the same model with Glass being its reference device for an open wearable tech platform, then Samsung might have the chance of likewise dominating the space for glasses-mounted wearable tech.
Consider that Samsung will supply components for Glass. It should not be difficult for the Korean conglomerate to build web-enabled glasses themselves. Sources report that Samsung has actually ordered lenses from Israel-based Lumus.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is not exactly a leader in smartphones and tablets today, but it does have partnerships with hardware manufacturers, OEMs and big brands. Microsoft is reportedly interested in not only producing web-enabled glasses, but also in creating the platform for wearable tech itself. Microsoft is keen on both developing glasses for its Xbox gaming platform, plus making software to run other manufacturers’ hardware, much like how Windows and Windows Phone runs on a variety of brands.
Niche product today, selling like hotcakes tomorrow?
Wearable computing in the form of glasses might seem like a niche product at this time — something that’s more identifiable with the sci-fi community rather than mainstream. However, the same can be said with many of the devices and technologies we are enjoying today, including our smartphones, tablet computers and even speech recognition.
Google may be receiving the most buzz with Glass today, but it certainly cannot rest on its laurels. If augmented reality glasses and other wearable tech will take center stage in the future like how smartphones and tablets are dominating today, then Google will have to get the execution right and keep the momentum going. They wouldn’t want to be overtaken unsuspectingly, like Nokia, BlackBerry and even Apple in the recent years.
And the winner is …
Even with Samsung possibly taking the lead in web-enabled glasses, it shouldn’t be a bad thing for Google if it were to own the platform like Android. If Samsung could distribute tens of millions of glasses, then Google and the Android ecosystem would benefit in the end.
What’s better news for consumers is that we can expect AR glasses to be much cheaper than the $1,500 price tag for Google Glass today. Lumus director of business development Ari Grobman says glasses could retail from $200 to $500 once they gain mass market appeal, which sets it similar to the price range of midrange smartphones and tablets today. Good enough news for those planning to nerd up with AR glasses?