It’s no secret that Google likes to keep a bunch of balls in the air all at the same time. While some of their projects like Android and Chrome OS get a lot of attention and resources, there are the things like the left for dead Nexus Q or the rumored physical Google Wallet card that never see their full potential realized.
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Google Glass, one of the more ambitious ideas to come from the search giant in recent years, seems to have the full backing of everyone at Google HQ though, and judging from the predictions of many analysts outside the company Google should have a big winner on their hands.
It seems like every tech company worth their salt these days has some kind of wearable computing device either already on the shelves for sale or in various forms of testing. Some products like the Jawbone Up, Nike Fuel Band, and the Pebble smartwatch have had success but they have so far been very limited in their current forms. While these devices have either a specific app designed for them as is the case with the Up and the Fuel Band, it’s the smartwatches like the pebble and other forms of wearables that actually run apps which have the potential to be the real moneymakers.
How much money can these things make you may ask? According to IMS Research out of Wellington in the United Kingdom, the wearable computing market should become a $6 billion industry by 2016. Another firm, Juniper research, also sees this huge growth in the market and is predicting that sales of such devices to climb from 15 million this year all the way to 70 million by 2017.
Of course much of the success of any device that runs apps is a direct result of the number and quality of apps that are actually designed to run on the platform, and developers are certainly intrigued by the new frontier. Evernote for example has roughly two dozen engineers working with wireless watches, heart-rate monitors and Google’s Glasses in an attempt to make their note taking application compatible. For their part Google has recently partnered with venture-capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in an attempt to encourage developers to write applications for their marquis project.
Even with apps like Evernote or a Facebook or Twitter on board, some people see the application development for these technologies starting out in a different direction. Roger Entner who is an analyst at Recon Analytics LLC says “I am not sure commercial developers are right now lining up for small-run niche devices. The first batch will come from hobbyists that do it as a labor of love. Only then will we see the commercial app developers jump on the bandwagon.”
It remains to be seen if the wearable technology will take off as much as smartphones and tablets have or if it will remain stagnant like connected televisions, but the one thing you can say in favor of the former is that the app developers seem to be ready to sign on. With a bunch of new smartwatches as well as Google Glass about to be made available it’s a sure bet that we will all know the answer soon enough.