Google Glass a great example of why being first to develop is no advantage

There’s a fascinating article on Reuters on the state of Google Glass — in summary, that entrepreneurs, companies and investors are abandoning the platform because there is no market yet. I read it with mixed feelings.

In my entrepreneurship class at Stanford, my lecturer Andy Rachleff pointed out that being first to market is not a demonstrative advantage — rather, it’s first to product-market fit that’s critical. Google was not the first in search, but the first with the right search product. Once it built its lead, it was impossible for competitors to catch up.

So when Google opened up its Google Glass program, why did so many developers flock to it? I can’t recall a unicorn-level company ever winning because it was first to a technology platform. In mobile, Instagram and even Whatsapp had many predecessors. Uber was not invented at the start of mobile’s lifecycle; only later. I can’t think of a company that succeeded because it was simply there earlier than others.

Google_Glass_with_frame

Why rush? As long as Google Glass had a $1,500 price tag, it was obvious that it would not have any consumer penetration. Google Glass isn’t a finished product; Google hasn’t even launched the device to the general public yet.

Finding product-market fit is hard enough — much harder when the market isn’t even established yet. It’d be like trying to build a house on shifting sand. It’s possible but more difficult than it needs to be.

It’s important to be early, but I don’t think it’s an advantage to be first.

Google Glass has the potential to change the world, but the race to that goal hasn’t even started yet. Fellow developers, there’s no hurry. Better to wait until the gun goes off before you start running.

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