Jul 13, 2012

Urinals, Google Glasses and Trust

No, I am not given a challenge to use all these 4 words in a sentence. 

Reading all the articles around Google Glasses, it made me realize once again that in media (online and traditional), the name of our game is “Capture the eyes and ears”.

This epiphany occurred to me years ago when I first saw a screen bolted above a urinal at a busy international airport. I had to stand there and stare at the wall for 10-15 seconds while taking care of business. And somebody had thought of a way to monetize that. To me, that looked like pure genius.

Fast forward to today and every player is stepping up the game a notch. In our quarters, the game has evolved from TVs in our living rooms to desktop computers and to our laps with the laptops and more recently into our pockets and hands with smartphones and tablets.

And today, end users just need to open their eyes with Google Glasses. Bam, the game starts. The way the whole ecosystem is evolving, it looks like next step will be 15 seconds ad insertions in our dreams. Then we won’t even have to open our eyes.

All this sounds fun and exciting, however this whole land giveaway race will soon be coming to an end. Fred Wilson (@fredwilson) had recently written about growth in mobile and flatlining browser based big services*. 2 years from now, a similar article will be talking about declining mobile services growth.

All the developments in the last 40 years since the first TCP/IP paper that Vint Cerf authored, has blessed all of us with the variety of services at our fingertips and now at the blink of an eye.  But a big question still remains: 

With user experience reaching very well set equilibrium across services, channels and companies, users will be looking for other flavors on any application or platform. And when it comes to dictating terms, it wouldn’t matter how big a company is since the collective power of people with hardwired communication through social media is much more powerful than any behemoth out there in the market.

So, bad news for all companies out there.  No more bullying the user, no more irritating privacy breaches, no more hidden charges (in the form of user’s money and time)

Consumer economy is turning into consumer democracy. Therefore, from the single developer app company to behemoths like Google and Facebook, transparency and trust will have to be a core value proposition for all.

(*) Fred Wilson, Mobile is where the growth is, http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2012/07/mobile-is-where-the-growth-is.html


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