This is just a rumor right now, and might not pan out, but if true this is a great example of how difficult it is to get out of the linear thinking trap. The smartphone has existed in some form since 2001 and didn’t get to the price and quality where it represented a worldwide market until 2007.
On this site we’ve spent a lot of time reading and projecting technology trends. We try to avoid tossing out ideas just because they seem radical. But I’m finding it hard to accept that the smartphone, which barely existed ten years ago and has driven growth in world computing for only 5 years, is about to be obsolete.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Google really introduces useful Android-powered smartglasses this year, and they really cost $250-600. Chances are these represent the 2001 Palm OS version of what augmented reality glasses will really be capable of. But can we expect it to take even the 6 years it took smartphones for them to catch up? First, since this is running Android, it’s not a new software stack, but instead a smaller hardware packaging. This makes it more like the shift from desktop to laptop computers; for the most part, the software is already there. Second, these shifts are trending shorter over time. It took nearly 4 decades to shift from mainframes to PCs, more than 2 decades to shift to laptops, and the mobile shift took 6 years. Perhaps we’ll see mature augmented reality glasses 3 years after introduction.
As hard as it is, I think we need to expect more changes like this, and we need to expect them to come even more rapidly. An 11-year window (let alone a 30-plus-year one) in which a particular type of computing product is the most advanced available may be something we never see again.