Google Hits ‘Glass’ Pedal as Apple Returns to Earth

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Carlo Allegri / REUTERS

Google co-founder Sergey Brin wears Google Glass before the Diane von Furstenberg spring/summer 2013 collection show during New York Fashion Week on Sept. 9, 2012

The U.S. technology industry is one of the most dynamic in the world, particularly with respect to mobile and Internet-based computing, two areas that are evolving at breakneck speed. Things can happen very quickly in the tech space: one day you’re up, the next day you’re down. Take Apple and Google, two tech titans currently battling for dominance in the mobile-Internet wars. Over the past several months, Google shares have increased by nearly 20% — last week topping $800 — while Apple shares have fallen by more than 30%.

Much of the movement happened in the past few months of 2012, as large investors, including hedge funds, pulled money out of Apple and, in some cases, poured it into Google, in order to maintain exposure to the large-capitalization technology sector, according to Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst and director of research at BGC Financial.

“As Apple started selling off, Google started taking off,” Gillis says in a phone interview. “If you’re an investor and you want exposure to large-cap tech stocks, there aren’t that many places you can go.”

The Apple sell-off is being driven in part by growing concerns about whether products like the iPhone and the iPad — devices that Apple is only incrementally improving — can continue to power revenue and profit growth, or whether Apple needs new, breakthrough products. After all, during his legendary career, Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs radically disrupted several markets with iconic products like the iPod and iTunes, and the iPhone and iPad, which set the standard for tech innovation. Current Apple CEO Tim Cook has yet to introduce a truly breakthrough new product of his own.

(MORE: Is Apple Losing Its Shine After Steve Jobs?)

“Tim Cook keeps alluding to the company’s great product pipeline, but there’s been an innovation vacuum for a couple of quarters,” says Gillis. “I’m not going to say the story is over — let’s give it one more year — but we’re certainly in a period of incrementalism with Apple.”

Scott Kessler, head of technology research at S&P Capital IQ, also raised the issue of incrementalism in Apple’s product cycle. “There are some well-founded concerns about the company’s ability to innovate, especially in light of Steve Jobs’ passing,” Kessler says in a phone interview. “It’s not just about the next big thing, but the next big category. People have been looking for new products and new categories for some time, but they haven’t seen them.”

It doesn’t help that Apple has experienced several quarters of slowing growth, which has further spooked investors. Last quarter, Apple generated profit of $13.1 billion, but that was flat compared with the year-ago period — the company’s lowest rate of profit growth in a decade. Google, by contrast, continues to report solid growth thanks to its dominant search engine and online advertising business. Last quarter, net income increased 13% on revenue of $14.42 billion, a 36% increase over one year ago. Google has now jumped ahead of Apple as the most widely held long technology hedge-fund position, according to Goldman Sachs’ new Hedge Fund Trend Monitor report, which analyzed 725 hedge funds with $1.3 trillion in gross assets.

(MORE: How Google’s Chief Innovator Sergey Brin Is Making Science Fiction Real)

In short, Apple expectations are returning to earth. “Apple has had a tremendous run from 2001 until the end of last year,” says Kessler. “People want the company to invent a new category. In the past, they’ve done that so frequently and successfully that when they don’t seem to do it as much or as profoundly, questions arise.”

Meanwhile, Google is hot. For example, Google’s new Chromebook Pixel laptop is garnering positive reviews. (“Thank you, Google. For obsoleting my MacBook,” as one CNET writer put it.) And the company’s Google Glass wearable computing project — high-tech Internet-connected specs — is generating the sort of buzz usually reserved for Apple products. The futuristic eyewear will be available to consumers by the end of 2013, just in time for the holiday shopping season, according to several reports. Here’s the latest official Google Glass video:

The Google buzz has been further amplified by chatter about the tech giant’s massive, 42-acre (17 hectare) expansion to its Googleplex headquarters at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. That’s a convenient location, because it’s right next door to NASA’s Moffett airfield, where Google executives keep no fewer than six private planes, including a 757, a 767 and several Gulfstream jets, according to a report last year from NBC Bay Area. (Cash-flush Apple also has an ambitious new headquarters due in 2016 under development.)

“Google is getting a lot of attention and a lot of kudos for taking risks and trying something new,” says Kessler. “While Apple is reducing screen size [see the iPad Mini], Google is introducing a whole new product with wearable technology, which reinforces the perception that it’s being innovative.”

(MORE: Why Is Apple CEO Tim Cook Sitting Next to Michelle Obama?)

As for Apple, it’s telling that Cook has been on something of a p.r. tour in recent months, appearing on the cover of Bloomberg BusinessWeek and showing up for a rare on-camera interview with Brian Williams of NBC News. In an apparent attempt to burnish the company’s image, Cook recently announced plans to spend at least $100 million to “do one of our existing Mac lines in the Unites States.” (To put that into perspective, Apple made over $50 billion in profit over the past 12 months.) And earlier this month, Cook sat with First Lady Michelle Obama during President Obama’s State of the Union address.

But Cook is going to need more than high-profile appearances if he wants to restore Apple’s mojo. Incremental updates to existing product lines are well and good, but investors — and consumers — are looking for the company to unveil truly disruptive new products, as it did with the iPod, iPhone and iPad. There has been chatter that Apple might introduce a new TV product, or perhaps a “smart watch,” but thus far those are merely rumors. It’s time for Apple’s next revolutionary product to become a reality.


This is kind of retarded. Apple's pace of innovation isn't that fast. The iPod came out in 2001. The iPhone came out in 2007. That was six years. The iPad came out in 2010, but while it was revolutionary, the technology used was fairly iterative. After you rout three markets so successfully, I'll allow them to rest on their laurels until late 2014. If they can't muster up something then, I'd say trouble.

And their profits are still ridiculously high. It's just "growth" that isn't there. It's hard to grow in markets that you already dominate.  Google Glass is what I see being the next potential game changer. But Google's obsession with prolonged betas coupled with their spotty track record on hardware makes me skeptical. The Chromebook Pixel is going to flop I'm sure. No one's going to pay $1300 for a glorified web browser. 

It'll be exciting regardless. Interesting to see how things will shake out. 


After reading through the comments below, I am appalled. You all must be incredibly loyal to Apple, or just naive in your reading of this article.

Apple is still a fabulous tech company, no denying that, but the author of this article is discussing Apples decline in value based on the numbers present. Apple has dropped from an all time high share price of $705.07 and a market cap of $656 billion, to its current price at $444.57 and a market cap of $417 billion. What does this mean? It means shareholders, ie you all (if I'm right in assuming you own shares in Apple) and investment firms are not investing your/their assets into Apple. On the other hand, in the same time frame Google has gone from a share price of roughly $600 a share and a market cap of $180 billion to its current share price of $800.05 and market cap of $264 billion.

The author discusses the lack of innovation on the part of Apple over the last few quarters and the incredible innovation on the part of Google. Weather or not you believe this is true personally is irrelevant because the majority of people, myself included, believe it's true. The numbers prove this, people as well as firms are pulling their money out of Apple and into Google, causing these changes in share prices and market cap.

If we are just looking at the products that these companies are releasing into the market, I suggest we all take a step back and see what is actually been happening. Steve Jobs was the best innovator of the last decade. Under him, Apple released revolutionary product after product, back to back. What has happened in the last year... from iPad 2 to iPad 3, iPhone 4s to iPhone 5, and an iPad mini. These may be nice products but they are not nearly as captivating as the introduction of the new, never before seen products that Apple is known for.

On the other hand Google's core business is in tact, but at the same time incredible innovations like the self-driving car and Google glass are rolling out of the Google X- labs. The chrome pixel is another example. Google is a web advertising company and search engine, the fact that they are releasing top of the line hardware as well as software is incredible! This is why Google is growing at a great rate and Apple is not!

You may like Apple's products more or you may like Google's, but the numbers don't lie.

*side note: In defense of Google, the products they are releasing are revolutionary. They may not sell as well as Apple products, but they are introducing new technologies that help the progression of the tech industry as a whole.


@maxaxelrod well said! People seem to forget here that not only is Google creating some awesome hardware, I would bet good money that 90%+ of Apple users have a Gmail account, or use Google 10+ times daily, or have looked up Google maps in the past week, or have a drive account. What Apple service have I 'needed' or even 'wanted' in the past, I don't know, 12 months? Right, none, because beyond iTunes (which I find increasingly useless/clunky/restrictive when compared to options like Spotify, Xbox Music, or any other cloud listening service) they have yet to produce a service people find useful if you are not already in the veil... Apple TV? the iCloud? When was the last time anyone saw something exciting happen to iOS in general?

Google continues to innovate and develop at a steady rate in a HUGE number of applications, sure Google Wave was a total flop, but they are still pushing boundaries and inspiring other developers. Apple continues to do what it has done for a decade now, refreshing product lines and giving people more of the same in new (albeit beautifully designed) packages. People will lose their allegiance once the credit card burn of that $500 phone wears off I imagine and they start to open their eyes to options beyond what they think is innovation.

mboosto 1 Like

I can't believe that Time pays this guy to do mediocre research and write a short sensationalized piece.

stefn 1 Like

"restore Apple's mojo" How about Google's mojo, which is bleeding out at a dangerous rate to Samsung? Samsung is milking Android for all it's worth. Can a Samsung OS and search be far behind? Google has a tiger by the tail. Five years from now, the mobile market will include Apple, Samsung, and Google, in that order.

Innovation without disruption is only novelty. Google's Pixel and Glass are silly party tricks. The prices say it all: Even Google doesn't believe in them as CE products. Pure puerile posturing.


Just to add a note: Google will be in third place, as noted, only if it develops hardware to compete with Samsung's. Real hardware, not pixie dust. Otherwise, it will be, like Twitter and Facebook, relegated to living mostly on platforms owned by others. Or worse, like Adobe, begging to be on platforms.


@stefn You have no idea what you're talking about. You seriously think a hardware company who owes a huge part of its success to Google is going to turn around and in 5 years try and beat the technology Google has been building for far longer? No. They aren't competitors in any sense of the word.

Anyone on the internet uses a Google service at least once a day, unless they are actively trying not to (and even then they probably don't realize just how deeply Google is intertwined with the internet).

Pixel and Glass may not succeed, but Google will continue to innovate and push the limits of technology with the HELP of Samsung and other manufacturers, while Apple will continue re-releasing the same products with an extra camera until they finally expire like they should have in the 90s.


@mistertoasty "owes a huge part of its success" Ha. Samsung is anything but sentimental. So forget the idea it feels it owes Google. "aren't competitors in any sense" From Larry's lips to God's ear. In fact, It's a highly unstable relationship between two companies that have proven duplicitous, at the drop of a hat. When Samsung deploys an Android fork ala Amazon or a new OS, Google will have no choice but to hope to get on it, ala iOS.


@mistertoasty Treachery? Take a look at Google and Samsung phone designs before and after the iPhone.

For the rest, I'm content to wait and see how this plays out. You see Samsung as a willing Google lackey. I see Samsung wants to be Apple. And Google's in its way.


@stefn @mistertoasty yeah and look how that turned out for Amazon. Clearly you don't understand the entire concept of android. Google WANTS people to create forks of android, it's the whole frickin' point, and it's the reason android has been so successful. 

And I'm not talking about sentiment, I'm talking about common sense. Samsung gets a FREE OS which has high market penetration and they have complete control over how much or little of those OS features end up in their phones. They slap a couple mods and themes over it and they're done. WHY would they pour millions of dollars in R&D into developing a new OS to try and penetrate an incredibly overcrowded market while at the same time losing application compatibility with android. Web OS and WP7/8 are reason enough to know that this doesn't work, and application compatibility is clearly important enough that RIM decided BB10 needed android application support.

 Also, I'm curious what "proof" you have that there is any treachery between these two companies. They have a similar relationship to Nvidia or AMD and their hardware manufacturers. Google's Nexus strategy is also a brilliant one: they strengthen ties with manufacturers and build a great brand at the same time.

And Google has spent billions of dollars on patents specifically to help defend partners like HTC and Samsung from Apple's money grubbing lawyers. They aren't "loyal" to Google sure, but Google has done with phones what Microsoft did with PC in the 90's. If you aren't Apple or RIM, trying to build a smartphone nowadays without Android is an exercise in futility.

meaningless 1 Like

You don't live in the real world, do you.  Your metrics are flawed at best, outright lies at worst.  Stick to something you know about.


Just out of curiosity, would you be so kind as to share your real world perspective? 

I'm always interested to hear how other commenters specifically rebut the mediocre TIME Magazine editorial staff (which isn't hard to do).

thesundaybest 4 Like

As far as I can tell, all tech blogs are just trolling us with "Apple is doomed" rhetoric. From the CNET review of the Chromebook Pixel:

"The bottom line: Despite impressive hardware specs and solid industrial design, the Chromebook Pixel’s high price and cloud OS limitations make it impossible to recommend for the vast majority of users."

But I guess the writer of this piece didn't bother to read the actual CNET review of the device.  

"Meanwhile, Google is hot." Because a writer in an opinion piece said he'd trade in his Macbook? Because of a yet-to-be-released concept project? Am I taking crazy pills?

How about this - wait until millions of people are wearing Google Glass and then write the above. Until then? Stop trolling us. And advertisers? When I see your products on terrible "journalism" like this, I am far less likely to consider them. 


I think the biggest problem with Apple is that while the iPad market share continues to be healthy (thanks to a mature ecosystem and offering two different sized models), Apple's biggest moneymaker, the iPhone, is now under major attack from Android-based cellphones that sport bigger screens and more features than the iPhone.

Why do you think there are rumors that Apple is working on THREE different models:

1. A new low-cost model based on the iPhone 4S but with a metal back, intended for the developing world market. There will be one version that includes TD-SCDMA digital cellular network support, designed specifically for China Mobile's cellphone network.

2. An improved version of the iPhone 5, now with the addition of an NFC radio/antenna system (very necessary for South Korea and Japan, where NFC mobile payment systems are very common; this may become the phone where the ISIS mobile payment system now starting to roll out in the USA will be most commonly used).

3. A new, 4.8 to 5.0 inch (diagonal) larger screen iPhone to better compete against the HTC One and the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S IV.


@SactoMan81 Has anyone done a reality check on the Samsung and Android sales numbers in the real world?  I was at Disney World this weekend in the parks and in a running event.  I was in contact with thousands of people from all walks of life.  I saw more iPhones than I could count and literally a couple dozen Samsung/Android phones.  I also saw a lot of iPads and 1 Android tablet.  I don't think Apple has anything to worry about.  They don't need to follow in Samsung's footsteps and try to match features.  The public knows what they want and they want Apple products.

mvneufeld 2 Like

Apple falls? read this:

Apple today announced financial results for the fourth calendar quarter of 2012 and first fiscal quarter of 2013. For the quarter, Apple posted revenue of $54.5 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.1 billion, or $13.81 per diluted share, compared to revenue of $46.33 billion and net quarterly profit of $13.06 billion, or $13.87 per diluted share in theyear-ago quarter. Apple's quarterly profit and revenue were both all-time company records, but Wall Street analysts had projected even slightly higher numbers


Google is in a big fall. The stuff they are talking about, if not impossible to peddle to super rich geeky kids, it has several legal issues embedded it it.

HUD Google Glasses are real and they are coming soon

Terminator glasses

We detailed the first information about the Google [x] Glasses project in December.

They are in late prototype stages of wearable glasses that look similar to thick-rimmed glasses that “normal people” wear.  However, these provide a display with a heads up computer interface.  There are a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken for normal glasses.  Additionally, we are not sure of the technology being employed here, but it is likely a transparent LCD or AMOLED display such as the one demonstrated below:

In addition, we have heard that this device is not an “Android peripheral” as the NYT stated.  According to our source, it communicates directly with the Cloud over IP. Although, the “Google Goggles”  could use a phone’s Internet connection, through Wi-Fi or a low power Bluetooth 4.0.

The use-case is augmented reality that would tie into Google’s location services.  A user can walk around with information popping up and into display -Terminator-style- based on preferences, location and Google’s information.

Therefore, these things likely connect to the Internet and have GPS.  They also likely run a version of Android.

Since then, we have learned much more regarding Google’s glasses…

Our tipster has now seen a prototype and said it looks something like Oakley Thumps (below). These glasses, we heard, have a front-facing camera used to gather information and could aid in augmented reality apps. It will also take pictures. The spied prototype has a flash —perhaps for help at night, or maybe it is just a way to take better photos. The camera is extremely small and likely only a few megapixels.


The heads up display (HUD) is only for one eye and on the side. It is not transparent nor does it have dual 3D configurations, as previously speculated.

One really cool bit: The navigation system currently used is a head tilting-to scroll and click. We are told it is very quick to learn and once the user is adept at navigation, it becomes second nature and almost indistinguishable to outside users.

(As an aside, I built a head mouse as a Masters Thesis project a few years back that used head tilts to navigate and control menus. I am ready to collect royalties!)

I/O on the glasses will also include voice input and output, and we are told the CPU/RAM/storage hardware is near the equivalent of a generation-old Android smartphone. As a guess, we would speculate something like 1GHz ARM A8, 256MB RAM and 8GB of storage?  In any case, it will also function as a smartphone.

Perhaps most interesting is that Google is currently deciding on how it wants to release these glasses, even though the product is still a very long way from being finished. It is currently a secret with only a few geeky types knowing about it, and Google is apparently unsure if it will have mass-market appeal. Therefore, the company is considering making this a pilot program, somewhat like the Cr-48 Chromebooks last year.

Source: 9 to 5 Google

If I am not mistaken, Apple and Samsung copyrights case hit the US courts and lawyers came out with big smiles.

...and I am Sid

mtngoatjoe 2 Like

I kinda take issue with the "lack of innovation" attack on Apple. I mean, the iPod came out in 2001 and then the iPhone came out in 2007. Then it was 2 years until the iPad came out. So, Apple basically averages one new product category every 3 years or so. That's not exactly a breathtaking pace.

What has Google done? They developed a really good search algorithm in 1998. They came out with Android phones, after Apple. They developed Android tablets, after Apple. They designed some pretty cool glasses that will sell in VERY low volume until the price comes way down. So, on average, Google develops one new product category every 7.5 years (if you give them the benefit of the doubt on the glasses thing). And, I think it's fair to point out that Google went 14 years before developing new product categories.

Now, we all know that past performance is not indicative of future success, but to say that Apple has lost its innovation edge and that Google is the new Apple is kinda absurd.


@mtngoatjoe in terms of hardware products, you would be correct. But what about google chrome, gmail and maps?  They were all massive game changers. Android is leaps and bounds ahead of iOS in terms of features right now, and apple unashamedly steals ideas from android in every release. People don't realize that 80% of the features Apple adds in to iOS is just them playing catch-up to android and pretending they invented it.



I don't think Chrome and Gmail qualify as game changers. Nifty products, yes, but not industry changing. You may have a point about Maps, but I'm not ready to concede that. Google Maps started off as a very modest product, and over time, it has developed into a great product. But at what point would you call it a game changer? Version 1? I wouldn't. It's evolved over many years. That's evolution, not revolution.


@mtngoatjoe I slightly misread your original post, you were referring to product categories. Also, Chrome's fast release schedule and clean interface was worlds away from IE and Firefox at the time. Many features and design choices Google made have since been incorporated into both, and it put a fire underneath the developers of other browsers to say the least. Gmail offered 2 gigs of storage when it was introduced, which trumped the 50 or so MB offered by Microsoft, Yahoo etc at the time. Not months later every big email service was pumping up their allowed storage.

And your point on evolution vs revolution is a good one but it does not in my opinion mean that Google lacks innovation. Google just last year opened Maps up for crowd-sourced map corrections. Not a big change, but nothing like anyone before them. My point is that they may not always be first to the game, but their entry is never just a blatant copy. It always adds something new and forces the original to keep improving or be quickly overtaken.


What you just described (Google following Apple's lead in multiple product categories) is called second-mover advantage in business.

Basically, second-movers (like Google) can 'wait and see' which innovations are highly popular, and then debut similar products to steal away market share.  As a consequence of that dynamic, first-movers (like Apple) must be on-guard against its primary and secondary industry/segment competitors. 

That is especially true in a mid- to fast-cycle market, where break-through innovations can occur one-on-top-of-the-other.  Such rapid progress can quickly erase a company's competitive advantage, and drastically lower the chances of consistent above-average returns. 

Quite frankly, Apple has been lucky to stay ahead of the pack for so long (since '01) with its disruptive products and services.  It will be interesting to see how the Google Glasses fare.

JohnReece 1 Like

The real story is Obama doesn't have a problem with billionaires offshoring jobs as long as they're fawning donors like Steve Jobs and Tim Cook instead of Republican election opponents.

Frankhy 3 Like

@JohnReece It's always funny seeing Obama being bashed as a "socialist" one day, and the next day people are upset with him allowing free market to exist instead of trying to pull a North Korea by raising skyhigh trade barriers to everywhere deemed "offshore". American manufacturers is being beaten by cheaper competition. Deal with it, or go Soviet and see how that works out for you.

nanco 3 Like

Try to imagine having a real conversation with someone wearing these...I would think it poor manners and rude to be looking at their minidisplay . ..IMO it would be far worse than having someone who can't give you the time to stop looking at their smartphone.. Also,  I would really hate to be the parent of a child that has them.

ukjaybrat 1 Like

Being rude is being rude... It doesn't matter if it's with a smartphone or a pair of glasses.
If you don't want your child having these... Don't buy it for them.

nanco 2 Like

I  am suggesting that  wearable glasses will make it that much easier to be rude . 

nanco 2 Like

Fact...people are more and more becoming less mindful of manners while using some of these recent technologies. Your superficial response doesn't refute my concern for the problem these glasses may cause. My parent - child statement was made for readers to consider that some parents will buy them for their kids, just like 10 year olds now with smartphones. In their hands, kids ignore their parents, walk into people in hallways, or bury their heads down into them during dinner. No, I won't buy one for my kids…. I'm worried that you and others will, which will leave the rest of our society having to deal with your spoiled and obnoxious kids.

nanco 1 Like

You and your kids may be okay, that is anecdotal, but again you fail to alleviate my general concern for society. Look around you at the behavior of many others. A day doesn't go by that you don't see someone using their phone while driving. Go to a restaurant and observe the number of people looking down into their smartphones, instead of conversing with the people at their table. I could go on and on with other examples. It is troubling that it is being suggested that everyone on the planet will ultimately wear these.... just like people kill & not guns, would you not  be concerned if everyone had an automatic assault weapon or that Al-Qaeda had several nukes?

ukjaybrat 1 Like

@nanco My children aren't rude. They were raised with manners. They leave their phone in their room during dinner and they pay attention when spoken to by elders. I don't have problems that you suggest because i am a good parent. If other parents are having problems with their kids not paying attention or being rude, it's not the smartphone's fault, they didn't raise their children not to be rude

Micarl 4 Like

Lesson for the era. If you need innovation and creativity, don't put it in the hands of the MBA Finance boys (Tim Cook). Leave it to the artists and engineers (Jobs and Wozniak, the Google boys....). Tim Cook is going to turn Apple into another Dell. Like any MBA Finance boy, he'll find artificial ways to pump up the stock price, make short term profits, and then leave an empty shell behind when they discover they have no great products in pipeline.


When it is so common it sells for 25 dollars  then it will be pratical  till then   its  a star wars day dream in the future  for the middle class user. just  like the original cd recorders for radio station use at one time cost 20 grand and a player 800 dollars when it becomes common place   it will drop too  after the fad stage has passed


@KentR so the iphone costs $25 ? it's pretty common.

no wait, it still costs $600 - $900 depending o nthe model

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@ukjaybrat actually no the phone was $0.  Got it through Fido in Canada.  Even with the monthly cost of the data plan (which isn't any different than if I bought a iPhone 5 or Blackberry or Android phone at full price)  They hope that you'll by the crazy large data/phone plans and such.  I use wifi more or less at my leisure at home and work.  You just have to look around for a good deal.  Not sure if that happens state side, but we've only got 3 major carriers here so they fight tooth and nail for you.  Takes 5 minutes to play the field and you get what you want...without paying an arm and a leg.  And I still get a decent phone out of it 


@patsplacepp @ukjaybrat @KentR your iphone wasn't free... you bought it with a contract to your provider, so you are paying them who in turn pays apple... you bought that iphone whether you admit to it or not


@ukjaybrat @KentR Actually my iPhone cost $0.  Works just fine and is pretty common indeed.  How much are those glasses again?