Where Business Meets the Blogroll


Will Google Glass be successful? Lessons from Segway and iPhone

Google Glass (from Wikipedia)

A story aired on NPR this morning about the backlash Google Glass is already facing, even before it is generally available:

Right now, Google Glass might be the world’s worst spy camera; if you go out in public with a pair on, you are guaranteed to attract attention. Still, the idea of techies mounting a tiny screen and a little camera to their faces makes millions of people uncomfortable.

According to Sarah Rotman Epps, a tech analyst at Forrester Research, that is why Google is rolling out Glass to the world slowly in stages.

“Google has been incredibly transparent … with their Glass rollout,” Epps says. “They realize that Google Glass will require shifting social norms to be accepted.”

The excitement about Google Glass reminds me of the buzz back in Fall, 2001 about Segway:

[Inventor Kamen] believes the Segway “will be to the car what the car was to the horse and buggy.” He imagines them everywhere: in parks and at Disneyland, on battlefields and factory floors, but especially on downtown sidewalks from Seattle to Shanghai. “Cars are great for going long distances,” Kamen says, “but it makes no sense at all for people in cities to use a 4,000-lb. piece of metal to haul their 150-lb. asses around town.” In the future he envisions, cars will be banished from urban centers to make room for millions of “empowered pedestrians”–empowered, naturally, by Kamen’s brainchild.

Segway does not release sales figures, but best estimates are that no more than 100,000 units have shipped in a decade of sales.

Six years after the release of the Segway, another eagerly anticipated product hit the marketplace (from Jan., 2007):

After more than two years in the making, Apple CEO Steve Jobs Tuesday announced the company’s intention to enter the mobile handset market, unveiling the new Apple iPhone. The iPhone brings together several features of the iPod, digital camera, smart phones and even portable computing to one device, with a widescreen display and an innovative input method.

“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything,” Jobs said.

Through six generations of releases Apple has now sold 300-350 million iPhones.

Image credit: Dylan Love in Business Insider

Google Glass: Segway or iPhone?

What is a better model for predicting the trajectory of Google Glass?

Will Google Glass suffer the same disappointing fate as Segway? Will it wilt under the weight of high expectations and resistance to change? Or, is it a revolutionary product that defines a new mode of communication and computing?

In its favor, Google Glass is less expensive, is a natural evolution of existing products and has a supportive ecosystem of developers. Yet, as Ms. Epps said, “Google Glass will require shifting social norms to be accepted.” Demonstrating the risks, cafes, casinos, and other locations with privacy concerns have already moved to ban the use of Google Glass.

Google is pioneering an entirely new model of computing usage. Early users reviews are positive, but without a consumer price tag it is difficult to predict consumer viability. There’s a big difference in the level of consumer demand for a $200 product than a $500 one. Also, Google still has time to address privacy concerns. (For example, it could add a visible indicator showing when a device is recording.)

Also, if the long rumored segment of smart-watches emerges, Google Glass will face competition. There is no doubt a huge market for even more portable Internet-enabled smart devices, but it is too early to tell what form factor will gain social acceptance.

What do you think? Will Google Glass be the next iPhone or the next Segway?


In-Class Activity to Teach Key Concepts of SEO and Pagerank

This week in my social media innovation class we covered pagerank as the foundation for search engine optimization. In preparing for class, I couldn’t locate any activities that illustrate the key concepts of page rank… so I created one myself!

Collaborative Filtering Voting Activity (a la pagerank)

The process is a little bit complicated, but it worked out well. I used Lego-like blocks as a tangible symbol of “voting,” akin to the votes a website receives through in-bound links.

Student returning blocks (credit: Steven L. Johnson)

The high-level process went like this:

  • I quickly organized students the 55-60 students into 16 (3-4 person) teams, assigning each team a number.
  • The students selected a team Reader, Recorder and Voter(s). I gave the Voters 10 blocks per team.
  • The students completed short simple task with an outcome that could be readily assessed by other teams (in this case, asking students to develop a 5-7 word tagline for our class).
  • They then went through two rounds of voting for the best tagline. The Voters roamed the room talking with Readers. Voters handed out 1 or more blocks to the team of their choice. The Recorder noted the team number the blocks were received from.
  • Round 1
    • In the first round every block counted equally: as one vote.
    • At the end of the round each Recorder announced their vote total. I entered these into a spreadsheet that the class could see. I rank ordered the teams by total votes and then assigned each team a weight of 1 to 5 based on that rank (with a 5 point weighting for the most popular and 1 point for the least).
    • The Recorders then turned over their team’s blocks to the Voter for Round 2. (One team received zero votes in Round 1: I gave them a block to use for Round 2.)
  • Round 2
    • In the second round the value of a block varied depending on the weight for the team that gave it.
    • Voters, Readers, and Recorders repeated the voting process.
    • At the end of the round, Recorders calculated the weighted total for their teams votes.
    • We did another roll call, identified the winning team and did a debrief.

The entire activity took about 40 minutes. The winner of Round 1 dropped near the bottom in Round 2. The winner from Round 2 was a team that finished in the middle after Round 1.

Learning Outcomes

This exercise is not intended to teach students the Pagerank algorithm! Instead, it helps students understand the managerial implications of the algorithm for marketing a website.

  • Students learn that in-bound links, not out-bound ones, determine pagerank.
  • Students learn that not all in-bound links are the same–some count more than others.
  • Students observed there is more to a high rank than good content (in this case, a course tagline). Additional factors play into relatively popularity. Most noticeably in this case, the group physically situated in the middle of the back of the room was hard to get to and, unsurprisingly, finished with the lowest vote totals.

Potential Variations

  • For a smaller class, I might try a third round of voting or repeat the exercise with a small variation (either a new task or some voting limitations).
  • If I had fewer teams I would also provide fewer blocks to vote with.
  • Instead of re-using the blocks from Round 1 as the number of Round 2 votes, a more realistic scenario is to hand out a second set of blocks so everyone has equal votes.
  • Also, rather than determining the winner solely based on the Round 2 totals, I would probably add together scores from Round 1 and Round 2.


I am a big believer in the use of in-class activities to promote learning. Activating multiple pathways–both physical and intellectual–reinforces both learning and recall of key concepts.

Do you have any favorite in-class exercises for under-graduate or master’s students?

Feel free to adapt my handout for this exercise (Prof Johnson Pagerank Activity).  If you do, please let me know how it goes for you!

All about Google Analytics from Annie Cushing of SEER Interactive

Annie Cushing, a Senior SEO for SEER Interactive, visited Temple U. Fox School of Business Social Media Innovation Course on Wednesday, Sept. 26 to share her insights about Google Analytics.

You can experience her talk second-hand through the live tweets.

Google Vs Bing (#INFOGRAPHIC)

Google Vs Bing

After researching the two search engines, Google is the clear industry leader in the market. Our infographic helps explain why Google’s market share is almost five times the size of Bing’s.

Google Vs Bing

Available for redistribution: via Flickr, via visual.ly.

Google+ v. Facebook: Tale of the Tape (#INFOGRAPHIC)

This week I’ll be posted the infographics created by the students in my MIS3538: Social Media Innovation course this semester. Here’s the first one on Google+ v. Facebook: Tale of the Tape.

Research indicates that marketers plan to increase social media spending by 46% in 2012. This infographic helps marketing professionals decide how and when to use two popular social media platforms for their businesses.

Google+ v. Facebook: Tale of the Tape