Tony Fadell, the Nest CEO who was Senior VP of Apple’s division from 2006 to 2008, says that Apple built prototypes of a similar device to Google Glass but “didn’t have time” to turn them into actual products.
Interviewed as part of Fast Company‘s Oral History of Apple Design series, Fadell said:
At Apple, we were always asking, What else can we revolutionize? We looked at video cameras and remote controls. The craziest thing we talked about was something like Google Glass. We said, “What if we make visors, so it’s like you’re sitting in a theater?” I built a bunch of those prototypes. But we had such success with the things we were already doing that we didn’t have time …
From the description, the prototypes sound rather more like virtual reality headsets than Google Glass so there may be some exaggeration going on here. But it wouldn’t be a tremendous surprise to find that Apple has toyed with almost every tech idea under the sun: it has the resources needed to experiment at will.
The notion that Apple didn’t pursue the concept for lack of time seems rather more fanciful: it’s not like the company couldn’t have run out and hired a complete team for the project had it wished to do so.
Apple has always had a philosophy of doing a very small number of things extremely well. Back in 2011, iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing head Greg Joswiak described “saying no” as one of Apple’s four keys to success.
It means saying no, not saying yes. We do very few things at Apple. We are $100bn in revenue with very few products. There are only so many grade A players. If you spread yourself out over too many things, none of them will be great.
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