Yesterday, reports began to circulate saying Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) has "pushed back" its 2013 commercial release date for the company's widely anticipated Google Glass.
As I read several articles on the topic, however, I found myself furrowing my brow, as some industry watchers are now saying Google has disappointed eager techies by breaking its earlier promise to officially launch the device by the end of 2013 -- at least outside of a beta capacity, anyway. Only now, some say, is Google targeting a commercial release of sometime in 2014 for the wearable computing device.
Still, others are praising Google's discipline in taking some extra time to perfect Glass, noting the hype surrounding the groundbreaking product merits the added caution to be certain it can live up to consumers' increasingly lofty expectations.
Here's why that's off base
However, there's one big problem with this line of thinking: Google never officially made any such "promise" for a 2013 release.
To the contrary, many people simply got their hopes up after a Computerworld report in May vaguely cited "an internal source and another close to Google" for the claim, both of which apparently insisted at Google's I/O developer conference that Glass was on track to ship by the end of this year.
What's more, as the same report also plainly said at the time, those claims were admittedly in direct contradiction to comments made by Google's chairman Eric Schmidt only a month earlier, when he was quoted as saying, "It's fair to say [commercial release of Glass is] a year-ish away."
Naturally, everybody was hoping Schmidt was simply under-promising and over-delivering in an effort to make Google look good when Glass made its triumphant 2013 debut, but by no means should we be disappointed by Big G wavering from promise it never actually made in the first place.
To be sure, Google Glass is arguably so different from anything else the search giant has done before that it might just merit an entirely different set of release rules than the company's typically software-centric offerings, so you can't blame it for taking its sweet time to push the commercial version out to a skeptical public.
And besides, not unlike last month's surprise release of Google's amazingly popular Chromecast streaming media device, we need to remember nailing down exact release dates has never been Google's style, anyway.
In addition, it's also not as though Google absolutely needs Glass to launch quickly in order for the company to succeed. Remember, Google still dominates the web search market, and last quarter -- despite its already enormous size -- still managed to grow overall revenue 19% year-over-year, including a 20% increase in its core advertising revenue to $14.11 billion. Meanwhile, Google's quarterly net income grew nearly 16% to $3.23 billion.
But that doesn't mean Google Glass still couldn't be huge for the company. Sure, the product has already faced headwinds including significant privacy concerns, but Glass' more intimate integration as a wearable device undoubtedly gives it the potential to positively change the way we interact with he world around us -- something Google tends to strive toward with nearly everything it creates.
In the end, that propensity to change the way we do things for the better is exactly one of the key things I'm convinced investors should look for when trying to identify the best long-term stocks for their own portfolios -- a group in which Google certainly belongs.
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