“Spaces” Don’t Exist

You can’t swing a dead cat at this year’s CES without knocking over a booth full of “wearable” technology. You’ve probably heard of Google Glass, but did you know you can also buy a drum machine t-shirt, solar-powered bikini and jeans with an embedded keyboard and mouse?

No doubt about it: wearables are one of the hottest “spaces” right now. I see only two problems:

  1. There is no such thing as a “space.”
  2. It doesn’t matter if the products are wearable.

Spaces Don’t Exist

The term “space” is a product of lazy, muddled thinking. I can’t say it better than Marc Andreessen:

There is such a thing as a market—that’s a group of people who will directly or indirectly pay money for something. There is such a thing as a product—that’s an offering of a new kind of good or service that is brought to a market. There is such a thing as a company—that’s an organized business entity that brings a product to a market. But there is no such thing as a “space”.

If someone tells you that “space” is hot, ask them who exactly will buy these products, and what hole it will fill in the buyer’s lives.

Categories Don’t Matter

Whether something like Google Glass is wearable may or may not be relevant to what it helps me do. Mat Honan spent the last year using Glass and identified some concrete usage for it. I’ll pick one example here and phrase it in terms of a job story (a term coined by Alan Klement):

When I’m with my child and (s)he does something cute, I want to take a photo quickly without retrieving a device so I can stay engaged while capturing the moment.

Couldn’t something like Dropcam with more advanced face detection perform this job? How about other products currently focused on security monitoring? It’s not important to me that the device doing the job be mounted to my head, as long as it gets done. In fact, I may prefer nothing on my face.

The interesting products from this year’s CES will address underserved jobs-to-be-done. They need not be attached to your body.