How Tumblr for Google Glass Could Aid Yahoo's Future
The microblogging service Tumblr, which was newly acquired by Yahoo this week, could be an unusually good fit for Google Glass.
The usage stats for Tumblr make it clear why Yahoo was interested enough in buying the company for $1.1 billion in cash. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer noted that Tumblr counts more than 300 million monthly users, 108 million blogs and 50 billion posts, which adds up to users spending some 24 billion minutes per month on Tumblr.
Tumblr's popularity with a younger demographic was a clear attraction for Yahoo. Tumblr also gives Yahoo instant street cred in the world of social media, an arena where the company has long lacked a competitive presence.
However, if Yahoo's acquisition is reconsidered in light of Tumblr's relatively quiet launch of its Google Glass service last week at the Google I/O developer's conference, the purchase of the microblogging service looks even more prescient than those mere usage stats belie. [Read also: "5 Unsettling Uses of Google Glasses Camera."]
Google Glass may be more curiosity than everyday reality, but that's just for now. The wearable computing revolution is here, and Glass — or some second-generation variant — is here to stay. Glass is sure to change how individuals interact with their environment and technology. And nowhere was that more obvious last week than with a Glass service like the one from Tumblr.
The Tumblr Glass service was one of three new services introduced last week (Twitter and Facebook also introduced new services). The service keeps things simple: As showcased via a screencast (Google I/O attendees couldn't try the Glass on for themselves), attendees saw how Tumblr would behave via a screencasting demo shown on a tablet.
On Google Glass, there's no sense of an app. You don't launch the app separately, as on Android or iOS devices. Instead, Tumblr acts as a service that you install to Google Glass via the Web, and then Tumblr talks to Google's servers, and Google syncs it up with Glass.
The experience of Tumblr on Google Glass replicates the Tumblr dashboard, with options to post a photo, reblog a post, or like a post. When in the app, you have three options for uploading a picture: Say “OK Glass,” tap the picture button on top for quick access, or tap the frame to access the menu display on-screen.
To configure Tumblr for Google Glass, you'll use Google Glass' Web interface to connect to Tumblr, and add a contact for the blog to which you want to post images. Then, you simply share any image you capture with your own blog. Right now, you can't view your blog, just your dashboard, which typically includes your blog posts, too. Once you find the photo you want to share, tap the image, then pick the contact with whom you want to share and then tap again to select and upload the image.
Currently, all you can post are photos, but Tumblr product manager Chris Johnson said the company is looking at letting users post text, too. The service doesn't pick up information like geolocation, either, but that could come with time; Johnson said the company is considering that as well.
There's no reason to think any of that might change with the Yahoo acquisition. From Mayer's comments at a New York media event for Tumblr and Flickr, Tumblr sounds as if it will largely be left on its own (at least, for now).
But it's more enticing to think about how a service like Tumblr can transform how users capture and share the world. Other services built around capturing and sharing an image with the world via a wearable computer are sure to spring up. But before acquiring Tumblr, Yahoo was nowhere near that conversation.
Now, Yahoo is in the thick of the next social revolution. Hold on tight.