Nick Heer over at Pixel Envy made a similar observation to mine about Google’s penchant for treating concepts the same as products.
There’s a press-related angle to all of this, too, that I find particularly fascinating. Google’s PR strategy frequently seems to involve inviting journalists to preview their research experiments. But instead of framing them as pie-in-the-sky ideas, some journalists cover them like working, fully-functional products that you will soon be able to buy.
My theory is Google wants their concepts to be covered as real products, because there is really no downside for them if/when they fail to deliver, unlike most other established companies. Can you imagine how the press might react if Toyota, GM, or even Tesla gave a ship date for some new car, only to completely can it months later?
Google reasonably benefits from a history of whimsy, but at what point will the press stop treating their flights of fancy with the same gravitas as real products?