Marketing tries to make us believe that some products appear out of thin air. Truth is, any product deployment that is successful requires experimentation. However, evolution can be difficult to achieve or is hidden behind closed doors. Google Glass is on of many examples how an ambitiuos product can fail on several levels.
Google Glass: Why and How did it fail?
Google was caught up in a storm of its own making, when it launched Glass. Instead of selling reality, the company wanted to capitalize upon the hype, hope and potential of Glass. Instead of marketing the product as a future-proofed prototype technology, the company used the hype-building marketing campaign to promote it. Glass’s high price gave it the appeal of a premium product.
The Key Takeaways
1. Google Glass, a wearable “smart glass” technology from Google, is a Google “moonshot”.
2. There was a lot of criticism about the product, including concerns over safety and privacy.
3. Google Glass seemed lacking the “cool” factor that is often associated with successful product launches.
Why and How Google Glass Failed
Google Glass was not intended to save the world. It was there to assist it. In reality, the main dispute among Google X members was over whether Glass should be used for fashion purposes or just for utilitarian functions.
Google’s development drew inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s belief that larger challenges inspire more passion, particularly in relation to the space race. Google co-founder Sergeybrin wanted Glass to be released to the public. He also wanted consumers to provide feedback, which Google X could use to improve the design.
As a result, the Glass prototype was made available early. This was in order to be more forward-looking than just being convenient. Although consumers desire wearable technology, the functionality must be palpatable. Glass is a fascinating idea. But this turned out not to be enough.
Glass was originally promoted by Google as experience augmentation. However, Glass did not augment reality. Glass’s three to five-hour battery life allowed users to view photos, check messages, and search the Internet. Glass competed with other devices that had better cameras, faster processors, and larger capacities.
Many questions were raised about Glass’s unclear value proposition. What would users feel like wearing a camera on their face every day? Some people were uncomfortable with being on the other side. Some bars and restaurants prohibited the wearer from entering; others simply ban the device entirely.
The device was also priced at $1,500, and it didn’t perform any particular action well. With the pricing strategy Google simply highlighted the divide between the haves versus the have-nots. The high price of Glass was restricting access to a small group of Glass Explorers.
While people spend huge sums of money on expensive items they still find value in their identity. Google Glass seems to be missing in this department. The device doesn’t look cool, but to look cool is crucially important for technology like this.
Google attempted to link the product with fashion designers by prominently featuring it in advertisements and Fashion Week. The company attempted to buy coolness. The coolness that comes with an invention implies the element of faith–the brand has to be trusted. Technology isn’t always the best way to create art.
Google Glass Now
Google currently uses Glass technology in manufacturing environments to make jobs safer. Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition is a set of devices that help manufacturers with their workflow.
Facebook and Ray Ban
Facebook has entered the facecomputer market Ray-Ban Stories. They are futuristic in that you can put them on and hear them chirp to life. They are basically connected sunglasses that allow you to transform normal glasses into tech-savvy ones. These are not AR glasses. This may be comforting or disappointing to you. Or both. Facebook’s real AR visions will take longer: Ray-Ban Stories are Ray-Bans in the first place. But in contrast to Google Glass, you can buy a glimpse of the future for a mere 299$. But will this be enough for a successful consumer product? This can be doubted, it appears that Facebook is testing the market and tries to learn from early adopters.
The interesting part is where Facebook will take its glasses business next. Facebook’s multiyear partnership with EssilorLuxottica, which began with the more basic glasses, clearly aims to produce more advanced products. Mixing virtual and real with embedded display, spatial audio. However, none is here (yet).
Apple’s smartglasses have been rumored for some time. If they are to believed, Apple will introduce smartglasses in 2023, two year after the release of smartglasses by Facebook. Apple’s smartglasses may offer full-color and three-dimensional display. They will offer full augmented realities and will also be voice activated and AI driven by a new version Siri, specifically designed for spatial computing.
While all of this is speculation and rumor, we know that the tech community is hard at work on smartglasses. They are the likely successor to smartphones as the most dominant computing platform. Amazon, Google, and Apple are all gaining steady streams of patents. Each of these patents has its core challenges. They must pack enough power and battery life into something that people want.