Big plans and big dreams didn’t quite pan out for this iteration of Google Glass, but I wouldn’t count Google out just yet. Early this week the company announced that they would stop shipping the Google Glass units and shut down the Explorer Program. This has left some consumers who paid $1500 for one of the innovative, head-mounted computers more than a bit annoyed. And, of course, those who mocked and hated the devices are feeling smug about their predictions.
I’d hold off on passing final judgment, if I were you. Not everyone is viewing this as a failure. In fact, some, like Eric Sherman, maintain that the Explorer Program was a valid success.
I liked what Eric had to say on the matter, and especially loved the five points he raised (which you can read here) as to why it’s a success, particularly his point about Innovation requiring failure. However . . . I think even framing this as a failure would be hasty.
So to all of those looking for doom and gloom from this announcement, knock it off. There’s still a lot of ground to cover before you can say Google Glass is dead and buried. Why do I say this? Google spun Glass off into its own division and gave control of it to one of the savviest new innovators around: Tony Fadell, the guy who brought us Nest and its related devices.
The Explorer Program fulfilled the promise of its name—it explored the possibilities. It was real-world beta testing. Those who took part in the program pioneered how that tech would function, what changes would be made and ultimately they’ll have played a part in evolving Glass to its next (undoubtedly better) iteration.
If Google Glass was such a bad idea, why are so many other companies trying to come up with their own versions? Microsoft announced today their new HoloLens System. The possibilities inherent in holo-displays like this are almost limitless. Click on the link and check it out (be sure to watch the video—it’s AMAZING). AND, they’ve learned from Glass that these devices are not intended to live forever on your face (farewell, Glassholes!)
And Epson is on board with their second iteration of Moverio, head-mounted wearable tech that could mean some pretty cool advances for things like virtual training, watching movies or playing games.
So Why Didn’t Google Glass Work Out With Mass Audiences?
- Price Point: for all of the hype regarding the launch of Google Glass, there was one glaring issue staring consumers right in the face…that huge price tag. Only the hardcore early adopters were willing to shell out that kind of cash for a largely untested piece of tech.
- Not enough developer love: it was tough to design apps for Glass and the ones that it already had were glitchy. Much like the market made the call in the class VHS vs Betamax match up, if app developers love your product your chances of success go up significantly.
- Design issues: having to look up to see the screen was difficult most times and painful at others. The screens need to be more easily accessible (possibly in the peripheral vision?).
- Lacking in iOS: if you’re an Android person, Glass was (understandably) up your alley, but those on the Apple side of the street felt a little shut out.
Looking into my crystal ball, I see the future isn’t set yet for Google Glass, but I have a few predictions that I’ll toss your way.
I think Glass will make a comeback, in a more consumer-friendly version. A better screen presentation and top-notch virtual reality. It will be more affordable, and much more stylish. Eventually, how you wear your Glass and accessorize it will be as much a fashion statement as what clothes you wear.
Google Glass will come out with different varieties for different professional needs. VR Glass for training and simulations, Data-Glass for Law Enforcement, the medical profession or education. Gaming Glass, which should be self-explanatory. And even Adventure-Glass. If they can create a version that is tough enough to survive the outdoors, having Google Glass could give the Go-Pro market a run for their money (and with any luck get rid of the horror of the Selfie Stick).
So, as I said, while Google Glass is going away for a bit, don’t think of it as product failure. Look at it as Google learning from its users, heading back for retooling and likely ready to roar back in a few years, better and stronger than ever. And for all of those out there trash talking around the perceived failure, be prepared to eat those words.
What do you think? Google Glass, down for the count or gearing up for the 2nd round? Would love to hear more in the comments or tweet me.