- Google Glass is a brand of smart glasses with an optical, head-mounted display. Just two years after they were launched, Google announced they would no longer be producing a consumer version of the glasses.
- Google Glass failed primarily because of a poor product-market fit. The developers believed the glasses would sell on hype and not on how they would solve user problems.
- Google Glass competed against more successful smart devices such as watches, speakers, and televisions. They also attracted criticism for their ability to film others covertly and didn’t perform any function especially well.
Google Glass is a brand of smart glasses with an optical, head-mounted display.
Google developed the glasses with the intent to produce a ubiquitous computer allowing the wearer to communicate with the internet via voice commands.
Prototype Google Glass smart glasses were launched in April 2013 for the princely sum of $1,500. Almost immediately, they attracted criticism from consumers concerned about their privacy, safety, and cost.
Just two years later, Google announced it would be ceasing production of the consumer version of the glasses.
The company then pivoted to the business sector and launched Glass Enterprise Edition for certain workplaces such as factories and surgeries.
Why did the consumer version fail so spectacularly? Read on to find out.
Google Glass failed as a product because its inventors did not conduct proper research on its potential users and the market.
Instead of developing a product that would solve user problems, they believed the glasses would sell on hype and revolutionary technology alone.
The early adopters were exposed to poor product development and could not identify any meaningful benefits to wearing the glasses.
Moreover, the glasses were not technologically advanced enough to warrant regular use, and Google had not determined whether they were comfortable to wear for long periods.
Google had lofty ambitions to augment reality with a touchpad, camera, and LCD or LED display.
In truth, however, all the company did was supplement reality.
Ultimately, the sunglasses had a limited battery life of between three to five hours.
They were also competing with smart televisions, watches, and speakers with faster processors, larger capacities, and better cameras.
Stigma and negative publicity
Google Glass attracted significant criticism after discovering wearers could film others covertly.
Some bars and restaurants banned wearers from entry, with the term “Glasshole” coined around the same time.
Google then released a statement instructing users to respect the privacy of others and not be creepy or rude, but the damage had been done.
The timing of the negative publicity was also unfortunate since there was also rising distrust around the power of big tech companies at the time.
Even the prototype version of the glasses retailed for $1,500 – equivalent to the price of a well-equipped desktop computer.
The high cost of the glasses was exacerbated by the fact that they didn’t perform any function, especially well.
As a result, those who could afford them were content purchasing a more affordable smartphone without the associated stigma of owning it.
While as a company, you can innovate and create new markets.
Often, technologies proceed with the development of complementary innovations.
AR might have been too early to be accepted at the time, given the strong transition from desktop to mobile.
In that phase, though, mobile won.
Setting the stage for the AR revolution
Augmented reality and virtual reality are taking center stage in what has been defined as the “Metaverse.”
Today these technologies and products might become the next frontier. As companies like Apple dominated the mobile industry.
Who’ll be able to tame the next wave will also ride a very large market.
Related to Google
Main Free Guides: