Google Glass : true game changer or care bear stuff ?

At their launch nearly everybody was talking about Google Glass, everybody wanted to try and the happy few who were offered to buy it were happy to spend $1500. Today many specialized sites say that the game is now over for Google Glass and even first addicted users are leaving their glass in the drawer.

What raises many questions. Are we so blind that we didn’t get the potential of the product ? Is it the evidence we got excited too fast about glasses and connected objects while it was only a fad ? Should we keep exploring this field or turn the page ?

There is no Google Glass problem. Only a need to buzz.

Maybe the first thing we should do is keeping a sense of proportion. The web and digital world has an annoying obsession : thinking that things are either black or white but never grey. Any novelty must irremediably mean the end of what existed before and if it does not work within the first two years we must conclude the death of the product. That’s a world that loves novelty : it gets passionate for a new product and forgets it 6 months later. The truth is we’re living in a grey world and the web world doesn’t like grey. It loves to buzz about black and white.

First advice  : don’t take things at face value. Maybe there’s not any problem, only an experimental product that needs time to find its place and improve, maybe a product launched too early with too much expectations, what does not question its potential.

The problem with Google Glass is Google.

Another explanation : the problem with the product is its inventor. As I said, we love to turn against former loves. We love to see leaders collapse and leave room for new players (as if the market was nor large enough). So we should find normal that what once happened to IBM, Microsoft and even Apple happens now to Google and Facebook. We love to hate Google because they’re not the cool startup of the 2000s anymore, because they scare people and because their “Don’t Be Evil” has become more laughable than inspiring.

If the Google Glass had been invented by a small startup I’m sure the buzz would be more positive today and that they would get more support. But it’s Google and no one should miss an opportunity to bash Google.

$1500 is too expensive for connected glasses

Then comes the price but I don’t buy this argument. Google Glass were not supposed to become a mass consumption product at this time and the happy few who bought it could afford it (can I remind you the prices of the last gen Smartphone ?). The argument would have been valid for a massive launch, not for a product sold sparingly to targeted customers, before a mass production that would have bring prices to a more acceptable level for anyone.

Google Glass are not socially acceptable.

That’s an argument I’m more likely to buy and the main concern I raised when Google Glass came to the market. From a social perspective, one can’t do anything, anywhere, anytime. There are places and moments where one should not make calls, where one is supposed to pay more attention to others than to his smartphone, where one should not take pictures. It’s a problem of how we should behave in front of others (talking to someone while doing something else) and a privacy issue : no one knows if you’re  taking photos, filming etc.

Call it old school if you want, say that when one is in a public place he’s in a public place….I think that’s wrong. Even in a public space there are photos one cant” take (and even more if the purpose is sharing), and it’s even worse in a private place (yes…a restaurant is a private place). Google Glass raise a problem of trust between the people sharing the same place, either when they know each other or even more when they don’t know each other.

Maybe it may become more socially acceptable over time. Maybe but  I don’t think so. Today everyone has a mobile phone, some barriers have collapsed but some still remain, for etiquette and social convention reasons.

Google Glass are not aesthetically acceptable.

Let’s admit it : spending the whole day wearing Google Glas… To be polite, it does not look very nice. Of course if there were millions of users it would become fashionable but due to the lack of a critical mass what could have been fashionable looks like a mad idea for eccentric people.

I don’t even mentions the behaviors related to the product. When even Eric Schmidt says talking to one’s glasses is weird you can imagine what normal people feel.

So we’re ok. Google Glass was an interesting experiment, a nice but unfinished gadget. Even if we throw it away we have learned things to design more acceptable products later. But that’s not true.

Google Glass has a true potential…in the business world

Here again I stick to my first comments when the products was launched and that have been proven right over time. Google Glass raise issues in one’s personal life and I don’t see this changing anytime soon, even more because privacy becomes a more and more sensitive matter even for those who used to overlook it in the first times. On the other hand, in a business context…

Virgin Atlantic is starting a pilot for its staff members with Google Glass, same for the French Rail roads and its inspectors[link in french]. Same for the Dubai Police and maybe one day the NYPD. I think that for the concerned people and businesses the business case is obvious so the economic argument collapses. And considering acceptability…I don’t care if a flight attendant, a policeman, a doctor… wears Google Glass at work. But it wouldn’t be the case if it was a passenger or a patient in an hospital.

Yes, Google Glass has the potential to be game changers, to support new practices, new models. For professionals, not for individuals.

Crédit Image : Hattanas Kumchai /

Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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