Whether we like it or not, and some might actually do, Google Glass as we knew it is practically dead. Whether it comes back in the same form or, hopefully, a better one, only Google, and time, knows. But for now, we are left to ponder what went wrong. In Google Glass’ case, it could have been and probably was a great many things and Astro Teller, who heads Google’s experimental arm Google X, sheds light on one of those reasons: Google’s very own, uncontrolled hype machine.
It’s not that Google Glass didn’t capture the minds and imaginations of technology fans. In fact, it could be faulted for actually being too forward looking, no pun intend. It could very well be too far ahead of its time. Google tried to put out a product at a time when not even the hardware, let alone public perception and laws, have not yet caught up to the idea.
It isn’t wrong, of course, to experiment with ideas. After all, that’s how innovations are born. Google, however, failed to make it unambiguously clear that the $1,500 spectacles it was selling to an exclusive club is nothing more than an expensive prototype. In fact, the way Google marketed Glass was almost like a finished retail product. Teller even admits that at certain points, Google might have even encouraged that line of thinking.
And therein lies the problem. Google didn’t correct the expectation of the public who expected a sort of finished product where there was really only a work in progress. When you consider the mediocre hardware, the dismal battery life, and the awkward appearance of the device, it isn’t surprising to see people feel cheated or disappointed. Add to that concerns about privacy and security and you’ve got a recipe for failure.
That said, Google Glass isn’t the only Google X project that has experienced a similar public misperception. In fact, a lot of Google X’s recent forays have been widely publicized and, often, criticized. That includes drones and everyone’s favorite punching bag, self-driving cars. With these hard-learned lessons, hopefully Google will have a better plan for Google Glass 2. That is, if it still has any.