In a recent strategy meeting, a few of us got to chatting about the ominous and slightly eerie street spotting of ‘Explorers’ sporting the wearable tech Google Glass . Admittedly, there is a very large creep factor and general shunning towards these evangelist Explorers, many of which are finding themselves in uncomfortable or even dangerous situations like this guy. Google has actually written a guide on “How not to be a Glasshole” and wearing the glasses has been likened to the modern day scarlet letter. Even the most vocal early adopters have given up after enduring public ostracizing. But why? Google is a titan we all can’t imagine a world without. How could such a capable and generally respected company completely miss the mark? One has to wonder why there is so much resentment towards a product yet to hit the shelves.
The Wrong Place at the Wrong Time
With no public visualization of the benefits, it has been hard to change perceptions. If Google first rolled Glass out to the Medical, Military or service industry, we likely would have had a different first impression. Seamless technical productivity vs. tech geek with x-ray power dreams. The marketing angle was simply about how cool Google is. What the public really needed to see is how Google Glass can take the professional away from the desk with the same information at their fingertips. The poorly executed rollout and marketing failed to show the benefits, instead favored the tech elitist community, further dividing Google Glass from public, resulting in publish outlash and even violence in some cases. Alternatively, if Google’s marketing was strategic, they could have showcased how Glass could help medical students to see an acting surgeon’s up close and personal view while operating. We need a direct visualization of how the technology helps rather than harms. A “cool Explorer” who can’t get away from his screen is not a key selling point.
Defenders might argue that the public has technophobia similar to the release of the the first cell phones. The differentiator in the case with Google Glass is visibility. Pulling your phone out to snap a photo is different than taking pictures of unsuspecting bystanders. Many bars, restaurants, gyms, movie theaters etc have banned the device, citing the privacy rights of the other customers. Google’s marketing didn’t do enough to differentiate the product into a useful tool instead of a cool tech toy. In a country already wary of privacy intrusions, there should have been better communication and explanation of the product to the general public.
Our advice to Google; shift perceptions by breaking the Glass ceiling. Demonstrating the worth of Google Glass by extending the beta group towards service professionals and business environments. Strategically identify gaps and opportunities, and a build out a framework the public can respect.