January 21, 2015

Google Glass Shatters: How Can They Pick up the Pieces?

By Justin H.

Once destined to be the coolest innovation since man discovered fire, Google Glass has officially been canned. Sales have been halted and Google now heads back to the drawing board to figure out where they went wrong. Google may have failed in their first attempt at turning all of us into cyborgs, but they will surely come up with some solutions to make Google Glass 2.0 a hit. Here are some issues that kept the first version from achieving its predicted success.

Problem 1: Price

At $1,500, Google might have priced themselves right out of the market from the very beginning. That price would be better suited for a product that consumers truly need, as opposed to a luxury gadget. However, they deserve a tip of the cap for aiming high, as they have with other products such as Chromecast media players. TechInsights broke down the parts used for Google Glass and determined that the product costs a total of $79.78 to make, including assembly.

Solution: If Google wants to reach the masses with this product, they are going to have to take a hit on that outrageous profit margin they were shooting for. Very few people will pay $1,500 for a toy.

Problem 2: Functionality

Google Glass set YouTube ablaze with its first video demonstrating the product, now up to 26.7 million views. We realize now the video was just the product of some great filming and marketing. In hindsight, any video that involves first-person skydiving, biking through New York City traffic, and engulfing kids in bubbles is going to be awesome. The glasses themselves did little more than take photos and provide directions.

Solution: It needs to do more. Since it is attached to your head, it wouldn’t be too much to ask the glasses to measure heart rate, keep track of health and fitness, track eye movements, etc. Glass also struggled when it came to launching apps. It tried too hard to stand on its own, while it could have been more successful if users could use it in unison with fitness apps, or even come up with an Instagram tie-in. Google could even go a step further and create actual prescription glasses or sunglasses.

Problem 3: Creepiness

Would your friends and family treat you the same way if you strapped a camcorder to your head? It is unlikely. That was a big practical problem with Google Glass. Since everyone can tell that you are wearing it, it takes away the ability to produce candid video and photos. Many movie theaters, bars, and even restaurants banned the glasses since they made others uncomfortable.

Solution: Sony unveiled a detachable alternative to Google Glass at CES 2015. A big knock on Glass was that you can’t use it while driving, so being able to detach at certain times would be extremely beneficial. Google could explore this, or simply make the glasses much less obvious so that you can wear them without the whole world knowing it.

Problem 4: Fashion

Nike’s FuelBands are sleek and fashionable, for all shapes and sizes. The upcoming Apple Watch falls in the same category. Google Glass? It just doesn’t look cool. Wearable technology cannot have this dorky stigma attached to it, otherwise the masses will not buy it, regardless of what it can do.

Solution: Make the product more subtle! One action that Google has taken to ensure the quality and look of its product is the utilization of experts from outside their own offices. They are rumored to be bringing in Apple executive and Nest founder Tony Fadell to oversee the new Google Glass project, which represents a great vision for the future.

The Google Glass experiment was exactly that: an experiment. Now that the company has a better grasp on the product and is shifting Glass into its own standalone project within Google, you can bet that Glass 2.0 will see its way past the previous model.

What are your thoughts on Google Glass? Would you wear it? Let us know in the comment section.

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