There's no doubt that Google Glass was an interesting project, but it was also a deeply flawed project, and as one its most ardent supporters gives up on it, it's only a matter of time until it joins devices such as the Zune, the Kin, the PlayBook, and the Xoom in tech hell.
The idea of a head-wearable computer with integrated prism projector optical display should have gotten all the geeks, nerds, and tech heads drooling. And for a while it did, but it only took a year for the project's most voracious supporter – Robert Scoble – to declare that the device that has been almost consistently on his face for the past year is "freaky and weird."
Here is Scoble's full statement:
Last night before Skrillex at Coachella came on, two guys were talking next to me. One said "I want to get away from the Google Glass guys."
I turn around and there are two guys wearing Glass.
Google does have a problem here.
I haven’t worn mine at all this weekend.
What is going on here in a world where I am carrying around a camera and EVERYONE uses their phones or a GoPro but Glass feels freaky and weird?
Google has launched this product poorly, is what.
But wearable technology needs a different set of skills than Google has. What? Empathy.
Now you could argue that Scoble himself didn't help, and that now infamous shower pic (warning, you can't unsee what the eye has seen, so take care clicking on that link) actually contributed to making Google Glass seem "freaky and weird."
But Scoble has a point. Google is the wrong company to push a product like this because to most users Google is a faceless corporation that deals in information. It's a HAL 9000. But instead of an unblinking red eye, it's an input box featuring a blinking cursor. Sure, Google tries to be cutesy with its logo and easter eggs and stuff, but it's still mostly a faceless multi-billion dollar corporation.
But the name behind Glass isn't the biggest problem with Glass. There were plenty of other speedbumps. For example:
- Price. At $1,500, Glass was about $1,000 too expensive.
- Limited availability. Restricting Glass first to the technorati, and then to people who had $1,500 to blow didn't give this project a mainstream feel. Instead it felt elitist and very "them and us." The best way for Glass to get acceptance would be for people to see increasing numbers of people wearing it. Right now, Glass is 1%, or 0.0001%.
- Goofy look. Style is going to be a problem for all wearables, and because Glass is on your face, style is even more important.
- Front-facing camera. Perhaps the most controversial feature of Glass was the front-facing camera. It seems that there are a lot of people who don't like cameras being in their faces. This raised privacy issues that Google did nothing to try to lessen. A Glass option without a camera may have helped address this problem.
- Marketing. Google did little marketing for Glass outside of the initial fanfare (and over-the-top) unveiling and then left the job to people like Scoble. The bottom line is that users are fickle and move on to new things. The only reason Scoble is having to explain and justify his change of stance on Glass is because he was a high-profile user. I've certain that there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of Glass units gathering dust around the world.
- Application. I can think of hundreds of cool things that Glass could be used to do. But it can't. It's a testament to unfulfilled potential.
Google Glass is dead. I just hope it doesn't take the entire wearables sector down with it.