The end is nigh for Google Glass

The end is nigh for Google Glass

Summary: Google Glass is dead. I just hope it doesn't take the entire wearables sector down with it.

TOPICS: Hardware, Google

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.

Google Glass
(Source: Google)

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.

Topics: Hardware, Google

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  • Marketing was horrible

    You are so right. I keep up with tech and I didn't even realize that it had been released for general sale. I thought it was still in some kind of an extended testing phase. Personally, I see it as an idea looking for a function. It's one of those, "let's see if we can do it. . .Okay we did it" ideas. I still cannot conceive of a use outside of law enforcement for it.
    • it was release for general sale FOR

      ONE DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Egads people, no this isn't marketed yet because ITS NOT AVAILABLE to the general consumer yet. It's still in dev stage.

      Wow Just WOW
      • Oh dear, it's not as bad as the Kin

        Microsoft's Zune, Surface and Kin were released to the public.

        Then they failed.

        Google Glass still needs to be released to the general public.

        Also, the NSA has not helped Google Glass. People will worry that the NSA has infiltrated Glass, and is spying on people who are naked in their homes, just like Britain's spy agency GCHQ was found to have done with people's web cameras.
        • They're renaming it, I heard

          to the new "Google Glass Nexus Q"

          Oh dear, I shouldn't have brought that up....
          • They tried to market it on..

            ... Buzz, Wave and Plus...that is the problem.

          Forget about the Zune. The Zune was fine. Every single solitary person I have ever heard of owning a Zune loved it, mostly saying it was better than their iPod.

          The Zune failed because of two reasons. Firstly, the advanced mp3 player market was pretty much clogged with iPods galore, breaking into the market was going to take a lot of time, money and effort, and Microsoft would have done it except everyone knew or should have known, and Microsoft definitely knew about #2.

          Number 2 was that the stand alone mp3 player market was ready to go into free fall practically as the Zune was released. I first heard about this from an MS tekkie actually back in 2010 I was told the whole thing had been a boondoggle. No sooner had the iPhone hit the market it became bluntly apparent that the risk was an extraordinarily high one that most of the stand alone mp3 player market would be absorbed into the smartphone market. Microsoft had already put into the works plenty of clever marketing schemes and it was a case of unfortunately no point in turning back just as they started because money had already been spent and plans had already been executed to a significant degree and players had already been produced and going out and selling what they had, there was little to lose by at least following through on their current projects that were practically bought and paid for already.

          But, as I said it was apparently seen generally to be a boondoggle at MS early on because the likelihood was so high that the entire stand alone mp3 player market was about to crash anyway. Of course the Microsoft haters scream their heads off that the Zune failed because it was lousy. Yet you cant find a Zune owner who says a single thing against the Zune and pretty much will rave about its abilities and quality.

          The Zune failed because of very bad timing and a company that recognized it early on and seen little to no purpose in carrying on a difficult long term marketing battle over a product form factor that was about to become largely obsolete and whatever existing market that would be left was hardly worth anything close to the time money and effort it would to make headway against the already dominant iPods. Microsoft gave up because there literally was no point. Certainly no point if they are interested in eventually generating any kind of profit that would have justified the cost of carrying on the battle.

          So give up on your grips about the Zune. Nothing wrong with the product at all from what I see, just the timing. And that was horrible.

          BUT!!! Google goggles! I TOLD YOU SO I TOLD YOU SO I TOLD YOU SO!!!

          I never once said Google Glass was some inherently bad or crappy product, just a product the public would without a doubt have problems accepting in society at large.

          Every single time I said this I would get the same cheap simple minded comments back. Comments like, "So what, people already carry around smartphones with cameras everywhere already!!" "So what, there are already security cameras at offices and businesses everywhere already!!" "So what, are you against progress or something!!!!"

          Its astonishing that people who make these comments just don't seem to understand the most simple things that millions on millions of people who are just average people would tell you quickly and bluntly.

          People know that countless thousands of others are cramming their local streets and businesses with smartphones packing cameras in them. The difference is, and this is the important part I tried so many times to point out, that these thousands of people with smartphones are not at the ready with their cameras already turned on and pointing forward ready to record sound and video or pictures at the mere click of a button.

          For lords sake, Im sure everyone has seen many people on the streets purposefully avoid walking near or close to people with their cameras out ready to take pictures. They don't want to be in the background or side ground of a strangers picture. Most people understand that the person wearing the infamous Google goggles can basically take a pic or video of whatever they are looking at, at the drop of a dime. They don't want any part of it. For the majority of humans, living in a city where there are thousands crawling the street wearing these things would feel downright creepy to them. Very uncomfortable.

          Secondly, security cameras in stores and offices?? That's nothing even close to some "random" crawling around the streets snapping photos, recording sound or shooting video unnoticed wherever they choose to go. If some unauthorized security video of you turns up on Youtube you have a reasonable chance of figuring out where and when that video of you was shoot, and the company that runs the camera is accountable. Its ALL about the accountability of businesses and others who have security cameras and the practically complete unaccountability of "randoms" on the street recording us unannounced and us unaware its even happening, only suspecting that every time we spot Google goggles on someone's head its potentially possible its happening right then and there!

          And there in lies the problem socially with Google glass. I don't follow whats so difficult to understand about that. It seems like the only ones who just cant absorb the problem are those who just would love to own a set of these things and don't want anyone to complain about it. It would really help SO MUCH around here if people could just clear their mind of stupid allegiances to certain companies, and set aside their uncontrollable personal cravings for everything and anything tech at all costs attitude and evaluate things in a more understanding and broad interest kind of way.

          While its 100% understandable for people to say, "here is why 'I' like this product and similarly people like me might also like it", its conversely ridiculous to say "people should think and feel the way I do about things because the way Im thinking about this particular thing seems to work great for me, so it should work the same way for others and hence they should feel the same as I do about this", ITS SO STUPID!!!

          It should not have to be explained why in detail every time you find out that the majority of the world DOES NOT feel the same way as you do, that why it is they feel differently and why that's alright.

          Far too many around here are obtusely intolerant of the fact that others do not always agree with their choice of products. They don't seem to care, in the least why others don't agree. You can explain why, one product is NOT such a good thing for you even if they like it, and its like they shut off their brain because to them, simple obvious logic starts sounding like lies or something to them. They cannot believe, that a product they think is great, and a right choice, is actually not the right choice for very good reason for many.

          But here we have a story on Google Glass that pretty much said the same thing I said from day one;

          The public wont like this much. And not just because it looks odd.
          • Bit of revisionist history going on here

            To this day, Apple still sells four million iPods a quarter. And that was a much bigger figure when the Zune bowed out.

            The Zune lost in a fair fight.
          • In fairness.

            The iPod had to change into a "phoneless smartphone" to maintain the dominant share of the shrinking mp3 market. Had it remained just an mp3 player, it would have dissolved away years earlier.
          • Yes, the Zune lost in a very fair fight.

            Its exactly what Im saying and have always said.

            Nothing unfair about it.

            But, its not because the Zune was an inherently poor product. Ask anyone who ever owned a Zune, look up reviews, and you will see that it was a very good product. Its just that it was competing in a market that the iPod was rapidly conquering to almost perfection, and the market itself was on the verge of massive decline due to absorption into the smartphone market. It turns out that even as Microsoft had put a good whack of money time and effort into the Zune the writing on the wall started to appear that if MS wanted to continue they would be entering into a major commercial bootfight that could take years to get significant headway and by then the market would be only a fraction of what it was.

            Simply not worth the effort and cash.

            But Im not saying in any way that there was something unfair in what Microsoft had to endure or compete against. As far as I can see, any 8-ball they were behind, they were put there on their own accord and late to arrive at the game actions.

            No revisionist history at all. This is absolute history published anywhere and well know and accepted. Firstly we know that the iPod was always much bigger in the market that the Zune, the Zune was never toppled from some higher loft, it was never able to get to a loft. The iPod was in the loft. Look at well known and published history of the timelines of products we speak of. By time the Zune was making any kind of name for itself there was certainly some realization that smartphones were turning into mp3 players. Common sense dictates that most people would rather carry one device as opposed to two. Common sense dictates that the mp3 playing smartphone would be a game changer in the stand alone mp3 player market. At least a very very high risk that it would.

            We also know that the Zune was going to have to try and steal market share from the iPod if it was to ever start selling in good numbers and that was going to be a very tough thing to do. The iPod was and is a great device. I have owned an 80GB Classic for years and I still think its a particularly amazing device. Stealing market share from the iPod is a tough expensive long battle even for moderate success. At least I believe it would be.

            The Zune, didn't really get underway in any significant way until 2006. The iPod had been around since 2001. The iPhone was released in 2007. As I said, "No sooner had the iPhone hit the market it became bluntly apparent that the risk was an extraordinarily high one that most of the stand alone mp3 player market would be absorbed into the smartphone market. Microsoft had already put into the works plenty of clever marketing schemes and it was a case of unfortunately no point in turning back just as they started because money had already been spent"

            Where is the revisionist history when Microsoft decided to give up the war eventually, considering how tough their opponent was and the fact that they knew almost for certain that the market they were hoping to win a small slice of was about to shrink significantly? Nothing revisionist. At all. Its what happened.

            Microsoft gave up because it was an unwinnable war from a profitable standpoint. Fight like hell for several years to get a small slice of a shrunken pie? Not worth it.

            The Zune wasn't a bad product, but it was a failed product due to poor timing coming so late into the market that iPods were clobbering it and the inevitable market shrinkage made it a fruitless battle.

            No revision, just obvious history.

            This isn't what Microsoft haters want to hear. I know. They just want to believe that the Zune was garbage and that's why it failed. The Zune failed much the same way that the last company to enter the buggy whip market failed. It mattered little how good the product was. They came late to an industry on a decline competing in a saturated market with some already well respected producers. Not good.

            It takes nothing away from the iPod. As you have said, they do still sell today in some significantly reduced numbers, but they are selling. AND...I own one and think its great.
          • Another reason that the Zune was perceived as failing...

   that it was a US-only device.

            How can any company expect to have the next must-have device if said device is only available in one country - a country which has two borders and the world's largest oceans on either side?
          • Here's my take on why Zune failed

            If given the choice, Microsoft users will only Microsoft products for several reasons.

            1. They are forced to use it due to the company they work for/peer pressure.
            2. They are brainwashed into using their products.

            If Apple comes out with a product and the person has a choice, chances are they'll buy it unless they've been brainwashed or peer pressured not to. Plus Zune was and still is a stupid name for a product. naming a product can actually have an impact on sales.

            Google Glass to me is stupid because it just is. I don't have the warm and fuzzies about a product that already makes others feel uncomfortable and is getting banned from various public places.
        • It's not the NSA...

          It's the upskirt photo and the toilet cam pervs, the guy with the telescope on the 13th floor of the building across from you, the guy who hacked Erin Andrews' peephole, etc.

          People don't like it when a complete stranger points a camera at them, let alone one that may be more covert.

          Don't believe me? Next time you go to the grocery store, the mall, your local park, etc., take out your phone and start walking up to random people and taking their picture without saying a word, then come back and tell me how many times you got sworn at, punched or had something thrown at you.

          The NSA is just the icing on the cake, but the cake's been around allot longer than the recent NSA issue.
        • Nope, nope and yeah

          I wouldn't consider Zune a failure, for a product entering the market at a time that the market was flooded with the iPod, only being released in the US, and at a time the music market was shifting to phones care of the iPhone in 2007, the fact Zune sold at all is a decent effort. Also it's interface was the start of what led to Metro. Anyone that I showed the Zune to (online unfortunately as they weren't released here) loved the look of it, and liked the interface (which was included with Windows Mobile 6).

          Surface has already been more successful in it's market segment after just over a year than the Mac and Linux has been after 20 years, so if it's a failure than those other 2 are the worst products ever released in the history of products being released.

          Kin was another US only thing, not sure what the hell they were thinking with that one. Perhaps a knee jerk reaction to the shift to mobiles from standalone music players and an attempt to reuse some of the Zune stuff. That one was a very bad decision that highlights the risks of taking knee jerk reactions to changes in the marketplace.
      • what ???

        I have to agree, google glass wasn't released, like the email I got from google

        "Just in case you missed our note this weekend, today's the day to get your Glass. We're seeking new Explorers and we're opening up some spots in the Glass Explorer Program. "

        Got than on the 15th. this article is stupid from a jealous apple loving scroogle, get your facts right, this is the explorer program, not general release, and considering the apple 5s cost 800$ without a carrior subsidity.

        to evoryone who feels your privacy is being violated by google glass, your not that important, people aren't going to waste their battery time or data to record you, if it happens its because your wife/daughter is sluting it up flashing their hohoo at the entire resturant or your drunk and being stupid, and if any of those things are happening there's gonna be someone else next to the google glass guy recording your wife with their cellphone
        • Apple could give a damn about Glass

          Apple is hardly "jealous" of so wrong-headed, poorly designed, ineptly managed and marketed technology. You could say Glass is an anti-Apple idea, something they would never develop for reasons becoming apparent. Only a truly evil soulless entity like Google would develop such pariah creating & antagonistic technology. And jerks like you who are contemptuous and un-empathetic about people's privacy are in fact the enemy of society at large. Obviously you are as equally soulless and evil-hearted as Google.
        • It's all in the Wording

          I agree with you, but some people would use it to record in restrooms, and other private places. The movie industry may have a fit if some one decides to record and then edit and distribute the movie to family and friends. I can see where Glass would be appreciated in the medical field providing the proper applications for glass. It would help nurses, physicians and save life to an extent. They need to continue and make apps for it and bring the price down and make it affordable. It would even help students in college and high school with note taking etc.
        • Cracks me up...

          How everyone who in the "Apple is expensive" camp quotes the unsubsidized 64 GB model. Never do they mention that the unsubsidized Samsung Galaxy S line (which is the single most compared phone to iPhone) is identical, or at least very close, in price to the iPhone line. For example, the Galaxy s5 16 GB is $649 unsubsidized. Dare to guess how much the 16 GB iPhone 5S is unsubsidized?

          No matter how you spin it, $1500 is expensive. I can only gather you were trying to argue otherwise given how that tidbit about the iPhone cost was shoehorned into your rant.
          • You are not comparing like to like.

            Its because an unsubsidized 128 gig model of the S5? Runs $700 if you get the SD card from Sears. =) Twice the memory and 150 dollars less. Not to mention superior in almost every single way.
            (An argument could be made about the OS, true, but hardware wise?)
          • Yes, actually I am.

            The bottom line is, the 5S and S5 16 GB editions, which are the most commonly compared smartphones at present (and their past iterations have been for some time) are both $649, which pretty much every Android/Samsung fan conveniently ignores when they want to spin the "Apple's expensive" story. No matter how you try and spin it $649 = $649.

            By the way, the 16 GB edition also happens to be by far the most popular edition of each phone, past and present, another frequently ignored detail.
        • You sir are out of your mind. Without a doubt.

          djdunn420, you talk like someone who just had their first few hours on earth and don't know anything. Its beyond the absolute beyond how you could say such a thing as :

          "to evoryone who feels your privacy is being violated by google glass, your not that important, people aren't going to waste their battery time or data to record you"

          Your a lunatic. And your wrong as wrong as anyone could ever be. How you cannot see this is beyond belief.

          Millions of videos exist on Youtube alone that bluntly show beyond debate that human being absolutely THRIVE on capturing embarrassing and shocking moments in peoples lives on video. And its not as if Youtube is the only website in the world that has such videos.

          How can you possibly be so obtuse and plainly ignorant of reality. This isn't some conspiracy against Google, its plain fact. Sheer utter complete plain fact.

          You telling countless millions around the world to get over themselves???

          You pompous self centered ignorant fool. You get over your own self.

          Since when should the world get over itself so you can get some little thing you want?

          Get real and gain some human understanding.

          The way you talk is an embarrassment to other humans.