Google is getting ready to venture back into the wearables market with an updated version of Glass. But hardware is only part of the equation. Has Google learned from its past mistakes?
Glass was an interesting twist on wearables. In many ways it was the perfect wearable - it was lightweight, the display and camera were both at eye level, it had a decent battery life, and it had potential when it came to application.
But the project became another corpse littering the tech roadside, and much of why it failed was down to Google's mismanagement of the project.
- Price. At $1,500, Glass was about $1,000 too expensive for anyone other than posers to take it seriously. Google wanted to command luxury pricing for something that was clearly a prototype.
- 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 have been for the skeptics to see other people wearing it.
- Goofy look. Style is going to be a problem for all wearables, and because Glass is on your face, style is even more important. This is less important in an enterprise setting, but ergonomics are still going to play a part, and I'm not sure Google fully understands this.
- 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 on other people's faces being in their faces. This raised privacy issues that Google did nothing to try to lessen.
- Marketing. Google did little marketing for Glass outside of the initial (over-the-top) unveiling, and then left the job to the early adopters to figure out.
- Developer support. At $1,500 a pop, the ecosystem was never going to be there to support an app store, beyond any custom apps that enterprise users might want.
- Competition: Microsoft's HoloLens is looking good.
So, has Google learned anything from its past mistakes? Well, the FCC filings don't give us much to go on, but it seems like the camera is still present, which means that the privacy issues will continue to be a sore point.
In fact, the only real different that I can see with the new version is that it's foldable. While I did hear from some users of the original Google Glass that it was bulky and hard to store, the inability to fold the device wasn't what killed the project.