Google Glass isn't Dead

Good Glass isn't dead. Google Glass isn't dead even though the major news outlets seem to keep ringing its death knell and writing its obituary. It is somewhat understandable how they've managed to jump to such conclusions. For many, Google's announcement earlier this year that the Glass would no longer be available for sale has meant increasing numbers of people see Glass as another piece of technology to be tossed into the failure bin of history. I, however, disagree. It is in this article I want to pen some of my reasoning behind my continued faith in the technology.

1. It was an incredibly revolutionary device

For anyone that reads my journal and tweets regularly you will be plainly aware that I am huge proponent of the technology. It is something that really captured my imagination. I've written several articles previously on Glass and on augmented reality technology because I find it's potentially near limitless. Augmented Reality and the Glass device, in my opinion, is probably one of the most revolutionary products since the personal computer. Even those devices we believe have changed our lives since such as the smartphone or the tablet are essentially just smaller, more mobile versions of the PC. We still interact with information displayed trapped on a screen. Glass, and augmented reality, is fundamentally different. It isn't about interacting with the screen but with the world around you. In Facebook's F8 they made a wonderful point - when we talk about Virtual and Augmented Reality. The important word isn't Augmented or Virtual - but Reality. That is what is is all about. It opens up many more possibilities for interactions but the technology just isn't mature enough yet. Being a society that now demands rapid gratification we were unimpressed that the technology was not immediately able to offer us Minority Report or Iron Man like experiences. The technology needs more work before it can become a staple in our lives, which was why...

2. It was never really launched

In their book, 'How Google Works', Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg talk at length about Google's product development cycle. When you read their book it's quite apparent that Glass was never actually launched. Before a Google product is launched it is released, in a beta stage, as a way of collecting more information (Google is a heavily data decision driven company) about the device. They needed people in the real world to use the device and experiment with it - they needed people to explore its potential, hence the name, the 'Explorers Program'. But Glass was different from other Google products such as Chrome or Gmail that can remain released and tweaked and fixed until launched. Glass is a piece of hardware and an incredibly different one at that, it will require much more tinkering, changing and redesigning to get it ready for the mainstream. I've head people compare Google's beta public release of Glass to Apple's secret approach when developing their products. Why asking why Apple can do it in secret but Google can't? The reason, to me, comes back to the fact that Glass is a far more fundamentally revolutionary piece of technology. Precisely because it is so new it needs involvement and feedback from an eclectic variety of uses. The only way for Google to collect this is for the public go out and push it to its limits and feed those limits back to Google. Unfortunately, many interpreted this experimentation phase as a product launch and denounced the product as a failure when Google ended their Explorer trial.

3. We hyped it and then complained it didn't live up to our expectations

The more we started talking, writing and tweeting about the device the more hyped the device became. People quickly forgot this was a (very) early life product, still in beta, maybe even its alpha stage of development. It was precisely because the device was so fundamentally different people got excited, the press got excited and tech geeks like myself got excited. It was very exciting as people, developers and entrepreneurs begin to image to the possibilities. But this hype wasn't what Google were expecting and nor was it particularly what Google wanted for their new experiment - not just yet anyway. People hyped their product expecting it to be ready to incorporate into their lives just like their smartphone or laptop. But the technology just isn't there yet. I have always said that Glass has amazing potential but the situations I imagined in the video I produced last year are a time off and I don't expect to be an every day reality for another five to ten years - likely towards the end of that timeframe.

4. Google (and competitors) still have faith in it

Perhaps, to me, the biggest sign of the technology's continuation is from Google itself. When Glass was removed from sale Google also spun the technology out of Google X (its research division) into its own and put under the nurturing influence of Fadell (of Apple's iPod Fame) to, Schmidt says, "make it ready for users". Google know when to cut their losses on a nonstarter even if it is an innovation but their continued investment in the technology should be an obvious pointer that the technology isn't going away anytime soon. Just like myself and many others Google knew the technology offers incredible potential to change we way we do things and make some money in the process but it isn't going to take some time to get there.

Since Google discontinued their Glass Explorer program, many have hailed it as the death of Glass, Google's Augmented Reality product. I, however, disagree and believe their is much more to come.

2015/03/31

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