Google Glass at the Crossroads

Augmented Reality – Google Glass has been a topic for very many articles in the past but with an email from Google headquarters, this all could go away in a heartbeat. Several recent publications suggest that this is already happening.

The MIT Technology Review has published an article called “Google Glass Is Dead; Long Live Smart Glasses” that explains that Google Glass is dead, based on the fact that Babak Parviz, the creator of Glass, left Google in July for a job as a vice president at Amazon and that several companies have stopped making apps for Google Glass. In its view, the downfall stems from coming out to the market with early prototypes, when more development was needed to attract broader consumer interest in the final product.

The article concludes that while the Google Glass device is dead, other technologies will bring augmented reality to new heights, which is a statement one would expect from a technophile’s publication like the MIT Technology Review.

C/Net has also asked in a video if Google Glass can be saved, basing its assessment on the fact that the consumer roll-out of Google Glass has been pushed back to 2015. C/Net also notes that the Google Glass Basecamps (Google Glass focused stores in four major cities) will be closing down and do not except any new appointments. I guess we can expect some interviews of ex-employees after the shutdown to learn more about why Google Glass will fail.

The Wired sees “The Only Way to Save Google Glass Is to Kill It” as a reminder that Google Glass even still exists. I guess when you swim only on the wave of the latest news you forget about existing products, where companies are supposed to earn the money to come up with new products in the first place.

As The Wired points out pretty much the same as the two sources above (people leaving and locations being shut down), it makes a very good point, which is that Google is not a hardware company. It just does not have the DNA to develop, manufacture (or better, have manufactured) and market a hardware product. As an example, it cites the disaster surrounding the Motorola Mobile division and the envisioned Google phone.

From my perspective, this is all about executive management strategies that can change in a heartbeat. Though could the same happen to Google Glass? Absolutely! If Google sees no economic or strategic value in keeping Google Glass around, it is doomed. Google is known for shutting down non-profitable ventures faster than we can write articles about it.

The CNBC published “Not cool? Diehards abandon Google Glass” about Google co-founder Sergey Brin who actually attended a Silicon Valley event without wearing his Google Glass. Apparently he left it in the car. The article suggests that Google Glass may find some very good and lucrative uses in the workspace, but the chances to penetrate consumer markets are rather slim.

So, where does that leave us? Google Glass is dead, long live augmented reality!

When we look at other introductions of new technologies, the typical adoption follows Rogers adoption and innovation curve. Geoffrey Moore added the Chasm and more recently Gartner added the Trough of Disillusionment which every product has to pass before it reaches success in the market. It doesn’t matter what you call it, but Google Glass has definitely hit it – big time.

As it seems, the higher the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” is, to stay with the Gartner hype cycle, the deeper the “Trough of Disillusionment”. No matter what the companies say, we have to write an RIP note that reaches the product live and well, or as Mark Twain put it “the report of my death was an exaggeration”. According to several sources, Google insists that it will launch Google Glass at a later date. We will see.

Display Central Comment

What is a fact right now, at $1,500 consumers are not lining up to jump on the bandwagon. How important is the killer app that many claim is missing from augmented reality headsets? I would say that this question is also greatly exaggerated. Consumers will have different needs and requirements and what is a killer app for one may not be one for someone else. In my opinion the entry price point is not at a level that will allow for mass adoption. When we look at price points for TVs, why would I spend that much money on Google Glass when I can get a 55″ UHD TV for less? I think smartglasses have not found their sweet spot when it comes to street price. Everything else seems to me secondary. If the first iPhone would have carried a cost of $1,500 a piece, I strongly believe adoption rates would have been close to zero too. And we know how that went. – Norbert Hildebrand