Google Glass--How The Social Brand Of An Innovator is Stronger Than The Black Eye Of Product Failure
I believe all innovators are worthy of applause for having the vision and courage to try something new. As a product manager who has launched many products I want to review what went wrong with Google Glass. As a SME on Social explain why its had little impact.
Google Glass launched in 2012. It was pulled eon in tech time later—Jan 2015. Hindsight is 20/20 because we can all find a reason after the fact. In Google’s case we find:
1) Launch Confusion—It was never clear if Google Glass was actually a launched product or a prototype test in which people paid to participate.
2) High Price--The cost to own a pair of Google Glasses was $1500. This price point prohibited mass-market appeal.
3) Poor Choice in Target Market—With a high price of entry these glasses went to a specific group of users. Users fell into a few select groups; tech zealots, toy collectors with deep pockets, or employees of tech companies that were given a pair. In an era where social sentiment carries high market impact, Google Glass owners did not have a positive Social weight.
4) Ignoring Social Sentiment—Google seemed impervious to the bad social sentiment surrounding their offering and less than positive nicknames Google Glass wearers were given.
5) Pulling the Plug Too Late—It had been apparent for a while that Google Glass was not making it. The multi-tasking required for interacting with the virtual world in one's glasses while engaging in the real world proved too much for most users. No iterations or new releases were introduced. Instead Google, let the product decay like a rotting carcass. Maybe there was no good time to kill it.
6) Confusion Continues—Google continues the lack of clarity even as it pulls the plug. It leaves the door open for a possible return by telling us that Glass was “graduating” from the Google X research lab moving closer to commercialization.
7) Transparency is tough for Google—Google has tough time admitting vulnerability. It took today's earning miss for Google execs to finally admit management shake-ups around Glass headsets earlier this month, reflected investment cutbacks due to the project's failure to meet internal targets.
Everything about Google's brand says playground for innovation. Their campus employee perks position it closer to an amusement park rather than a business park. Google will weather the earnings shortfall better than most because today the innovator is valued above all else. Today innovating is much a greater Social win than the black eye of any product failure. Rather than comparing Google to Microsoft it should be compared to Mad's Alfred E. Neuman
Noreen Poli is product manager and consultant at Ready, Set, Go Social! Her projects range from award winning methodologies to end-to-end mobile gamified applications. Her background in product management is enhanced by experience in user research, analytics, human behavior, and social giving her a unique skill-set custom made for this era of realtime analytics and personalized products.