As wearables flounder, Google struggles to dispel Glass 'myths'
I have not hidden the fact that I'm yet to be sold on the idea of wearable tech. A post about smartwatches failing to take off lead to some interesting discussions, and many people leapt to the defense of watch 2.0. Judging from the comments, it seems that there is some love for wearable devices, but it still doesn't appear to be translating into sales. It's not just wearables fans who are quick to defend the honor of their beloved devices, the manufacturers are doing so as well. Google is the latest proponent of strapped-to-the-body-tech, which is hardly surprising considering the company's vested in the market with Glass.
Google Glass has received a bad rap, or so Google seems to think. Not happy to sit back and let the rumormongering run its course, Google has instead written a blog entry aiming to dispel some of the "awesome urban myths" (their words, not mine) that have built up around the technologically advanced spectacles. Considering this is a product that is yet to receive a full public release, it is interesting to see that Google already feels the need to stick up for its baby. But that said, this is a device that has seen the term "glass-holes" coined, even before launch.
Google is concerned that while "Myths can be fun, but they can also be confusing or unsettling... and... can morph into something that resembles fact." Well. We couldn't have that now, could we? Although admitting that it is "flattered by the attention", the company is also looking to assuage fears that may have built up surrounding Glass, lest sales take a hit when the device does finally hit the shelves.
The first myth is that Glass is "the ultimate distraction from the real world". This would seem hard to argue against -- it is precisely why Glass users have been banned from using the devices whilst driving. Google is under the impression that lots of people believe that Glass is constantly recording video in a privacy-invading fashion. This is not the case, which will come as a relief to many people, but one of the reasons cited is that "the battery won’t last longer than 45 minutes before it needs to be charged". Well that’s reassuring. Privacy fears can be allayed -- because battery life sucks.
Another "myth" is that Glass users are technology-worshipping geeks. This one is hard for Google to wriggle out of. By its very nature, Glass is geeky. Take exception to the term "technology-worshipping geeks" all you like, but that is the target audience. Google is free to dress things up however it wants, but it’s a geeky gadget. End of story. However, there’s still a long way to go. As Google stresses, Glass is a prototype device and "in the future, today's prototype may look as funny to us as that mobile phone from the mid 80s".
There are various other myths that are picked apart, including that slightly contentious argument against the claim that "Glass is only for those privileged enough to afford it". Well of course it is. This is true of any piece of tech, but when the price tag is $1500, it becomes an aspirational item -- most people just don’t have that sort of money lying around waiting to spend on something unnecessary. But according to Google, this hefty price "doesn’t mean the people who have it are wealthy and entitled. In some cases, their work has paid for it. Others have raised money on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And for some, it’s been a gift." Well that makes me feel much better! Thanks for that, Google! Here Google admits that the price is high enough that those interested have to raise money by asking for donations, or have someone else buy it for them. Someone better off. Someone "privileged enough to afford it".
It is interesting to see -- regardless of whether you are excited about Google Glass or not -- that Google is having to defend its product before it has even officially launched. It is an odd state of affairs, but Google almost certainly has the advertizing nous and hype-building wherewithal to whip would-be customers up into a frenzy before it is ready for the mainstream… whatever that means. But the company needs to be careful that it hasn’t peaked too soon, however. Glass has been on people's lips for a couple of years already and there's still no word on when a final version might be ready. Interest levels can only be maintained for so long before customers start to wander off, distracted by other shiny toys.