Google Glass: Far-sighted … or fuzzy?

Google Glass fashionI’ve been blogging about Google Glass forever, it seems — or at least as far back as 2009 when the early conception of the product, then known as “Google Goggles,” was in its preliminary stage of development.

The Google Glass product was “soft-launched” in 2012, but it’s only become available to the broader consumer marketplace since the spring of this year — at about $1,500 a pair.

So … how has Google Glass done so far?

“Underwhelming” might be one way of putting it.

As it turns out, there are a number of key factors that are hindering consumer acceptance of this new piece of electronic gadgetry. Consider these points:

  • Substandard quality of images and video compared to a ~$200 smartphone:  oversaturated colors, lack of depth and dimension and all.
  • Battery life in normal use that is far less than promised: only about three hours instead of a full day.
  • Although somewhat streamlined compared to the beta versions of the product, it remains a somewhat “clunky” wearable device — or as Forbes magazine puts it, a “fashion failure.”
  • The general “creep-out factor” of constant surveillance remains a psychological barrier to many consumers.

Indeed, the jokes haven’t abated about the kind of people who make up the cadre of Google Glass “early adopters.”

“Glassholes” is one of the not-so-nice monikers they’re being called.

Going forward, Google Glass faces even more competition in the “wearables” category as computer power migrates into watches, jewelry and clothing in addition to eyeglasses. Even as these concepts become more mainstream, I suspect that Google Glass will continue to lag behind other products which seem to be harnessing the “high-tech-meets-high-fashion” concept more effectively.

We saw clear evidence of that this past week with the introduction of the Apple Watch.

Whereas Google has taken a “brute force” approach in the technological aspects of Google Glass (with design playing second fiddle), Apple has taken its technological innovation and packaged it in a way that resonates with the marketplace at a more visceral level.

If you glance quickly at someone wearing Apple’s watch, you’d be hard-pressed to think it’s anything much different from an analog version.  If Google hopes to have the same kind of success that Apple is poised to have, it needs to start thinking along those lines, too.

But one wonders if Google is “hard-wired” that way …

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