Google Glasses : Chronology of a failure

I think everybody here knows what Google Glass is, if not I will briefly explain what this device consists in.

Google Glass is a wearable technology that displays information like on a smartphone. It is hand-free (vocal controls) and considered as an augmented reality device. This device is connected to the Internet and has many features : GPS, mails, Internet, photos, camera… It can be seen as a smartphone incorporated into glasses. However if Google Glass can be seen as a futuristic device it didn’t encounter the expected success. Why ?

 Google Glass

2012 : Google presents its new project. Media start talking about this Google Glass project. Many people start dreaming about this futuristic device. In fact, a smartphone instead of your glasses, wouldn’t it be cool ? Google start selling prototypes for 1.500$ that will be available in 2013.

2013 : People start doubting about the product. Google released the prototypes in May 2013 but will make them available to public only in 2014 with no more information about a precise date or price. At the same time an American survey driven by BiTE showed that only 10% of smartphone users are potentially interested about the product, 45% of smartphone users find the product not attractive ! The same year many governments also start worrying about these glasses. What about privacy concerns ? In fact Google Glass have the feature to record instantaneously videos. How will privacy and personal data be protected ? How is Google going to do with all these data ? The success of the product was already compromised.

2014 : Google starts selling the glasses to the public. The price ? 1.500$, such as the prototypes. The price is clearly a brake for the potential customers that find it too expensive. Moreover as the product is quite complex to handle, you have to add the cost of personalized advices from the retailers. Second main problem : the accuracy of the apps. Some of the users judged the functionalities of the glasses inaccurate, especially when you’re using the vocal controls in a noisy space. Finally we could add that such as every electronic device, Google Glass can be subject to overheating. As a consumer I would find it really uncomfortable to wear an overheating device on my nose. Due to the disappointing sales Babak Parviz, responsible of the Google Glass project and Brian Otis, chief of the R&D department resigned. Many developers also left the company after the failure of the project. According to a survey the Google Glass could have penetrated the market if they had proposed their glasses to a price lower than 300$ which is 5 times lower than the proposed price !

2015 : Google definitively stopped selling Google Glass. However the project may not be completely dead. Google tries to find an alternative to this project. Given that these glasses were not popular to the public Google decided to target other consumers : businesses. This relaunch comes only 6 months after the cease of production. Google tries to avoid a complete failure of the project. Google revealed to companies the potential of its glasses especially in the healthcare, manufacturing and energy industry. In fact there are already some surgeons using this device. Voice control and hand-free screen present obviously some significant benefits. To encounter a success Google must improve their prototypes and probably also lower their prices. This new version should be presented before the end of the year.


After the failure of the commercial Google Glass, are the sales finally going to soar and ecounter some success or is the project already dead ? One thing is certain, Google didn’t give up and does its best to make this project finally profitable.



2 responses to “Google Glasses : Chronology of a failure”

  1. xlaurie says :

    When it comes to IT and innovation, success seems to be determined by speed. The faster you adapt, the faster you implement a disruptive technology, or the faster you explore new markets, the more successful your company will be. It is almost generally accepted knowledge that the company that leads the way, will lock in a competitive advantage and earn positive economic profits (Lieberman & Montgomery, 1988). Sometimes people seem forget that being the first-mover is not always an advantage (Boulding & Christen, 2001). The Google glass project was so new, that it incurred the difficulties you also propose like privacy, as the first ones. Even though there are multiple Google glass-like productions being developed, as Google was the first one actually delivering it to the public, they were also an easy target to blame.

    The problem was not the idea of Google glass, or the device. It was its application. Within the next five to ten years, the idea of a Google glass will probably be widely used in teaching and designing facilities despite privacy concerns. For that, the device needs to be more than just a different way of using your smartphone, it needs to explore the possibilities that augmented reality has to offer. When applied for teaching and designing, privacy concerns are weakened because of the actual application of the device. Within a work or educational environment, people are in function so privacy concerns are different than an environment where people are not.

    Given your suggestion that the costs of the device have also contributed to its failure, this is also probably less of a problem within the teaching and designing applications. Assuming that the device is based on the Google-glass idea, but with the extra functions or augmented reality as described in the paragraph above, we can assume it will also cost around the same amount. Given those assumptions, it is likely that a company which for example designs homes, will buy the devices for their employees. They might not even be personal, they can be used by whoever needs them at that time, further decreasing the costs.


  2. 409346me says :

    Actually, I do not completely agree with you. Google Glass was a project of Google[x]. The Google[x] team is developing self-driving cars, as well as energy-generating kites, self-flying vehicles to deliver goods and high-altitude balloons to provide cheap internet to people living in rural or remote areas (Gunther, 2015). Projects are not driven by driven by short-term financial returns, because it is all about innovation, creativity and thinking big.

    Google ended the Glass Explorer program. This was the phase where early adopters could buy and test it. Many consumers and early adopters have said Google Glass is too pretentious, unfashionable, and expensive and that it is a violation of privacy (Shively, 2013). But Google Glass in the business world is an entirely different story, because it did show companies the potential of using the device. KNVB, Eneco, BAM, Philips Medical, Radboud UMC and Rabobank are examples of Dutch organizations that already started using Google Glass. These are projects with lots of benefits and great potential for the future.

    Before Google Glass, we could not imagine miniaturizing electronics so much that they could fit into eyewear. Google Glass achieved this and even though we will not be seeing this particular device, we will definitely be seeing similar devices in the future (Boosh, 2015). Now it is time for the next step. With all feedback on the first version in mind, Google is developing the next generation of Google Glass.


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