Google’s much-hyped wearable computer, Google Glass, has been touted by the tech elite as one of the leaps forward of recent times, but those same elites may hobble mainstream adoption of the device.
While privacy concerns have blossomed (the device may be on its way to being banned at a number of locations), it may comfort those worried that we are all about to become spies for Google that the early adopters of Google Glass are helping to give it an image problem it might not recover from.
The futuristic-looking headset can augment our everyday reality by putting data in our field of vision as well as allowing us to take pictures, and translating the spoken word on the move. But unfortunately, it also appears to have unintended contraceptive powers, as illustrated by this Tumblr featuring members of its decidedly unhip core fanbase.
It’s all very well having wearable technology that lets you livestream yourself hang gliding. But if it has all the sex appeal of orthodontic headgear, it’s unlikely to catch on. Google’s Glass Explorer program has put Google Glass in the hands and on the heads of developers and tech pundits who Google has selected to test it and have paid $1,500. Google chief executive Larry Page has indicated that the product won’t be in stores for about another year, by which time it may be hard to separate it from its association with tech fanatics.
Arguably, success in wearable technology hinges on making people look and feel good as much as providing a functional service. Developers might be happy to fork vast sums for the privilege of being a Google Glass owner, but when the product goes to mass market, fashion, or at least some sort of coolness and covetability will be as critical as functionality.
With this in mind, we asked five marketing experts: How would you position Google Glass to make sure it achieves mainstream success?
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT NERDS.
Jonah Disend, CEO and Founder of Redscout
When we look at the challenge of extending Google Glasses out of nerdom, we believe that the challenge is first, one of execution and second, one of positioning and targeting.
First, in terms of execution, Google Glasses inherently plays in two worlds--fashion and technology--and they haven’t created “cool kid” lust in either area. It is neither an incredible fashion accessory that you would want to wear, nor is it a beautiful or obviously useful gadget that you would want to own.
Second, in terms of positioning and targeting, today Google Glasses is seen as a barrier to social engagement as opposed to an enabler. While it may make your world more exciting and dynamic (as the promotional video might suggest), it does not currently enhance socialization nor have they shown how the value of the glasses increases with additional users (there is currently no clear Network Effect).
Now for our gross generalization about nerds v.ersus everyone else. Nerds actively look to create barriers to protect them from the world, mitigate social engagement, and connect through virtual worlds (think World of Warcraft). In this context, Google Glasses are the ultimate tool for nerds to add a layer of protection between them and others and potentially seal the fate of Google Glasses as something that only the geekiest of the geeks would ever want to wear (or even own).