When Google Glass started selling prototypes of its hi-tech headset in May 2013, the response to the new technology was decidedly mixed.
Critics cited privacy concerns, given that Glass users – or “Glassholes,” according to some – could easily record those around them without anyone’s consent. Others wondered if Glass would end up alongside the likes of the Segway, in the pantheon of technology that doesn’t quite live up to its hype.
Now just over a year-and-a-half later, Google Glass is no longer being sold to consumers, the team has left Google X (Google’s development arm), and new leadership is taking over. Is it actually the end for the embattled device, or will Glass rise again in new and improved form?
I’ve heard a variety of different answers to that question.
For those who found Google Glass problematic, this new development confirms everything they thought was wrong – with the product, and with the way Google launched and marketed it.
For those who believe augmented reality is very much on the rise, Glass still has plenty of life left.
Either way, the continuing evolution of Glass offers some important lessons about marketing, customer experience management and technology. For example, Glass shows us that:
- New technology creates new issues. Privacy concerns will continue to plague Glass – along with any other device that allows people to capture images and video of those around them without their knowledge. The reality is that any new technology is bound to come with a new set of concerns or objections, problems we didn’t have before, simply because there was nothing to cause them! It’s up to those who introduce new technology to help people get comfortable with what’s being offered – or to adjust the function of the technology to put people at ease.
- Sometimes you have to fail first. It’s rare that a great idea is great from the very beginning. If Google Glass becomes a massive success after this rumored reboot, the year-and-a-half of sometimes-negative press will largely be forgotten.Failures teach us what doesn’t work, and they enable us to let go and move on. Failures give us the chance to improve and iterate – and to catch other mistakes before they turn into full-blown issues. Failures make us push to do what we do better. If we see them as hurdles, not black holes, we can keep leaping over them until we hit the victory line.
- Try, try again. When a project fails to perform, you have a few different options: wait a little longer to see if it picks up steam; close up shop for good; or work on improving the product to see if a little evolution does the trick. What Google always does, whichever option they choose, is try again. Google seems to always have new products, new advances and new ways to connect its ideas with the people who will find them valuable. Google Glass may end up being a bust of an idea (unlikely, but possibly), but Google isn’t going anywhere.
Of course, most of us don’t have millions of dollars to put into potential success or potential failures. Then again, most of us don’t lose millions when our risks don’t pay off.
What we can learn from Google’s example, whatever industry we’re in and whatever financial bracket we occupy, is that our success depends on our willingness to stay in motion: to adapt, to get back up after we fall and to try a new way to move forward.
From the smallest marketing campaign to the biggest tech launch, the only way to win is to never let the last idea be your last idea.
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