Last year I went through an interview process for a Product Manager position and I was requested to create a 2 pages document answering the following question: ”Was Google Glass a good product? Why?” (I had 24–48 hours to write it)
While writing the answer I came up with my personal definition for what makes a product great, be P.U.N.K.
Following my original text:
Was Google Glass a good product? Why?
Google Glass was a great idea, but it was offered to the public too early for its time. It was always stated that it was a work-in-progress product and it clearly was lacking the infrastructure, there were no supporting apps and it felt more like an extended screen for the mobile phone.
The Google Glass product might have failed, but the technology within has just started finding its market share.
The previous summary is a quick review of the following analysis, but before reviewing the positive and negative factors of Google Glass, we should identify and confirm what makes a good product.
What makes a product great?
The attributes that define a great product can be highly subjective, but I believe we can all agree with the P.U.N.K.:
1. Proposition: A clear sense of purpose
Delivering value in a singular focused way, allowing the product to distinguish itself within the marketplace.
2. Usability: Simple, intuitive to use
A nice user interface accompanied by a good user experience will make the difference, appealing the user to come back.
3. Necessity: Anticipates the needs
Exceeding the expectations by not only covering the customers’ needs but also the needs that they are not aware of yet.
4. Kansei: Linking emotional responses with the product
Having a product that has an impact in people’s lives, seamlessly interacting with their world and thus marking a pivotal moment by providing a solution that emotionally resonates in the user’s life, binding both the product and the users with passion: creating enthusiasm and changing the user’s life for the better.
Google Glass had a combination of those attributes, at different levels:
Google Glass was the first wearable technology product, creating a new marketplace, a the clear situation to create the dominant position by being the first. But what was the purpose? Linking the virtual environment to the real one or extending the mobile screen?
Here Google Glass was possibly not a finished product. The ability to manage the product via voice and gestures on the side panel was again an extension of the mobile, but Google missed the opportunity to add hand gestures via camera.
The product was, without a doubt, anticipating the needs, but was it solving the actual needs? This is possible in connection with the first attribute: What was the proposition?
Offering complementary Google Glass apps from the beginning would have been a game changer, but companies and developers did not have the chance to create any products in advance.
It could have been a turning point, but there was negative feedback from people feeling embarrassed about wearing them and/or giving voice commands to Google Glass in public. Google Glass did not become a hip product nor an essential tool.
Marketing and public reception
The product had a creative marketing campaign (skydiving to the I/O while streaming live was a clear example), but designing the product in partnership with a popular eyewear brand would have given it the extra wow factor to make it become a hip product.
Privacy concerns were raised in the early stages. Casinos, pubs, and restaurants were forbidding access to any person wearing Google Glass, and this made using them awkwardly.
Present and future
Google Glass has redesigned itself and it is focusing its value on the enterprise solutions.
The technology and idea have clearly a lot of potentials as we can see with other companies investing in augmented reality products like Epson (Moverio BT-200) and Microsoft (HoloLens).
My personal opinion is that Google Cardboard will make a difference for the future of Google Glass. Thanks to this simple tool, developers and companies are creating solutions and products easily adaptable to the Google Glass concept. I trust that Cardboard is an intermediate step towards a product that will bring the virtual and the real world closer.
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P.S.: As previously commented, I wrote this article within 24 hours, I wasn’t able to do proper research on Google Glasses and I certainly did not have all the data to properly asses the product.