Google Glass Is The New Screen
First off, writing about Google Glass is like dancing about architecture, as the saying goes. To really “get” Glass, a person has to at least experience it (along with Google Now) over a fair amount of time, allowing for consideration of various use cases -- and being open to envisioning what the technology could become.
Perhaps the error in Gord’s limited assessment and two-minute experience in using Glass is that he’s measuring its viability against the standard of a new iPhone’s rate of adoption. In other words, if 50 million people fail to adopt the technology in the first year, then Glass is viewed as an utter failure. (Unofficial estimates place the adoption rate of Glass at 1 million to 2 million users, which, in my estimation as a beta Glass user and demonstrator, is a significant win for Google.)
As I mentioned in the comments of his last column, adoption follows function. Glass is the most highly functional piece of headgear ever created for the consumer market. It may look “stupid” right now, but the fact is we all wear or have worn stupid-looking things on our heads for some functional or aesthetic reason; those things don’t look so strange after people get used to them. Earbuds are a great example. Same for bike helmets, eyeglasses, jewelry, mustaches, and so on. There are easily 1 million to 2 million people who will find Glass a highly functional centerpiece of their personal and professional tech experience, and will get over how it looks (which will likely be customizable in the not-so-distant future).
When worn for the first time, Glass is quickly understood as a new type of screen, separate from desktop, mobile, iPads, automotive dashboards, etc. The experience is entirely different, typically eliciting sheer fascination, amazement, even awe, from those I have allowed to try the eyewear. (That group easily numbers in the hundreds at this point.) With Glass, emails, news, directions, and other messaging are delivered in an entirely new format. This begets an entirely new way of thinking and approach to marketing to the Glass or wearable screen user. What’s more, the various ways in which the screens can be used will expand widely as developers begin promoting new apps.
Over the past three months, I have taken Google Glass into every possible situation, some of which were locations where you might expect Glass to be less than welcome. I recently wore it in a couple of casinos in Vegas, and also it to the movies (recording the first couple of minutes of a film for critical use only, of course). I have taken it into private clubs, into an open government meeting with the Texas Board of Dentistry, to my children’s school, and through TSA security lines. Not once was I made to feel uncomfortable for wearing it. To the contrary, I have been met with much curiosity -- whether from ticket takers, law enforcement officials or children, who have the least amount of predisposed bias and the most enthusiasm.
In upcoming columns I’ll discuss some of the ways Glass will affect marketing, but also, on a deeper level, how it represents the move of search and social deeper into the physical world. For now, though, let the message sink in that Glass is an entirely new screen that we have not encountered before on a mass consumer level, and it will require us to rethink our ideas about technology in our daily lives.