As the Apple Watch launch nears I want to divert your attention slightly to another successful wearable product. This wearable predates the Apple Watch by two years and came out with an equally raucous launch. Except that wearable failed and while the jury is still out on the Apple Watch, I imagine it’ll have a much more positive response two years from now (spring of 2017).
Yet the biggest difference between the Google Glass and the Apple Watch is that Glass is a minimum viable product (MVP) and the Apple Watch is a consumer-ready product.
Take a moment to think about that, and then reconsider the successes and failures of each. And further, an MVP is simply the version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.
As the Google Glass MVP program wraps up, think about the following hypothesis that have been tested.
1. The Public is Ready For Glass
Just because they were tested doesn’t mean they were validated. Let’s start off with a giant Fail.
This was perhaps the most important hypothesis for Google to test. The entire product hinged upon it and unfortunately as we all learned, the world isn’t ready for Glassholes.
Between the creep factor, the nerdiness and the sheer douchbaggery that you’d expect from someone shouting out orders of jaeger bombs over a dozen heads at the bar on a Thursday night, we aren’t ready for videocameras and obnoxious technology thrust in our faces…literally.
But this isn’t really a failure. Remember, a failure in the lean world is an opportunity to pivot. So instead of public perception, on the other hand…
2. The Workplace is Ready for Glass
Industrial applications of Glass (and similar devices from Vuzix, et al) excelled. In the workplace there are a few very key differences:
- Functionality trumps fashion,
- The purpose of the wearable is to display and record video so there’s no longer an awkward, unknown, voyeurism to the device,
- And perhaps most important, what the boss says goes, so you don’t have a choice!
Whether the B2B play is something Google wants to pivot to is another debate. I’d guess though that Google is more interested in a bigger pivot while still making a consumer play.
3. Fashion Doesn’t Matter
Google Glass had zero design aesthetic to it. It was minimalist, but I wonder if that was an intentional look, or just how the coin landed. In any case, Google thought that there’s an early adopter market for Glass without fashion, but as we’ve learned in the wearables space over the past two years, stylish design is a requisite feature for each new device in the space. The Pebble is even runways full of more style than the Glass, even if it just appeals to a particular niche.
Glass, on the other hand, tried to get away without a look, and it didn’t. And not only did Google learn this lesson, but also Apple, who is piggybacking on Google’s Glass MVP validated learnings for its own Apple Watch.
Where Does Google Go From Here
Glass failed in many ways and you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking it a failed product. What you’d be faulted for is thinking that it IS a product, when in fact its simply an MVP on a Google-size scale.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the successes of Google Glass. After all, Google is reinventing itself from a simple web search & click ads company (simple in retrospect, at least) into a moonshot company. Moonshots in the sense of life-changing products and technologies, that will not only impact early adopters in North America, but everyone and everywhere.
And where does Google go with Glass from here? Well of course they’ll just pivot, but to what we’ll have to wait and see.