The Wall Street Journal reports that the Google Glass project is not quite as dead as I had previously imagined, having been rebranded to “Project Aura” and recently hiring from Amazon’s disbanded Lab126, who were responsible for the Fire phone.
Cue snarky comments about the developers of one piece of failed hardware saving another piece of failed hardware.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about. The WSJ sums up the failure of Glass as follows:
The initial version of Glass, which sold for $1,500, prompted a privacy backlash because users could record video in public places without others noticing.
And that’s typical of the narrative which has come to surround Glass, that its failure was the “Glasshole” phenomenon. But that’s not right. The failure of Glass was because nobody could figure out what to do with the fucking thing. That was the point of the “Explorer” program — that if you just got this piece of actually rather impressive hardware into the hands of a few thousand people, the ideas for the software would generate themselves and you’d see it turned into a versatile, powerful wearable.
And had that happened, I think it would have overcome the “Glasshole” label. But the problem isn’t that Glass could be used to take pictures of people without being obvious about it — it’s that that’s all it could do. And that’s not actually enough.