Google Fights Back to Defend Google Glass Against 'Myths'

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2014-03-23 Print this article Print
Google Glass

"Myth 10: Glass marks the end of privacy. When cameras first hit the consumer market in the late 19th century, people declared an end to privacy. Cameras were banned in parks, at national monuments and on beaches.  People feared the same when the first cell phone cameras came out. Today, there are more cameras than ever before. In ten years there will be even more cameras, with or without Glass. 150+ years of cameras and eight years of YouTube are a good indicator of the kinds of photos and videos people capture—from our favorite cat videos to dramatic, perspective-changing looks at environmental destruction, government crackdowns, and everyday human miracles."

The Glass myth defense list by Google is interesting, according to several IT analysts eWEEK interviewed.

"This should be a lesson on why not to release alpha products broadly," wrote Rob Enderle, principal analyst of Enderle Group, in an email reply to eWEEK's inquiry. "Basically you lose control of the product's image and long before you are ready a good chunk of your audience has decided the thing is crap. Steve Jobs is laughing from his grave at Google for this. They basically killed the magic and now are trying to dig out of the hole they created."

What Google should have done, wrote Enderle, was wait to release Glass into the hands of the public—even with beta testers—until it was more developed. "The more traditional practice of waiting until the product is cooked so that it leaves a good impression initially seems to work far better, but these guys are engineers and clearly don't get how humans heads work," wrote Enderle.  

The myth-busting effort could ultimately turn out to have the opposite effect, he wrote, because "there is a good chance they are still doing as much damage as good given the product folks are 'myth-busting' the early development versions. For a company that lives off advertising dollars, you'd think they'd understand more about marketing than just how to spell it."

Charles King, the principal analyst of Pund-IT, agreed, arguing that "any time a company feels the need to explode 'myths' about its products or services, they've fallen behind public perception. That's certainly the case with Google Glass and the company's relative passivity in light of often negative news stories and opinion pieces has been difficult to parse."

At the same time, King wrote, "some of Google's points are well-taken–that Glass is not inherently injurious to privacy or security is clear to anyone who has investigated the technology. But the company has also done a poor job of positioning Glass as something more than a rich geek's play toy. Glass Explorers may inhabit 'all walks of life,' but here in the Bay Area, Glass is seldom, if ever, seen outside the confines of Silicon Valley or the 'Silicon Alley' startup community in San Francisco."

Dan Maycock, an analyst with OneAccord Digital, said that Google has been very open about the fact that Glass is still evolving in beta form and is not a final product. "When it is ready for prime time, I think they're going to have answers to this stuff," said Maycock. "I think for them it's going to be about getting people used to the concept of something like Google Glass and getting them used to it being used in public. They're not going to give up on it. They'll continue to tweak and refine it."

Maycock said his company acquired and bought a Glass device about a month ago and has been experimenting with it. "I definitely have run into a lot of these points [on the myth list] along the way," he said. "You get a lot of questions from people in public about privacy and about the $1,500 price."


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