GOOGLE GLASS 2.0: A BRIEF RENAISSANCE
Glass may have failed to catch on with ordinary consumers, but it found new life for a while as a tool for businesses. Google discovered that some companies used their smart glasses–equipped with custom software–in factories and other enterprise settings.
In 2014, while the Explorer version was facing technical problems and dwindling popularity, a small team at Google quietly began working on a version specifically tailored for the workplace called Glass Enterprise Edition (EE).
EE was designed to be lighter and more ergonomic, with longer battery life and better customization options. To address privacy concerns, the device was outfitted with a light that turned on when the camera was recording.
To better adapt the new Glass for particular workplace requirements, Google created a network of “solution partners” which included software vendors and hardware resellers. These partners bought the EE devices from Google, equipped them with customized end-to-end solutions, and sold the complete hardware and software package to corporate clients.
Companies that tested the Enterprise Edition such as Boeing, DHL, GE, and Volkswagen observed significant productivity gains and improvements in quality. By the time EE was officially launched in 2017, more than 50 businesses in fields like manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare were already using it.
An upgraded version of the device, the Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2, was released in 2019. While it gained generally positive reviews, the second edition turned out to be the final act for Google Glass.
Four years later, Google discontinued the product amid cost-cutting measures, including the layoff of about 12,000 employees, in response to recession jitters.
According to one of the company’s partner vendors, while Glass had “interesting technology”, the cost and adoption curve were too much for their small- and midsize-business customers. In the end, the limited customer base and the challenging macroeconomic environment spelled the end for Google’s wearable device.
HOW OTHER COMPANIES CAN BUILD BETTER PRODUCTS
As the case of Google Glass illustrates, the process of developing and bringing a product to market can be paved with missteps, technological challenges, and execution failures.
Our company, FROM: The Digital Transformation Agency, has worked with dozens of major brands to investigate why their products aren’t performing as intended and recommend refinements that can substantially improve user satisfaction and business outcomes.
Through decades of research and collaboration with these companies, we have developed the Execution Gap Model to help businesses diagnose shortcomings and weaknesses in their products.