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Google learns lessons from Glass

News, 24 March 2015

AUSTIN, TX: Google could have "done a better job" with the communications surrounding Glass, its controversial connected-eyewear product, according to a leading executive from the company.

Astro Teller, who holds the title "Moonshot Captain" at Google[x] – a unit of the Mountain View-based firm specialising in breakthrough innovation – discussed this topic at South By Southwest (SXSW) 2015.

He argued the "one not-so-great decision" made about this offering by Google, which halted public sales of the prototype to focus on further development in January 2015, involved communications.

"The thing that we did not do well – that was closer to a failure – was that we allowed, and sometimes even encouraged, too much attention for the program," he said. (For more, including why undertaking customer research was a "great decision", read Warc's exclusive report: Google learns lessons from broken Glass.)

Although Google was clearly not responsible for all the hyperbole engulfing Glass, it did stir up some attention, and this fed into some very vocal criticisms, especially regarding the privacy implications of Glass.

When Diane von Furstenberg kitted out models with Glass at New York Fashion Week, for instance, Sergey Brin – a Google co-founder – joined her on the catwalk at the end of the show, also wearing the product.

This one example pointed to a considerably wider problem experienced by Glass, in that the messaging about its precise level of readiness was extremely mixed in form.

"What we wanted was to say to the world was that, 'This is an early prototype of something that we think is really exciting. What do you think? Where can we go from here?' And much of our messaging reflected that," said Teller.

"But we also did things which encouraged people to think of this as a finished product, and the world started to think of it as a finished product while we were still busy not trying to productise [sic] it, but trying to learn as fast as we can, to fail as fast as we can.

"And we could have done a better job of communicating that, and preventing it from becoming as loud a conversation as it got."

Data sourced from Warc