Stubborn is not normally a word you’d associate with Google. Despite its size and the fact that it’s considering paying a dividend for the first time, the company still has the heart of an agile Silicon Valley start-up. It seems somehow wrong that it would dig in its heels in the face of overwhelming opinion and stick with an unpopular product. And yet this is exactly what it’s doing with Google Glass.
After the much-derided headset flopped back in January, Google returned to the drawing board. Now, it seems, the tech giant is planning to tiptoe the device back into our lives through the back door – the workplace.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is introducing a new, business version of the product on the QT. This lower-key version is apparently designed to fix itself to various glasses, and will be available in the autumn.
It’s a smart move by Google. Consumers didn’t take to it before because of the price and because it undermines the fundamental trust of face-to-face conversation. People don’t like to think you could be recording them without asking. The nerdy design didn’t exactly help either. But in a business setting, these aren’t really problems.
Paramedics wear uniforms, call centre staff endure Britney Spears-eque headsets and construction workers don hard hats because their employers tell them to, all for the good of the business. The augmented reality of the Google Glass could help doctors get a second opinion on that rash or interior designers visualise those new drapes – in short, there are potentially plenty of practical applications.
This could then help break down consumer wariness. Is it so weird to wear one on the high street when you’re already used to it from the office? It could be enough for it to gain a foothold.
But there’s no guarantee that Google’s new business-centred approach will pay off. Ultimately, the technology might always be considered too intrusive to become a permanent fixture in either the office or the home. Time will tell.
Either way, Google’s willingness to rethink its strategy shows that it is still able to adapt, even if in this case it’s convinced it knows best.
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