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Google Glass as an Example of Innovation Failure

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Innovation is the foremost wheel which drives humanity forward. In this silicone era most innovations we see are all around tech. Not just entrepreneurs but even big tech giants are contributing their fair share of ideas to keep the heat. An innovative idea has a high probability of failure with respect to startups. That’s no big deal, it happens all the time and its reasons are quite well known yet versatile. This research paper is focused on lesser discussed more important topic that is failure of innovation by tech giants. Innovation by a giant means a bigger project requiring more resources like money, skilled labor and lots of time: a fascinating idea that could revolutionize the way we live still fails to succeed in the market. This is a big deal because it’s a tech giant, aiming for high risk and high return because they can still end up as a failure. This not only hurts the value of the company but such big giants at times represent the nation itself. And not to forget the resources, time, ample amount of money and waste of highly skilled technical experts’ time. For this study, I chose one great idea - Google Glass - trying to figure out the reasons for its epic collapse.

Google Glass is a brand of smart glasses—an optical head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of eyeglasses. It was developed with a mission to produce ‘ubicomp’, i.e. a computer (smartphone) is made to appear anywhere and anytime. Since, 2010, Google (GOOG) X, an initiative started by Sebastian Thrun, has attempted to improve life and commodities by a factor of 10, rather than ten percent, through efforts called moonshots. Project Glass was assembled by virtue of these ambitions. Viewed as a vehicle for future technology, the MIT Technology Review comments that “Glass is already miles from where it was in 2011”. In fact, the invention, which was merely a shot in the dark, has taken on an afterlife of its own.

The Dream

Google Glass isn’t coming to save the world, just help it. In fact, the central dispute among members of Google X is whether Glass should be used as a ‘fashionable device’ all the time or “only for specific utilitarian functions.” Drawing inspiration from John F. Kennedy’s understanding that bigger challenges create more passion, specifically in regards to the space race, Google development ultimately strove to integrate feedback into its system. To do this, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who also oversees Google X, suggested Glass be treated as a finished product, despite everyone in the lab knowing it was a ‘prototype, with major kinks to be worked out’. Brin wanted to release Glass to the public and have consumers provide feedback that X could then use to improve the design. The Glass prototype was released early as a result, with the intention of being more forward-looking than expressly convenient. Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO, feels the effort was not in vain, stating: “There has never in the history of new technology been an example where the first version out of the gate has been the right version”. Ultimately, although consumers want wearable technology, the functionality needs to be palatable. As Slate notes, “Glass’ problem is that the technology today simply doesn’t offer anything that average people really want, let alone need, in their everyday lives”. Glass is an interesting idea: it is nice to look at, but not through.

The Reality

Google originally advertised Glass in terms of experience augmentation. The 2012 demo reel featured skydiving, biking as well as wall scaling. Eventually, the videos showed user-friendly information instantaneously appearing on screen during everyday activities. Google’s aspirations were lofty: the technology required lengthy battery life, improved image-recognition capabilities, and a lot of data.

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Rather than augment reality, Glass simply supplemented it. The two to three-hour battery life enabled users to check messages, view photos and search the Internet. Glass was competing with other devices that boasted superior cameras, larger capacity, and faster processors. Before the product was even launched, there were already concerns as to how safe Google Glass is for everyday use. Not everyone was comfortable with the idea of having a gadget that constantly emits carcinogenic radiation so close to the head. There were several reasons for the mainly:

Privacy and Health Concerns

The built-in camera also raised privacy and piracy concerns. Remember that the Google Glass could be recording or taking a photo at any time. This means the person sitting in front of you at the subway or at the next table could be taking a picture or footage of you. “Google Glass is a breakthrough concept, but it involves wearing a camera on your face, saying things like ‘OK, Google’, out loud, and walking around like it’s cool to do those things in public”, - says Dan Kaplan of Threadling. Another main concern was the possibility of illegally filming movies in cinemas, which is the reason why the device was prohibited in a lot of movie theaters. It was also banned in casinos where people didn’t appreciate surreptitious recording. There are simply too many ways to exploit the capabilities of the Google Glass. The mounted camera isn’t really a bad idea, but it could be in the wrong hands and situation.

No Clear Function

“Similarly, in your business, be sure that before you focus on the results or outcome, that you make it crystal clear what problems you solve, or why people might need what you offer”, - says Ian Altman of Forbes. The key to creating a great product is to find the demand or a problem that your product is trying to solve. You don’t just make a product first and find someone who’ll be interested in it after. This is an essential step before determining your target market, planning your promotion strategy, driving in sales, and calling your product a success. Unfortunately, this simple principle in business was overlooked in the development of Google Glass. The Google Glass has two basic functions: to quickly capture images and to have a feed of useful information from the internet a glance away. What are the most practical daily uses for these features? None. Obtaining the Google Glass offered no clear benefit to consumers whatsoever. In fact, even the engineers behind the product weren’t agreeing as to how it should be used. Some argued that it should be worn all the time, while others believed it should only be used in certain situations. This also resulted from the worst reason as to why the Google Glass never took off.

Aesthetically Unappealing

While the idea of a smart device mounted on a pair of glasses sounded awesome, Google Glass’ design somehow looked awkward and very unattractive. The product looked like as if it is still in its prototype stage (which could actually be the case). Not only does it look unnatural, wearing it in a dark alley or even in a crowded place doesn’t really sound too safe, given its price.


Google became caught up in the storm of its own making when it marketed Glass. The company wanted to capitalize on the hype, hope, and potential of the product instead of selling the reality. Rather than promoting the product as a prototype technology from the future as initially intended, the promotion and high price of Glass simply gave it the allure of a super-premium product.

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Google Glass as an Example of Innovation Failure. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Google Glass as an Example of Innovation Failure.” Edubirdie, 28 Oct. 2022,
Google Glass as an Example of Innovation Failure. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 2 Dec. 2023].
Google Glass as an Example of Innovation Failure [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Oct 28 [cited 2023 Dec 2]. Available from:
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