With the announcement coming from Google just a few months ago about their closing of the Glass Explorer project and an uncertain future for Glass resonating in that announcement, one cannot help but start to place Google Glass into the same disastrous product launch categories as Windows Me, Sega Dreamcast, Crystal Pepsi, Bic Disposable Underwear, HD-DVD, and MySpace’s Relaunch.
However, what if Apple had launched this product first? What would we have seen? I can’t help but think they would have done it a bit differently, and whether you drink the “Apple Juice” … uh Kool-Aid, or not, you cannot deny the fact that Apple has the product launch checklist almost down to a science. To this day, I think it is safe to say no other company’s “new” products gets the type of press that Apple ones do.
So what would Apple have done differently then? Here are five of my thoughts on how Apple would have released Glass…
Apple makes sexy products. Period. I even had a client of mine recently who was working on my MacBook Pro say that while he’s not an Apple person, he “feels pretty using it.” Glass, even with some of their clip-ons to make them more like sunglasses, leave a lot to be desired. They almost look like something you’d see a character from Brad Pitt’s Fight Club wearing who was part Borg from Star Trek. They are some of the most unattractive things I’ve ever seen.
Apple on the other hand, would have hired someone high up at Ray Ban or some other high priced sunglasses maker to work with the engineering team there at Apple to product a lightweight, stylish Glass.
We first learned of the Apple Watch via a launch event … but not really a launch event. What that means is Apple is known to announce a product, show a working model of it, and then make consumers wait for it to be available. They are masters at building anticipation for something that, even if it doesn’t do that well over time, still has that initial attraction and intrigue simply based on the marketing and buildup. That kind of sounds like what Bill Gates said when he first founded Microsoft in, “The Pirates of Silicon Valley” movie.
Apple would have had one of the Apple engineering team members come out, describe the product, its features, etc. Then Tim Cook would walk out confidently back on stage wearing it and a live feed of what he was seeing through the wearable on the huge screen behind him. Stats of how many people were at the event, his cue cards as to what to say next, etc. would all be displayed on the screen behind him as the crowd would clap and cheer.
The Apple Watch was not made available but for just a few people who were invited to a secret explorer program. Instead, they were released virtually via a developer’s toolkit where you saw what the watch would look like with your app on it, and function very much as it would on the real thing. Apple’s Glass Toolkit would enable developers to design their apps from their laptops using the InSight Camera or even perhaps on the iPhone as your “view” and display the augmented reality as you developed.
Number 4: Create different styles and price levels of the wearable.
Apple loves putting different price levels out there. Do you want the Apple Watch or the Apple Sport Watch? Do you want a 6 or a 6 Plus? It’s almost as though they do that to make sure people want the bigger and better thing. It’s like a martial arts school selling jock cups to its male students. Why stock small, medium, and large when you can just look at any guy and say, “Need a cup? Extra Large right?” Apple would have the wearable in plenty of different levels and styles to choose from.
Number 5: Show It in Action for crying out loud
Does anyone even remember the Google Glass event? Did they show how it worked for everyone? No? That’s a huge problem if you’re trying to introduce a new product like to the masses.
Apple takes great lengths to prepare these cinematic movies that appear so intimate you almost feel as uncomfortable as when you’re sitting with your new girlfriend or boyfriend during a heavy duty love scene in a movie. Apple unveiling movies (we’ll call them) have style, grace, and a bit of overselling in them, but you also see how they are visioned to work. For example, when Apple showed FaceTime for the first time, the movie was filled with images of kids, families, and service people all using FaceTime. The final image? That’s right, it showed a person who was hearing impaired talking with their spouse. Everyone teared up. Mastery.
If Apple was releasing Glass, you can be certain they would have shown lofty images of a mountain climber in Yosemite National Forest wearing Glass and looking down and snapping a few photos hands free. You would have seen a Dad or a Mom wearing Glass and teaching their child how to ride a bike the first time as they had both hands on the bike and child as video rolled hands free from the wearable Glass.
For the final scene, you’d see a young female student in middle school not talking to her classmates because they are a foreign exchange student. The school then gives him Glass to put on and instantly their world changes as translations in their native language occur with everything they see and hear in the classroom. The student’s world changes forever. Friends start talking to them and they are able to understand and respond in their language. They now can see what the teacher is asking in class and respond quickly. They smile, the new friends chat in the lunchroom about the latest movie released. And finally, from across the way, a young boy comes over and asks, “Would you like to go to the dance with me?” End scene. Go ahead and grab a tissue if you need to.
Say what you want about Apple’s products, the company, why they wait so long to put simple items such as a flash for their phone cameras, or a USB port on their tablets (still waiting, iPad Pro maybe?!?). However, they know how to create excitement, create a vision, and execute it with style. Is Google Glass really a product launch failure, or just a glimpse into what Google has planned for the future of Glass? After their pulling of Google Plus and Glass recently, it’s hard to say either way.
Do I think we’ll see a new “Glass” sometime in the near future? Absolutely. Do I think Apple will push its own version of a wearable head/eye product? I’d say there’s a good chance of it. But one thing’s for sure, if Apple does release a “Glass-type” product, it’ll be released with all of the fanfare and imagery that makes Apple the master of marketing.