Google recently announced the shutting down of its Glass Explorer program, meaning members of the general public will no longer be able to purchase the $1,500 gadget, at least for now.
The company says it hasn’t given up on Glass just yet, but is moving its development out of Google X Division, with Ivy Ross and the rest of Glass team reporting to Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest.
While Google says we will get to see new versions of Glass in the future, experts suggest that the move indicates a failure to promote the device. Early adopters were at first incredibly excited to use the product, but soon complained that it wasn’t evolving in ways that had been promised.
Further, the negative publicity surrounding the ban of Glass in restaurants and other establishments, along with other privacy implications did hurt it hard. One of the only victories to emerge out of the Glass program so far has been arousing interest of other manufacturers in the wearable HUD device market.
Inbox by Gmail
Inbox by Gmail was touted to be the next-generation email platform, with smart features that relied on Google’s personality maps to fix many of the drawbacks of email clients. Post the initial rush to get their hands on the app, user interest has been seen as falling.
Part of this could be due to the fact that Google is still maintaining an invite-only system for signing up for the service. Other users have complained that the app’s smart features don’t work so well all of the time, and a few features like signatures haven’t been carried over from Gmail.
On the Google Play Store, Inbox has a 4-star rating and has been downloaded 151,552 times as of the time of writing this report. With over 1.6 million downloads for the Gmail app just on Google’s app store, there’s clearly a long way for Inbox to go before we can call it a popular service.
Google Fit is the Internet search giant’s answer to Apple’s Health Kit application, and tracks a user’s activity on the premise of helping them remain fit. While the market for activity tracking is growing quickly, it’s still falls into a niche, with majority of users being data freaks.
Google Fit in this regard has been criticized for being bare bones and not providing enough data to meet the demands of its user community. Further there have been complaints of the app not being very accurate and often fails to distinguish when a user is walking, running, cycling or using some other form of transport.
On the Play Store, Google’s Fit app has a 4-star rating and has been downloaded 85,554 times as off the time of writing this report. Other activity tracking apps like Run Keeper are still far more popular, and while Google Fit does allow you to integrate data from multiple service, it doesn’t seem to have caught on in a big way just yet.
Android Wear is Google’s operating system for wearables, and is currently restricted to just smartwatches. The company is making massive strides in adding new features to the platform, but with the smartwatch market being at such a nascent stage, it’s success is far from proven.
Smartwatch sales in 2014 were miniscule in comparison to sales of smartphones, as users don’t yet see a good enough use case for buying into the devices. Further, the devices are still relatively expensive and not widely available just yet.
Coming back to Android Wear, a lot of buyers that have bought into the ecosystem early on say that Google’s biggest focus has been on delivery of notifications to a user’s wrist, which isn’t anything special.
Food for Thought
Google’s newer product lineup has moved away from serving the larger ecosystem, which has really bogged down adoption. The focus has been on beating many of its competitors to the market which does give them bragging rights, but doesn’t serve the purpose of plugging into the rest of its ecosystem.
Timeliness is everything, and the recent success of Apple Pay is a prime example. Working behind the scenes with credit card vendors and getting the public used to Touch ID really helped the service take off immediately after it launched. Apple Pay in many ways was a natural extension of the company’s other products and services, helping users really buy into the technology.
User adoption isn’t just a problem for products built by startups, as indicated by the case with several of Google’s new products. Maturity of the market is something all entrepreneurs must take seriously, and in many cases the first mover advantage can only help you achieve so much. Products are built for real people, and the best ones are built to solve their problems.