In his latest Google+ post, he writes an open letter to the Google Glass team who seem to have now lost one of their biggest advocates.
How could Robert go in just 12 months from someone who said “I will never live a day of my life from now on without it (or a competitor). It’s that significant.” and was even photographed wearing them in the shower, to saying “It’s gotten to the point where even I don’t want to wear them around.“
Summarising Robert’s post, here are the issues he has with Glass as it stands:
- People have too high of expectations for Glass
- Glass in its current iteration is “too hard to buy and acquire”
- There aren’t enough apps. For instance, it’s still missing Uber and Foursquare, and it’s still lacking support for Facebook
- The UI itself simply can’t handle a lot of apps
- The battery doesn’t work well for shooting video. He says it only lasts 45 minutes for video
- It’s too hard to push images from Glass to your smartphone in real time
- There’s no “contextual filtering. When I’m standing on stage, why does Glass give me Tweets? Why can’t it recognize that I’m at a conference at least and show me only tweets about that conference?”
- There’s no easy way for developers to let Glass users test out their apps
This is not a technology issue – it is an influencer management issue
Reading Robert’s post, and stepping back from the numerous technical issues that Robert raises, my view is that this is more of an issue with how the Google Glass team has managed their influencers, than the tech itself.
In addition, I also have experience in what it is like to become an influencer in my own right.
Robert’s post (ironically on Google Plus) provides a detailed view of what is wrong with the product and the approach the team has taken (or not) to keep Robert on-side.
If the Google Glass product team had kept closer to Robert over the last 8 months, then he would never had published the post, and instead he would have been providing this feedback direct to the team, and in confidence. In turn, the Glass product team would have been able to feed this feedback into the design and launch a better product.
Is Scoble a good bellwether for a product’s success?
Robert has become very influential in the tech scene (and he knows this), and his opinion does matter.
He is still an advocate for Google Plus, but it is quite interesting that he has openly and publicly questioned where Google Glass is heading.
One of Google’s issues here is that most of their products are permanently in beta. I am sure that Google’s view on Robert’s post is that all of these issues will be fixed over time. However Google has missed a huge opportunity here, and Google may not be able to recover from this.
If Google wants to have a real consumer facing product that they sell themselves, then they need people like Robert that are connected to the tech and consumer press to be regularly signing their praises.
The news today is filled with headlines that “Google Glass is doomed” – something that I am sure is not in the Google Glass marketing plan!
Lessons for Google
When launching a new product, even one where the participants pay $1,500 for the privilege, you need to stay close to your influencers as they can literally make or break your new product.
When we launched Kred back in 2011, we looked to influence the influencers. In London the week before the official launch, we gathered 50 key influencers at the Hospital Club’s screening room and gave them a sneak preview.
The feedback after the event and for the subsequent launch was incredibly positive, as a result of the relationships we developed during this event.
The following year, in May 2012, we flew 30 key influencers to a Kred Leader’s summit, and developed some really key relationships as a result – many that continue even into 2014.
One of the attendees at the Kred summit, Peter Shankman had a great experience with United Airlines in May 2013. The team at United allowed Peter to become an airplane geek for a day, and stack baggage and guide planes in at Newark Airport. This is publicity money can’t buy, and United didn’t have to.
Google have I fear missed out on millions of dollars of influencer promotion via Robert Scoble, and have no real way of clawing this back.
What is your view – is Robert’s criticism just, and how should the Google Glass team have handled his (and others) involvement in the program?
Leave a comment below or tweet me @AndrewGrill