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Glass: Are the cracks starting to show?


The pinnacle of marketing personalisation: Remember that scene in Minority Report. Detective John Spartan, on the run from the Thought Police...

The pinnacle of marketing personalisation: Remember that scene in Minority Report. Detective John Spartan, on the run from the Thought Police because they think he murdered Blake Lively, is trying to keep a low profile. But as he runs through a mall, every single billboard springs to life and shouts his name and offers him money off some doughnuts. In the end, he has to buy a new pair of eyeballs to opt out.

Google is trying to create a similar effect with Glass. People wearing Glass – which is essentially a tiny screen and touchpad built into a sunglasses frame – are able to search for things on the web, take photos and chat with other people while wearing the gadget.

Google might say it does search for a living, but we know it’s an advertising company really. Chrome, Gmail and Android all divert eyeballs towards Google’s advertisers, Glass will become another marketing space. Sooner or later we’ll have Google Glass built into our brains, and then we’ll all be living that scene from Minority Report every day of our lives.

Glass is geeky
A number of websites have popped up knocking Glass, arguing that it’s only for a certain type of user, (uncool ones).

Robert Scoble, ex-Microsoft blogger and ultimate geek, took a photo of himself in the shower (and therefore, terrifyingly, in the buff) using Glass, which led to some questions about how cool it really is.

The current Google Glass testing group were given their products after an online competition where Google gave away a few thousand headsets. People had to sign up and enter via Twitter, requiring a certain level of knowledge that only a certain subsection of the world grasped. What they’ve been left with is a test group of ‘geek dads’.

Mainstream marketing
You’re a B2B marketer, looking for the latest and greatest way to get your wonderful message in front of potential buyers. You’re excited for the day that we’re all living in that scene in Minority report, because it looked so cool and worked so well. But now try to remember that most of the new channels we incorporate into our plans spent a lot of time in the cool end before they go mainstream.

The internet was a minefield of newsgroups and hackers before we learnt how to embed pretty animations in the content. Text messaging was for kids until we worked out how to integrate it properly into our campaigns. Apps were the hot new channel for content and then we worked out how to monetise them.

Tarnished reputation
 Glass isn’t going to be spending any time being cool at all. The danger here is not just that Glass won’t catch on, but Google will lose its power as a destination for eyeballs altogether. You’re only as popular as your latest product, and if this one turns out to be associated with Volvos, orthopaedic footwear and soft rock, its unpopularity could tarnish Google’s entire image. And once reputation starts to erode, there isn’t much you can to stop it.

What would happen if Glass was deemed so unhip that people stopped using Google? How would we react? Where would our marketing budget end up being spent? And how much worse would columns in B2B Marketing magazine be if the authors didn’t use Google to check their facts?