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Backlash against Google Glass was a known risk, but worth it, says marketing head


Google Glass hasn’t always enjoyed the best of public images. There can’t be too many products that have found themselves banned  in everywhere from bars to workplaces to cars (that one later reversed), with governments raising privacy concerns and even noted fans wondering whether the product may be doomed.

Forbes staff writer Jeff Bercovici wondered whether early Glass advocate Robert Scoble was right in accusing Google of having botched the PR. Marketing head Ed Sanders, perhaps predictably, says no.

The backlash is a result of the way Google decided to roll out Glass, he says — but it was a deliberate decision to do it that way, with a limited public beta surrounded by a nimbus of hype and curiosity. “Yes, it was an unusual step of doing it so exposed, and risks come with that,” he says. “We knew there would be downsides, but we also knew and know there would be tremendous upside” …

The best way to correct what he describes as “misperceptions” about Glass is, he says, to try it – but the company knew that to get it right, it would have to limit the number of people given that opportunity in the beta days. Interestingly, he reveals that the steep $1500 price of the Explorer edition was a very deliberate choice.

“The high price point isn’t just about the cost of the device. We want people who are going to be passionate about it.” Just giving it away to beta-testers wouldn’t have produced the same kind of self-selection effect, he says: “We wanted people who really wanted it.”

The backlash is, he argues, a necessary part of of bringing truly disruptive technology to market.

It’s a fair point, but when even our own Seth Weintraub finds himself feeling uncomfortable wearing them, you have to wonder whether Google could have done more to prepare the device for public acceptance.

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