Users In Glass' Marketing & Advertising Materials
Although Glass has not been introduced to all of society, many in society are aware of its presence. This product is not only a big step for Google as a company, but for communication as we know it. Individuals who know about Glass are excited about its release; and, based on reactions I have observed, even individuals unaware of Glass become excited about the device once they know it exists. This excitement triggers consumers to look into resources about Glass—articles, journals, videos, tweets, opinions, and any other forms of information about Glass. While consumers, employees, and everyone in between are aware Glass is in its initial development stage, basic search results show Glass is not going unnoticed. Part of Glass' publicity is credited to its released advertisements.
The first few Glass advertisements and marketing strategies represent Glass as a cool accessory that has presence in the modeling and entertainment industry. Glass advertised to this market is congruent to Glass' designer's, Isabelle Olsson, main goal. Olsson told James Pallister, Dezeen magazine journalist, "…my main objective was to make the clunky prototype into something comfortable and beautiful" (Pallister, 2013). With that in mind, Glass' presence in the modeling and entertainment industry seems to be the perfect fit. Glass has debuted in music videos, concerts, fashion week, Vogue, and many other venues. Though models and celebrities are contributing to Glass' publicity, prospective users who are not in this industry do not understand Glass' utility.
This confused-usability thought gets brought up quite a bit in various conversations about the technology. In fact, Tim O'Reilly, founder of O'Reilly Media, spoke at Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland on Nov. 6, 2014. At the conference, O'Reilly discussed Glass in terms of usability and Google's marketing choice:
I think Google wanted to be too cool, and they should’ve said we want to be useful. Being cool is hard. The history of fashion is littered with failure, but [it’s better] if you’re delivering real utility.
— Tim O'Reilly, Founder of O'Reilly Media, 2014
Persona User That Reflects Optimum Glass Users
Isabelle Olsson credits Glass' design inspiration to "making it as minimal as possible without making it boring. Making it look conventional, looking like glasses, literally, is essential" (Thomas, 2012). Olsson has never discussed Glass' design inspiration in terms of a specific user. However, Victoria Grigoriadis, a Vanity Fair journalist, stated, "Glass' marketing manager, Amanda Rosenberg, acts as the public persona for Glass users. Rosenberg created the command “Okay Glass” and has provided a human face to Glass, much of the way Scarlett Johansson's voice, in Spike Jonze's film Her, is the human interface of a computer operating system so charming and sympathetic that a man falls in love with it" (Grigoriadis, 2014). Using Rosenberg [as the face of Glass] communicates to consumers that in order for them also to be effective Glass users, they must mirror her characteristics—young, healthy, energetic, and tech savvy. Between Rosenberg as the face of Glass and Glass' current advertisements, consumers may be discouraged to interact with Glass because they know they do not fit the demographic.
What Does All of This Mean?
Glass' current advertisements and marketing strategies target individuals who fit Glass' proposed persona. If this message is not obvious enough, it is also pasted all over the Google Glass website, which discourages prospective users who do not fit this promoted audience. If marketing strategies and advertisements do not change to focus on Glass' usability, Glass' success will be jeopardized because the majority of users will not feel adequate. Showcasing Glass as a device that anyone can use through marketing strategies, ads, and other public displays represents Glass as a critical tool everyone needs in order to effectively communicate. It is important that Glass is presented as a device that can and will cater to all of humanity as Glass’ audience. Generating Glass as a device with a general human audience will not only increase profits for Google. It will ultimately advance Google’s power as a company as a broad base of the human race will feel the need to interact with this and other various Google products to increase their productivity. However, it is important for actual functions of Glass to emulate the way in which it is being showcased. Therefore, many features of Glass will need to be investigated in order to promise Glass as a device usable for everyone. Some of the features that should be investigated are associated with Glass' body and identity as well as attributes within Glass that influence various user interactions such as, redesigning and investigating the way in which users are able to connect with the device overall as well as additional features that contribute to users’ abilities to access and distribute information through Glass.