Several brands debuted apps for Google Glass last year, in part to try to capture the attention of early adopters, as well as to take advantage of this whizbang new technology. A year later, Google has announced it has 100 approved Glassware apps and new branded integrations continue to pop up here and there. However, while wearables are poised to take off in a big way in 2015, the future of Google Glass – and, therefore, its branded apps – remains uncertain. So what does that mean for brands?
With the debut of Apple Watch in early 2015 and excitement surrounding devices like FitBit, Nike+ Fuelband, and Pebble Smartwatch, wearables are certainly a hot buzzword these days and are only poised to get bigger. And that means it’s a space brands are watching and experimenting with.
And, to date, much of that experimentation has been with Google Glass apps.
In October, for example, British auto manufacturer Jaguar rolled out its British Intelligence marketing campaign, which includes an augmented reality experience with Blippar, an app available on Google Glass. The integration will allow users to “blip” print advertisements in Conde Nast publications by looking at them through Google Glass to activate additional digital content.
Starwood Hotels, too, has a Google Glass app in beta, the SPG for Glass app, which it says allows Google Glass wearers to search hotels by voice or GPS, call and book any hotel, view upcoming stay details, and access account information and turn-by-turn directions.
According to the Starwood website, the app is in beta and “will be updated based on member feedback and new functionality added to Glass.”
In June 2013, digital promotion company Coupons.com announced KitchMe for Glass, a recipe and meal preparation app for Google Glass.
According to a blog post, KitchMe for Glass features include recipe search by voice, ingredient lists and step-by-step recipe directions that can be read out loud. It is tied to Coupons.com’s KitchMe.com web application, which Coupons.com describes as a “next-generation meal planning and savings web application” that “uniquely combines recipes, meal planning, savings and shopping-list capabilities.”
The post says additional features like the ability to take photos of meals and share them with friends were in development and future features could also include the ability to use voice recognition to navigate the app “so that getting cooking information hands-free could become a reality.”
However, in a recent email, a Coupons.com rep says there are no new updates planned for the Google Glass app.
And, in August 2013, Fidelity Labs, which says it develops “innovative ideas and products” for a variety of affiliated Fidelity Investment companies, said it was participating in a Google early developer program and was working with a prototype of Google Glass to “better understand the technology and how it may benefit our customers.”
As such, it produced a video showing “a day in the life of a Fidelity customer using Google Glass” and invited customers to sign up for its “first experiment with Google Glass,” which would allow users to receive, at market close, quotes from the major indexes.
But despite these efforts, Google Glass’ future remains uncertain. Some say it is dead. Others are a bit more optimistic/diplomatic.
“I think it’s always been the case that Google Glass is a long-term technology play,” said Joe Laszlo, senior director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB. “I think we’re still at the early days of all wearables – look at the excitement of Apple Watch and other smartwatches and fitness devices. There’s not a lot of adoption yet and that may be what you’re seeing around Google Glass in part. People who are really early to embrace it and develop apps for it are maybe starting to rethink that. But I think anybody who has a realistic timeframe for pace, I don’t think anybody in that camp would have written it off. They just realize it’s a longtime effort.”
In other words, Google Glass isn’t dead – it’s just slow.
“I think it’s interesting – the other thing you don’t see so much now is negative articles and blog posts about people with Google Glass being obnoxious and such, which is a sign we’re kind of past the early gut reaction stage, but not to mass adoption stage yet. We’re at an interim point,” Laszlo said. “With most new technology, things get quiet for a while. True believers continue to be true believers, but it will take another year to two years before there’s a decisive kind of market decision about what Google Glass’ future looks like.”
For his part, Ben Reubenstein, president of creative agency Possible Mobile, agrees Google Glass is still a “niche experiment from Google.”
But, per Reubenstein, brands can still use Google Glass as a “R&D playground” as they “[think] about how heads up displays will become more commonplace in the future.”
In addition, like the brands that were early to roll out Google Glass apps, Reubenstein notes, “Innovative ideas now will show technological leadership and offer brands another way to connect with consumers through demonstrations.”