Date: December 1, 2013
Author: Chris Lee
So it was a pretty busy Tuesday last week getting work finished in time for the Thanksgiving Break. As I was going through Outlook, I saw this email arrive:
And was greeted with this message:
I was starting to salivate already. Back weeks ago, I had signed up awhile back for their "Explorer Program". At the time, I was (and still am) interested in developing apps for Glass itself or perhaps bringing someone into my company that could offer that service. Either way, Google Glass is beyond cool, and of course I'm a hopeless, complete, and utter tech geek anyway.
So, I quickly, very quickly, clicked the large link/button that said:
"Click on the purchase code below to begin your adventures with Glass"
Immediately I was taken to a website and...there...it...was! One of the coolest-looking gadgets around. And I could have one. Before anyone else.
The Google Glass website allowed me to choose the color, shade and the accessories. My hands were literally shaking as I moved the mouse toward the checkboxes.
Then, I saw this:
Of course, I knew the price already---having read all about it on CNET. Regardless, I still even added it to my shopping cart and clicked 'CONTINUE'. A payment screen informed me that Glass would ship within 7 days. Finally, I'd get to own a pair of the most controversial glasses and wearable tech in history. A true prototype. I wanted to buy one so badly...I already was envisioning how I'd start using their software developer kit and help kickstart the app program.
But I didn't. I closed my browser window and canceled the purchase.
Something didn't just sit right with me.
When I was 7 years old, I remember one of the things my grandfather (who had lived through the Great Depression) always told me was that you "don't get something for nothing."
And that's the problem I have with the Google Glass Explorer Program. In fact, that's the problem I'm having with a lot of companies these days that believe they can get something (READ: your feedback) for nothing.
Basically, you spend $1500.00 + tax to test, use, examine, and, more often than not, essentially promote a beta product for Google, Inc. You hook up with their GDK and possibly even move forward into the business of creating apps for this new product of theirs. Basically, you are paying them with your money and valuable time to help them improve and refine their product. A fact: Without developers, Google Glass will be nothing more than eyeglass-shaped paperweight.
Shouldn't this be the other way around? I mean, shouldn't they be paying users and/or providing the product free in return for using, testing and feedback? Look at all the fuss this person made when he got a pair. Yes, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Make no mistake about it: customer feedback and initial testing is the most valuable commodity there is for a tech company.
But $1500.00 is a mortgage payment for many people. For me, it translates into a bunch of clothes and food for my children. Whatever your priorities are in life, it's a lot of money no matter how you look at it.
We need to reverse this trend and companies need to get back to actually remembering their customer's most valuable commodity: feedback. If you put out a new, unrefined, unfinished product to field-test it, then simply pay the people who doing the testing for you. Or, at least offer the product free or at an affordable price so you have a win-win situation at the end of the day. To be clear, I love Google and I love their products. But $1500.00? Again, offer the product free or at an affordable price so testers and product makers can both have a win-win situation at the end of the day.
But, it doesn't matter though what I think. There's a huge waiting list for the Google Glass Explorer Program and offer codes are actually being sold on eBay.
But not me.
Goodbye Google Glass. It was fun, for a few minutes.