Google's new Glass boss, Ivy Ross, begins job by asking existential questions
Sure, it’s notable that Google’s new “head of Glass,” Ivy Ross, has a deep background in retail product marketing and brand ID. She’s racked up stints at Coach, Calvin Klein, Swatch and Bausch & Lomb—four companies that make world-renowned, squarely mainstream products that you wear on your body.
Google needs to validate Glass as a tenable lifestyle accessory for normal folks, and it seems Ross has ideal product development experience to supercharge that effort.
But her resume isn’t the most interesting reveal in Day One of Ross’ appointment. I’ll direct you instead to Ross’ first public address to Glass Explorers, posted Thursday night on the Glass Google+ page:
With your help, I look forward to answering the seemingly simple, but truly audacious questions Glass poses: Can technology be something that frees us up and keeps us in the moment, rather than taking us out of it? Can it help us look up and out at the world around us, and the people who share it with us? I have spent my career... trying to answer questions like this in different ways, for different products. But Glass is especially cool, as no one has really tried to answer them with a product like this before. That’s our job, Explorers!
While we can applaud Ross for not dipping into the meaningless, “I’m just happy to be here” drivel that you hear from most executives in their acceptance speeches, I have to call attention to how she positions Glass as almost more of a theoretical construct, an intellectual proposition, than a $1500 beta product that comes in a box, and people actually use.
Glass isn’t a mobile device; it’s an ethereal agent of possibility. Glass isn’t a concrete, physical wearable with specs and UI; it’s a fluid definition. We don’t know what Glass is—so help us figure that out.
Now, this has always been the Google story line, and it’s safe positioning for a wearable that’s still looking for rewarding, reliable consumer use cases. Google has never claimed Glass is a finished product, so Ross’ existential inquiries are entirely consistent with Glass messaging.
But she’s a product guru, not a philosopher, and definitely not a technologist. We must presume Ross was hired to steer Glass from its current position as a novel development kit for Android geeks to a lifestyle accessory as mainstream as a Coach handbag or Swatch watch.
Glass is apparently going on sale in its final consumer retail form this year. Google hasn’t said otherwise. So sometime between now and December 31, Ross will need to stop asking questions, and begin delivering answers.