When it comes to beta testing a new piece of technology, there seems to be a divide in tech companies on who to go to first in testing out the features. That divide seems to be one some people frown upon: Letting well-known names be the first to have dibs on a highly anticipated product. Such is the case now with rumors of Kobe Bryant testing out Apple’s anxiously awaited iWatch for its role in helping track our physical fitness and health. It seems to give an instant idea of what Apple prefers in beta testing their products over Google who seems geared more toward choosing select members of the general public for testing.
Which route gives the best results when beta testing a new piece of technology? Do celebrities give honest opinions about these products after perhaps being paid to test them? Or is the general public the better candidates, even if they may be blinded by the wow factor rather than reality?
Celebrities Testing New Technology
As if celebs don’t already create enough envy in those hungry for fame, having them be the first to test some of the latest technology may be more of a paid endeavor as a way toward early promotion. While Kobe Bryant testing the iWatch is only rumor now, you can be sure Apple will want to use him and other athletes to promote the benefits of tracking our health. It’s there where Apple appears to want to focus their main marketing on the iWatch above all the other likely capabilities. Having Apple write you a check, though, might make you convinced that the product has no flaws when it perhaps does.
Google Glass, for instance, has had many flaws, even if few celebrities have come forward on promoting Google Glass. Had Google paid a celebrity to tout Google Glass, the sales might have been through the roof, despite many of the technical issues that need some tweaking. The same might apply to iWatch once Kobe Bryant and other big names show up in compelling TV commercials (possibly before fall).
But Apple has a fairly good track record of their products working mostly flawlessly once they hit the market. Regardless, most of that track record was during the Steve Jobs era, and you have to wonder if an all-new and ambitious product is going to have just as many technical hiccups as Google Glass has.
Is it easy to overlook technical issues when you’re blindsided by something technologically cool and seemingly innovative? Apple may realize this in the general public, hence why they aren’t choosing average people to test the iWatch right now. Google, conversely, seems to believe in certain committed people being the only ones who can sell others on what their products can do.
Using the People to Pitch New Technology
When Google set up the term “Google Explorer” for select people to beta test Google Glass, it brought a new wave of public excitement in being a part of something that could shift technological paradigms. Starting off well, it’s since devolved into those Explorers being attacked by anti-Google adherents and those concerned about lack of privacy through similar technology. At the same time, a few notable people who tested Google Glass have noted through social media how flawed many of the features were.
It appears that everyone seems to have a different experience depending on their own model and the situations they’re in. Possibly, however, many of the Explorers were just too wowed by the overall concept to have any subjective opinion about how Google Glass can be applied in real life. It had to take notable people and critics to finally call out many of the obvious problems that Explorers may have been blinded to because they were in a select testing club.
How will technology ever have truly subjective testing when money, prestige and the wow factor sometimes overlook flaws? Even if it’s not proven celebrities get paid to test new products, letting them volunteer to test and asking for honesty would probably help places like Apple scope out problems early rather than letting flaws go to market and then fixing them later. And the public should never be paid, or the bias would be even worse. Eventually, beta testing amazing new technology may become so routine that we’ll finally be in tune to more focused testing.
The worst of it is when tech companies don’t listen to any subjective advice and release a product early with a thousand flaws just to satisfy public demand. It was probably one of the reasons why Google Glass released early without fixing issues first. Apple’s iWatch will have even more of a demand tidal wave, hence probably bringing more than a few incidents of iWatch freezes when we use one while out for a jog.