Google is ending or suspending sales of Google Glass, its smart glasses product, according to the BBC and the Financial Times. Glass was praised for being an innovative new device with a range of uses — particularly as an enterprise product for businesses — but criticised for its high price (about £1000 or $US1500) and the way it made users look silly.
Former Nest CEO and Apple product creator Tony Fadell has been placed in charge of the Glass team to see if the product can be reborn in a new format. Ivy Ross, the current head of Glass, will report to Fadell. The BBC says Fadell’s new team “will focus on ‘future versions of Glass’ with work carried out by a different division to before.” Previously, Glass was inside Google’s experimental Google X division. Glass will continue to be supported as an enterprise product.
There are a couple of ways to see this move: First, most obviously, is that it feels negative when a big company retracts from consumers one of its most famous products. Business Insider believes only tens of thousands of the spectacles were sold. Many people — most famously tech blogger Robert Scoble — expressed huge reservations about the vilability of the product with consumers.
But moving Glass out of Google X and into a regular product development division under Fadell suggests that Google is committed to developing a proper version of Glass that will be popular with consumers. Glass has only been sold so far as a prototype under Google’s “Glass Explorer” program. Having received a ton of feedback, Google now knows what it needs to do in order to improve the product (and make it acceptable to wear in public). You can see Fadell’s take here.
Google’s web site for booking appointments at the Google Glass store in London has already become nonfunctional. We understand the store closed down a couple of months ago.
Try to book a visit there and you get this error message:
Last year, Business Insider visited the shop in King’s Cross, one of only four places in the world where you could buy Google Glass (the others were Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City). Here is what we saw on our visit.
To get to the store, you walk through this lighted tunnel out of the King's Cross tube station. It changes colours. It's very cool.
Here's the store -- the Google logo is nowhere to be seen. It's near the University of the Arts Central St. Martins, a very trendy district.
The shop is a stylish 'raw' space, where you can see the vents hanging from the ceiling. The staff members were all wearing Glass.
Google is selling different sets of frames for Glass, from designers like Ray-Ban and Diane von Furstenberg.
Mostly, Google is positioning its stores as a shopping/fashion experience rather than as a tech experience.
Glass costs £1,000, and the battery lasts about a day, or one hour under heavy use (like recording video or taking turn-by-turn directions).
This was amazing: A translation app in Glass magically changes foreign words to English, and vice versa, as you look at them, superimposing the translation on top of the sign you're looking at. Truly impressive.
One problem: If you already wear glasses, you'll need to get prescription Google Glass. I had to try them on over my regular glasses -- not a good look!
This is what they look like on someone more stylish than me. (Notice the security guard near the door who prevents too many people without appointments from coming into the store!)
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