Google Glass is an attempt to bring smart eyewear to the masses.
Google is aiming for an early to mid-2014 debut of the gadget to the general public, and has already released a Glass Development Kit or GDK to app developers. Despite the clunkiness and awkwardness of the early beta version of Glass, we think computerized glasses will establish themselves in certain professional niches and gradually become a mainstream product. Early adopters will use them for medical training, scientific exploration, and photography. They in turn will popularise Glass and other smart eyewear among wider populations still unsure about the appeal.
We at BI Intelligence expect unit sales of Glass to climb sharply in the years after its official launch, to 21 million units in annual sales by year-end 2018. At $US500 per unit, this equates to a $10.5 billion annual market opportunity. We believe this to be the most likely size, but we provide high-, mid- and low-range sales estimates that could result based on a number of factors.
How did we get to these estimates? In a new report on Google Glass from BI Intelligence, we explain the model and methodology behind the forecasts in detail, and analyse each of the key strategic components — price, developer interest, and cultural barriers — that have a significant impact on the market for Google Glass. The report is accompanied by a slide deck and is full of charts and data sets that can be downloaded and put to use.
Here’s a brief overview of key factors that will determine the market for Google Glass:
- Price: The rate at which the average retail price declines over the next five years will be the biggest factor determining how quickly the general public adopts the device. We think Google will radically cut the price of Glass, from $US1,500 today to the $US600 range in two years, and then lower. In our model, price was the most important factor driving Glass’s sales growth. In the scenario in which Google Glass prices came down quickly, sales nosed up at a faster rate. When Glass’s price remained high, sales grew at a more moderate pace.
- Developer Interest: Google’s Mirror API has encouraged developers to write apps specifically for the device, even before its general release. If Glass sees a hit app that generates enthusiasm on the level of an Instagram or an Angry Birds, that will go a long way to making it an accepted and desired device with consumers. Right now, there is at least one big question mark hanging over Glass as a development platform: monetization. Google has made clear that it will not yet allow developers to charge for apps or leverage any advertising dollars. However, once advertisers are able to create experiences designed for Google Glass, there will be a new world of creative opportunities.
- Cultural Barriers: Glass is far more conspicuous and obtrusive than any of its wearable computing counterparts. Google understands that social acceptance of Glass is dependent on whether people want to actually be seen wearing it in public. In the end, consumers will probably get past the look of the device, especially if the design improves. Google will also have to resolve issues regarding privacy and safety. These barriers will hold Glass back from truly explosive growth in the foreseeable future, but Google will gradually sort out the barriers to social acceptance.
- Offers sales estimates (high, mid, and low ranges) for Google Glass
- Explains the model and methodology behind the forecast in detail
- Analyses key strategic components — including price, developer interest, and cultural barriers — that will have a significant impact on the market for Google Glass