Earlier this month, Google announced that it will be closing its Glass Explorer program. According to Time, the company will also be halting the sale of Google glasses to the public. Although the closing of the program does not mean the end of Google Glass. On the contrary, it means a new beginning for Glass.
This change in strategy is not surprising. Despite the initial popularity of the device, the product has hit quite a few snags since its release. Its Explorer program was great in theory. Techies were given the opportunity to apply for entry and essentially become beta testers of the new technology. As TechCrunch points out, however, the price incurred participating in the program as well as the actual price of the product, a steep $1500, acted as a huge deterrent.
In addition to the price, the actual hardware seemed to be one of the biggest obstacles the tech giant faced in marketing to consumers.
“I can’t believe they think anyone (normal) will ever wear these things,” Phil Schiller, marketing chief at Apple, jokes in an email exchange printed in Business Insider.
Although the device was revolutionary in it’s own right, it was a challenge to convince the average consumer that it was cool to wear the device in their everyday life.
James Katz, Boston University’s director of emerging media studies and an early adopter of Glass shared in an article in The Atlantic that he “found that it was not very useful for very much, and it tended to disturb people around me that I have this thing.”
There was also the issue of privacy. According to CNET, people were wary of the smart device’s ability to take pictures or record video of people without them knowing. This perceived invasion of privacy led to the coining of the term “Glassholes” to describe users of the device, which, inevitably, stigmatized the product as well as its users. The device was banned from movie theaters last October by the Motion Picture Association of America.
Shutting down the current program is part of Google’s efforts to revamp Glass. It has also hired inventor, designer and founder of Nest Labs Tony Fadell to oversee the project. Fadell is also known for his role in the success of Apple’s iPod.
As a part of their new strategy, Google will be moving Glass operations out of the Google X research lab so that the project can function as its own entity. The Glass team will still be led by Google executive Ivy Ross, though Ross will now be reporting to Fadell.
Google will also continue its Glass at Work initiative which focuses on the enterprise market and with the company’s increasing emphasis in this area, Glass will most likely have a future. The larger question remains: will Fadell be able to find broader market appeal for the next iteration of Glass?
Photo Credit: Giuseppe Costantino via Flickr