In 2012, Google unveiled a teaser video for what would eventually become Google Glass. About two and a half minutes long, the short walkthrough highlighted a day in the life of a “Project Glass” owner. Aside from working the internet into a nerd-fueled frenzy video, the confirmed popular rumors that Google’s super secret X lab was laboring away on a new piece of wearable technology.
About a year after its initial concept video, Google opened its doors to the world offering Glass hopefuls a chance to get their hands on the futuristic wearable by joining the company’s explorer program. If accepted, applicants would have to travel on their own dime to one of Google’s locations to pick up a pre-consumer test build of Glass for a premium of $1,500.
Now this might sound expensive for what was pretty much a prototype, but people bought into the idea in droves and Glass’ explorer program had a huge response.
Now here we are, another year later and Glass still isn’t available to the public, but Google has managed to get people talking about its high-tech eyewear by seeding it to influential individuals like athletes, entertainers and municipalities. All great in theory, but what about the general public?
Although Glass seems like it could be the next big thing in the tech world, it still doesn’t feel like something an average Joe would have a need for. To support this opinion, I’ve highlighted a few points expressing why I believe that Glass misses the mark in its current state.
With the exception of one special event, Google hasn’t made Glass available to the masses. But even when the company did, the wearable still carried a hefty $1,500 price tag. Consumers are just starting to wrap their heads around the idea of paying $300 – $400 for a new smartphone. In order for Glass’ reach to stretch beyond hardcore tech enthusiasts, Google will need to get its price point down to something more competitive. Perhaps the company can offer different models like it does with its Nexus phones and tablets, but Glass will need at least a sub-$500 price tag before casual users start to consider giving it a try.
At Glass’ current price point, you could buy an Xbox One, PS4, and a 32GB Nexus 5 and still have cash leftover. If these items aren’t on your personal wish list, you could also buy a souped-up MacBook Air or a big-screen TV for under $1,500 as well.
While I could go on and on with other alternative purchase ideas, my point is that Glass is expensive and it will need a serious price cut to be accepted by casual users. Another possible alternative for Google’s fancy eyewear would be a subsidized offering from wireless carriers. People many not be too fond of signing a long-term contract with expensive service fees, but this type of setup still gives more people a shot a making a purchase.
Android’s thriving community of developers has spent several years building applications for smartphones and tablets. Wearable tech is still an emerging field and quality apps are far and few between. Sure, Glass has some nifty software available but take away its cool factor and you’ll notice that comparable smartphone applications often offer a better user experience.
Google Play has over 1 million apps available for smartphones and tablets, but of course this didn’t happen overnight. If developers keep embracing Glass, its software catalog will eventually grow, but as of now the platform is sorely lacking.
Until Google can produce a unique software suite for Glass that genuinely improves a person’s quality of life like a smartphone does, the company may want to hold off on an open product release. If Glass were made available to the public in its present state, consumers looking for instant gratification would most likely be disappointed once the gadget’s initial excitement wears off.
A great number of people have a fear of being spied on and the recent NSA scandal has only added to these concerns. In its limited availability, Glass has already raised several security concerns and some early adopters of the wearable have been harassed and even attacked by people who were afraid that they were secretly being recorded.
Google has made efforts to kill some of the myths about its new wearable, however Mountain View will need to step its game up and invest some big bucks in calming the masses before opening Glass to the public.
I’m talking about television ads, live public demonstrations, maybe even a world tour. Google needs to do whatever it can to educate the masses on how Glass really works and how it will be able to benefit mankind. Most importantly, the company will need to provide the public with a clear explanation of what it will do to safeguard people’s information. That last statement applies to both Glass users and public spectators.
Glass is a very promising piece of tech, but that’s not enough. It’s cool, futuristic and a nice demonstration of what can be done with wearable computers. However, before Google can extend Glass’ reach beyond tech enthusiasts and power users, the company will have to make these much needed concessions if it’s actually serious about making its next-gen monocle a real consumer product.