Philip Ellison 21 January, 2015
And so we bid farewell to Google Glass, for now at least. As of Monday, Google is suspending its Explorer programme, and Glass will no longer be available to purchase. While there is no doubt that we will see a new (and hopefully very different) incarnation of Glass in the future, commentators were only too happy to grasp this final opportunity to lampoon the gadget and those who wear it. It’s a sad and altogether apt fate for a device which, despite being one of the most talked about innovations of recent years, was never quite cool enough to justify its $1,500 price tag.
Anyone who made the impulse decision to buy Glass on Monday while they still had the chance needn’t worry; no new fixes or software updates will be forthcoming, but Glass will continue to work, with over 40 compatible apps available. Google encourages developers who were working on Glass apps to continue to do so.
Even critics would be hard-pushed to call this a defeat on Google’s part; the Explorer programme yielded a wealth of feedback which we can expect to see put into action in the next generation device. Glass is in capable hands under the leadership of Tony Fadell, formerly of Apple and Nest. And if the first version was simply a prototype, and the Explorer community its focus group, then the next iteration of Glass will be much more consumer-ready, in terms of appearance, functionality, choice of apps, and most importantly of all, cost.
“If the company truly does see itself on the path to mainstream adoption, it needs to offer a product that isn’t three times the price of a premium unlocked smartphone,” says Brian Heater, who also mentions other obstacles which Fadell and his team will need to address, such as “the inherent privacy concerns with a device like Glass.”
It is unknown how long we will have to wait to see what form the next Glass takes. Generally speaking, the wearables market is still looking wrist-first, but that could all change if consumers are offered stylish headwear that won’t get them punched in the face.