A consumer launch for Google Glass doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon, with Google saying it’s in no rush to release a finished product.
“We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it’s absolutely ready,” Chris O’Neill, Google’s head of business operations for Glass, told Reuters. An unnamed source said that 2015 is the “most likely” time frame, but didn’t get any more specific. Google co-founder Sergey Brin previously said he was hoping for a launch this year.
The new comments were part of a larger Reuters story on the problems Google is facing with Glass. While Google has positioned the $1,500 Glass Explorer Edition as a taste of the future, the report cites users who have grown tired of their high-tech glasses, and notes that used Glass Explorer sets are selling on eBay for much less than the sticker price.
Meanwhile, several high-profile Glass executives have left Google this year, and some developers say the market is too small to justify continued app support. In one example, a firm working on a fitness app for Glass said it lost a venture funding offer earlier this year, as a consumer version of Glass failed to materialize. The company, See Though, has since pivoted to focus on Glass analytics for businesses. (A follow-up piece in the Wall Street Journal cites even more developers who’ve abandoned their Glass apps, including Path and Thuuz.)
For now, Google is pitching Glass Explorer sets as an enterprise tool for customer service, medical fields and other industries, and is even selling Explorer units to some businesses at a two-for-one discount. For consumers, the wearable focus is firmly on Android Wear.
Why this matters: Google says it still has hundreds of people working on Glass, including former Calvin Klein executive Ivy Ross, and is “energized” about the product. Still, it’s clear that the plan to develop Glass out in the open has backfired. The device’s geeky appearance, and the privacy concerns raised by its built-in camera, have created a stigma about Glass users that will be difficult for Google to erase. At this point, pushing out a consumer version would only do more damage to the entire concept.