As previously rumored, Google has discontinued selling Google Glass, its augmented-reality headset.
The company put a positive spin on its decision: “Glass was in its infancy, and you took those very first steps and taught us how to walk,” reads a posting on the Google+ page for Glass. “Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.” Formerly a project of the Google X research lab, Glass will now be overseen by Tony Fadell, the CEO of Google subsidiary (and Internet of Things darling) Nest.
Some recent Glass purchasers are less than amused by this turn of events. “It’s not that Glass is being retired that’s the problem here—it was going to happen eventually, after all—it’s the odd handling of this fateful announcement,” wrote Digital Trends’ Andy Boxall, who purchased a Glass headset less than a month ago. “I’m left feeling it was all a big waste of time, effort, and money.”
If Google’s move indeed represents a quiet period before a relaunch, rather than an outright killing of the product, what can it do to ensure that Glass’s second iteration proves more of a success?
It Could Cost Less: Glass retailed for $1,500. That won’t work in the broader marketplace. Making the device competitive with a smartwatch or (subsidized) smartphone could go a long way toward perking up its consumer adoption.
Explain Why It’s Necessary: From its debut, Glass was very much a device in search of a use. Sure, the headset could do a lot of things—snap photos, answer messages, give directions—but it didn’t seem to fulfill any widespread need not already met by smartphones. If Google’s going to take another run at the wearable-electronics market, it needs to clearly define why your average consumer is going to plunk down cash for it.
Forget Fashion; It’s All About Work (and Play): Throughout 2014, Google tried positioning Glass as a fashionable accessory. The company might have had better luck emphasizing the device’s utility to business; enterprise sales had reportedly been encouraging. There’s also the potential for the next generation of Glass to take a portion of the GoPro audience, provided the hardware is robust enough to handle the needs of adventurers and athletes.
Get App Developers Onboard: Third-party developers reportedly weren’t very happy with Glass, with some halting app development for the device. If Google wants a new Glass to succeed, it’ll need to encourage developers to build a robust ecosystem of apps.
But all those changes, of course, hinge on Google actually releasing a new-and-hopefully-improved Glass at some point.
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