So Google has admitted defeat and is pulling the Google Glass Explorer Program with pretty much immediate effect. January 19 will be the last day to get the Glass Explorer Edition. In a statement, a Google Glass spokesperson said that "we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run" and continued hyping it up with "interest in wearables has exploded and today it’s one of the most exciting areas in technology" until almost reaching a climax by stating "we’re seeing incredible developments with Glass in the workplace" before finally dropping the closing it down bomb.
Actually, it doesn't look like the end of Google Glass altogether, just the end of Google Glass in the current format. Google says it will now have a dedicated team as part of Google itself rather than being a lab project, and that it will continue to "build for the future" with future versions of Glass being developed.
I'm sure the merry few who invested, and invested pretty heavily, in Google Glass will be thrilled to see that investment reduced to owning a failed tech; and let's be honest, that's precisely what Google Glass was and is. Even more than the smartwatch, smart glasses are a big ask of anyone other than certified nerds to get excited about. Sales kind of reflected that, along with rather a lot of well deserved negative press.
So what went wrong and why won't I miss this particular piece of technology? How long have you got? Seriously. The reasons for the failure of Google Glass is as long as it is depressingly predictable. There were the concerns over privacy (at least you know if someone is filming you with a smartphone and can ask them to desist before things get physical, who knows what's going on behind the weirdo specs?) which saw assorted bars and restaurants ban the wearing of the device. There was the cost ($1500 in the US, just shy of £1000 in the UK) which was never going to work at that level - the things were not branded as Apple iGlasses after all. From speaking to people who have bought a pair and tried them out, the battery life kind of sucked elephants through a straw if you tried to actually do anything much with them. And talking of doing things, well most of those things you could already do with the much more acceptable and far cheaper smartphone that you already own. This is the same stumbling block that smartwatches are facing; who needs an expensive solution looking for a problem?
The thing, for me, that really killed off Google Glass was the most obvious. It was right there in front of your eyes, quite literally. People wearing Google Glass look stupid, and act stupidly. Don't believe me, read this real world account of a lunchtime ruined by the things last year over at PC Pro magazine.
I don't think that tabloid journalism helped Google Glass, with some really stupid reporting such as claims that it impaired vision when that claim was based on a study with a sample size of three or rent-a-psychologists being lined up to give warnings about Google Glass Addiction Syndrome. Perhaps the media was unfair when it came to this vision of the future, but to be honest I cannot see how it would have succeeded even if the press had been hugely positive. I'm a proud geek, and I wouldn't wear them...