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Google tries to reset Glass embarrassment with cooler wearable

Sharon Gaudin | Jan. 19, 2015
Company pulls Glass out of the limelight to rework it.

Google Glass

Is it too late for Google Glass to become the big hit that people are excited to be seen wearing and will use in their everyday lives, taking video of their work projects and vacation adventures?

By pulling Glass out of the limelight and rethinking how the wearable computers look and function could make the device less of a widely mocked science project and more of what it should have been -- a cool, useful new technology.

Google is also trying to move away from the embarrassment that its Glass Explorer program had become.

"With this move, Google is definitely pressing the 'reset' button,' said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "It's a good move to end the Explorer program because it had really turned into an embarrassment with overall negative sentiment. This was a stumble because Google exposed real consumers who paid a lot of money for an experiment that wasn't ready. Glass was really still in the research stage and should have stayed in the lab."

However, pulling back Glass from the public eye and retooling it could be the best thing to happen to the device.

"This whole time Glass has been housed at Google X and its move out of that blue sky group is good news for the future of Glass as a product," said Brian Blau, an analyst with market research firm Gartner. "In their announcement, Google indicated there will be future Glass products, so I take them at their word that there will indeed be future versions. Is that starting over? Possibly, but you have to think that many of the lessons learned from their experiences with the Glass Explorer program will somehow translate forward to their new efforts."

Google will likely produce a better Glass product than anything seen in the market to this point.

Google on Thursday said it would stop selling prototypes of its computerized eyeglasses on Monday, closing out its Explorer program, which opened to early adopters at the company's annual Google I/O developers conference in 2013. Users paid $1,500 for each pair of Glass and Google reportedly sold more than 10,000 pairs.

In a Google+ post, the Glass team said the company remains committed to developing the product. Glass development will be moved out from under the guidance of GoogleX, the company's secretive research lab that works sci-fi-sounding technologies, including Internet-connected balloons and self-driving cars.

Glass, like the company's ubiquitous search engine, and Android, the mobile operating system, will be its own entity within Google. The new team will be led by former fashion executive Ivy Ross, who previously worked at Calvin Klein, Gap Inc., The Disney Store and Coach.


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