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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.

The team will be overseen by Tony Fadell, who heads Nest and was in charge of producing Apple's first iPod.

"Since we first met, interest in wearables has exploded and today it's one of the most exciting areas in technology," the Glass team wrote on Google+. "We're thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality ... We're continuing to build for the future, and you'll start to see future versions of Glass when they're ready. Thanks to all of you for believing in us and making all of this possible. Hang tight -- it's going to be an exciting ride."

Since Glass has suffered from waning interest and an increasing amount of mockery, it's not surprising that Google decided to change course.

Over the past few months, rumors swirled online that Google was going to dump the entire Glass project.

Google repeatedly pushed back the Glass' release date. Initially, the company said it would release the wearable in 2013. Last summer, Google stopped giving out a release date at all.

App developers also seemed to be losing interest in creating new apps for Glass. Meanwhile, Glass was getting bad press over privacy issues, with a bar, movie theaters and a Las Vegas casino banning them from being worn inside the establishments.

The term "Glasshole" began to get a lot of play online.

This is a good time for Google to pull back Glass and rework the project, said Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst.

"The question everyone is asking is simple ... Is Google Glass ever going to be successful?" Kagan said. "Google Glass was always an interesting idea, but for some reason it just has not been catching on with the public. Google is not used to working on a product that is becoming a sour punch line. I don't think they like it. That's why this is going to have a lower profile while they try and figure out how to re-engineer and re-design."

The break also might give the marketplace a chance to catch up to the idea of people wearing computerized eyeglasses that have a head-mounted display screen.

"At this early stage I would not say Google Glass is dead," Kagan said. "Rather, think of this as a second chance -- a way to reinvent the product. If it is successful next time, everything will be good. If, however, Google Glass cannot really break through, they will pull the plug."

So what will the next version of Glass look and act like?

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said he expects the device will be better looking, cheaper and easier to use.

Moorhead expects the next version of Glass will not only be a lot smaller but will indicate when it's taking photos or recording audio and video. He also expects the wearable will have a larger image area and a better augmented reality environment.

"Sadly, I think it should have been a big hit and may still be if Google can overcome the initial Google Glass experiences," Enderle said. "Unfortunately, that is often hard to do. Folks don't like to change opinions once set."

 

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