Google wowed everyone with Glass when it first demoed the smartglasses back in 2012. Since then, the futuristic mobile computing glasses have raised the ire of bar patrons, restaurant owners, and non techies alike who see Glass as a major invasion of privacy. Google Glass was only available in limited numbers to select, hand picked participants in its Explorer Program who were willing to pay $1,500 for the honor of wearing Glass.
Updated on 01-15-2015 by Malarie Gokey: Added Google’s statement on the discontinuation of Glass Explorer Edition.
And now, that program is dead. A Wall Street Journal report states that Google will continue to sell the first version of Glass through its Explorer program until January 19, at which point, Glass will disappear from the store entirely. Only developers and businesses will be able to get their hands on Glass. In other words, Glass is going enterprise and leaving consumers behind — at least for now.
Google posted an explanation on Google+ and hinted at Glass’ future. “As part of this transition, we’re closing the Explorer Program so we can focus on what’s coming next,” Google wrote, adding, “In the meantime, we’re continuing to build for the future, and you’ll start to see future versions of Glass when they’re ready (For now, no peeking).”
Google plans to offer a new version of Glass in 2015, but it has yet to announce a release date or even a roadmap for the new Glass. Google may be clearing out inventory ahead of the next-generation Glass launch. The company is known for quick, surprising product launches. This year’s Lollipop 5.0, Nexus 6, and Nexus 9 launches for example, were a total surprise. Also, former Apple executive and Nest leader Tony Fadell will join the Google X team that is working on Glass, so it’s clear the project is just getting started, it seems.
Meanwhile, others speculate that the company may not offer the next generation of Glass to consumers either. It seems that Google may prefer to test Glass out in private, away from the prying — and judgemental eyes of the public — before it introduces a polished version for consumers.
Although Glass’ fate is uncertain at this point, the growing trend toward smartglasses and wearables indicates that Google’s smart eyewear could have a bright future — if they get it right.