Public Sales Of Google Glass To End Later This Month
Google Glass Phase 1 is officially over. The Google Glass team posted a statement with the news to Google+ today.
But the announcement says that Glass is not dead, it's just going through a "transition," and that the Google Glass team is "continuing to build for the future." The first, "Explorer," version of Glass was, according to the team, an "open beta" version, or basically a big, public test of the new product. The team didn't give a timeline for future versions.
The statement also outlined an internal shift for Glass. The department will move out of Google[x] labs.
"As we look to the road ahead, we realize that we've outgrown the lab and so we're officially 'graduating' from Google[x] to be our own team here at Google. We're thrilled to be moving even more from concept to reality," the statement said.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the announcement marks a strategic shift for Google.
The changes usher in a new strategy for Glass that will shun large, public tests of prototypes in favor of the approach used by Apple and Nest, which develop consumer gadgets in secret and release them as fully finished products...
The more secretive approach differs from Google's usual pattern. As a mainly software company, Google likes to release early versions of its products to a test group, collect their feedback and then quickly update to fix problems. That is how it rolled out Gmail in 2004.
But that launch-and-iterate approach backfired with Glass, one of the few consumer-hardware devices the company designed and built in-house. The gadget proved more difficult to update than software code running a service like Gmail.
Forrester Research's JP Gownder spoke with NPR about the Google Glass announcement and says that a big part of Google Glass' problems was in the way the product was rolled out.
"It's really important to remember, Google Glass was never released as a proper product," Gownder said. "It's been in beta for over two years. The Glass Explorer program was designed to be an open community of people who would contribute ideas and that sort of thing. For the mass market, Google Glass has never had a proper release."
And Gownder says that meant Google had little power in shaping the public image of the product. "You can't just throw some new radical technology out there without marketing and articulating a vision, or else people will make their own conclusions about it," said Gownder. "And that's led to the privacy situation they [Google] face today."
Gownder also said there's another part of the beta rollout didn't work for Google Glass: its relationship with developers.
"The thinking was that they'd generate a community of developers to develop applications for Glass," Gownder said. But the high price point of Glass kept the market too small. "The problem is when you don't have a mass market product, you don't have a lot of people using the product, you're not gonna attract consumer developers. If there are no consumers using the product, why would developers stay with it."
Gownder says he's sure that Glass is not dead, and that for all the problems with its public rollout, its enterprise arm with private companies and developers, seems to be going much better. Gownder did say Google will ultimately have to find away to handle all the privacy concerns facing Glass.
A recent survey from Forrester research found that 50 percent of online U.S. adults say Google Glass gives them privacy concerns, even though most Americans haven't even seen the product.
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