Although reports of its demise may have been greatly exaggerated, the development of Google Glass is definitely on hold.
On January 15, Google announced that its Glass Explorer program, where developers and well-heeled members of the public tested Google Glass in exchange for a $1500 deposit, was being axed.
The announcement led to many reports either celebrating or commiserating the death of the smart headset but, according to Google CFO Patrick Pichette, the device is simply on hold.
Speaking during Google’s quarterly earnings call on Thursday, Pichette said that the headset still has a lot of promise but that hurdles need to be overcome. Therefore the team is taking a pause to reconsider strategy. “In those cases where a project doesn’t have the impact we hoped for, we do take the tough calls,” he said.
One of the biggest issues, for Google Glass detractors, anyway, was that the device made its wearers look quite foolish, and the company is clearly working on this aspect of the smart headset. When Google announced that the Explore Program was being shuttered, it also confirmed that Glass was moving from the X Labs department and was going to be overseen by Tony Fadell. As the co-founder of Nest and one of the driving forces behind the look and feel of both the iPod and the first generation iPhone, Fadell is someone who knows a thing or two about making a device usable and desirable in equal measure.
And of course there are also the partnerships that Google has entered into with other companies, most notably Luxottica, the business behind Ray-Ban and Oakley sunglasses, in order to integrate its connected headset technology with stylish headwear.
On Wednesday ABI Research published new data that forecasts a 150% increase in smart glasses shipments over the course of 2015 but suggests that the demand would be driven by businesses and not consumers. Although consumer reaction to smart headsets has been polarizing, the enterprise reaction has been hugely positive and a host of excellent business applications have already been developed for smart glasses in general and Google Glass in particular.