End of the road. Business successor to Google Glass known as Glass Enterprise, is to halt enterprise sales and stop software support
Alphabet’s first augmented reality device, that some believe was too advanced for its time, is to be finally axed altogether.
Alphabet’s Google division announced the decision about its smart glasses (known as Google Glass), in a terse statement on its website.
“Thank you for over a decade of innovation and partnership,” Google said. “As of March 15, 2023, we will no longer sell Glass Enterprise Edition. We will continue supporting Glass Enterprise Edition until September 15, 2023.”
The terse statement perhaps belies the impact of Google Glass, which was perhaps one of the first truly wearable devices (being over a decade old) and is still one of the widely recognised.
In early 2012 Google co-founder Sergey Brin was spotted in San Francisco sporting the Google Glass, which were augmented reality glasses that provided users with an in-your-face heads up display (HUD) offering information about the weather, messages from friends, or directions around town.
Google Glass was first sold to developers and early adopters in 2013 for $1,500 and it also featured a front-facing camera.
Matters were not helped by its high purchase price (it cost £1,000 in the UK in 2014).
Google then took the decision in 2015, after lacklustre reception to the comical appearance of the wearable device, coupled with the privacy issues, to halt production of its smart glasses for the consumer sector.
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However Google did continue selling it for enterprise and business use, with Glass Enterprise being the successor to Google Glass.
Google released a new $999 Google’s Glass Enterprise Edition 2 of the wearable in May 2019.
Google’s retreat comes despite rivals such as Meta and Apple investing heavily into augmented reality and virtual reality technology.
Meta for example released Ray-Ban smartglasses with cameras in September 2021 but unlikely Google Glass it does not feature a display. That said, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has spoken publicly about a Google Glass-like final form factor for the wearable.
Microsoft has had its own augmented reality glasses for businesses, HoloLens, since 2015, but the company recently laid off portions of the team working on it, and the device’s creator, Alex Kipman, left the company in 2022 under something of a cloud.
However Google may not be exiting the market altogether, as previously thought.
Last July, Google previewed a different pair of smartglasses that could translate and transcribe speech in real-time, and it said it would continue to test augmented reality glasses prototypes in public.