A glass from the past… returns to the dustbin of history. Google said it would stop selling its Glass Enterprise smart glasses. The $1K camera-equipped lab-goggle-looking wearables were marketed for industrial use (picture: warehouse workers scanning crates with their faces) and were an evolution of 2013's much-hyped Google Glass. Google stopped selling the first (consumer-focused) version of Glass two years after its debut after it elicited immediate pushback — both on privacy and style grounds.
Google pass: Glass was called antisocial and "too dorky to succeed" by the tech-forward Wired magazine.
Ogle glass: Concerns that Glass would be used surreptitiously to record patrons led several bars to ban the devices.
Face computers lose face… Google isn't the only biz to struggle with making smart glasses shine. In 2016 Snap released $130 video-recording Spectacles, but apparently overestimated demand to the tune of $40M in losses. In 2021, Meta launched its $300 Ray-Ban Stories for video recording and sharing, but despite the fashion-forward frame, they seem to have failed to catch on. Apple, one biz that could allay style and privacy objections, keeps delaying its rumored Apple Glasses. Meanwhile, VR headset sales fell last year, and Meta slashed the price of its Quest Pro just months after launch.
The higher the bar, the higher the value prop… and smart glasses have a high barrier to adoption without a high value prop. Getting a pricey tech product on a customer's face — vs. tucked inside a pocket — is a big ask. Unless wearable makers can demonstrate a compelling practical benefit, smart glasses might forever stay in their cases.