By The Numbers

The guy who tried to sell his Google Glass? He just wanted to pay his student loans

Marketplace Contributor Apr 18, 2013

The man who tried to sell his coveted Google Glass on eBay, to the dismay of fellow devotees, says he figured he had the right to do it. 

The seller, who goes by raenblow on the Internet auction site and by Ed in real life, took the listing down this week after bidders offered more than $95,000 for a device he didn’t even own yet. 

Ed, 26, wouldn’t give his last name because he’s “sick of being harassed by Google enthusiasts.” 

He says he didn’t think the $95,000 bid was real, but he wanted to sell his glasses to pay off student loans. 

Google Glass is an Internet-ready gadget that a select group of users will wear like a pair of glasses. A few early adopters have already picked up their glasses from Google headquarters, and a few thousand more will receive a pair later this spring. 

Ed says he was part of a group that won the #IfIHadGlass Twitter competition. Google asked candidates to tweet innovative ideas for ways to use the technology. The winners, who the company calls Explorers, still have to pay $1,500 for the right to be an early user. 

Ed says he pitched the idea of sending photos to his marketing clients while working from the road.

“I assumed that if I pay $1,500 and they give me something, it would be mine to do whatever I wanted with. Apparently that is not the case,” he says.  

Apparently not. 

Google would not comment for this story, but the company confirmed that the terms of service for the Explorers prohibit reselling, loaning or transferring the glasses to another person. The company can deactivate a device if someone else uses it.

Ed says he did not know about the rules because he hadn’t yet picked up his glasses or paid for them. When he learned of the rules he says, “I took down the auction voluntarily.”

The auction prompted a wave of disgust from other Explorers who felt the attempted sale violated the spirit of Google’s competition.

Kevin Dietze, a student at Georgia Institute of Technology, posted a link to the auction on a chat group for Glass Explorers. He says this wasn’t the first time he’d seen a Google Glass for sale. He purposefully wanted to sabotage this one by getting people to artificially inflate the price.

“The reason why I posted it in the first place was to prevent the auction from completing,” Dietz says. “The whole idea of being a part of the Explorer program is not about getting Google Glass or turning a profit. It’s about being on the cutting edge and this person clearly doesn’t care about that.”

Another Glass enthusiast, Jim McNelis of San Francisco, says he was bothered by “someone who thinks they should make over a year’s salary because they were picked in a competition on Twitter.”

McNelis was among a smaller group chosen last year to receive the new product. He says he picked up his Google Glass at the company’s headquarters Tuesday. McNelis put the device on his face and used it to do an interview through his cell phone with Marketplace.

He explained the experience this way: “Visually, I am looking in the lens and I can see the call has been going on for 46 seconds.” 

It’s this type of technology that Google has a real interest in protecting, says Angela McIntyre with the tech research firm Gartner. Especially so early in the test phase, she says competitors would be willing to pay a lot of money to take a peek at the technology inside.

“There’s a lot of hype around Google Glass and many people would love to get their hands on one,” she says. “Even if it’s deactivated once you resell it.”

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