Google is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear, those futuristic looking little wearable computers that were the embodiment of tech cool for a short period of time.
The company made the announcement yesterday, but says the move is not the end of Glass. Rather, it’s is just the end of “beta testing” for the Glass eyewear.
“It doesn’t come as a huge surprise that Google has decided to bench what they’ve been making so far, and putting the core technology into other things,” says Chris Green, a Technology Industry Analyst for the Davies Murphy Group. All along he says, Glass was just a proof of concept.
“The future of Google Glass may live somewhere else, whether it’s integrated into clothing, whether it’s integrated into a smart phone,” says Green.
While some critics say the move hurts early adopters—the people who paid the hefty $1,500 cost to purchase Glass—Google says this is just another step in the products development.
Others say going back to the drawing board might be actually be good idea.
“It was not the easiest to use, the most intuitive, or even the most useful product out there,” notes Rebecca Lieb, analyst with the Altimeter Group.
Lieb says that doesn’t mean the Glass experiment was a failure, even smartphones when they first came out weren’t a huge hit. Just look at fitness tracking products like Fitbit she says.
“We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of wearable technology,” says Lieb. “It’s a topic you’re going to hear a lot about this year, and in the next five years to come.”
Even though regular people won’t be able to buy new Glass, Google is keeping its “Glass at Work” program for use in industries like hospitals and factories.
“Their strategy might be a gradual shifting away from the consumer market to industry,” says Chris Hazelton, Research Director for Enterprise Mobility at 451 Research.
“Their search engine business definitely provides them with a steady stream of cash and a healthy advantage over their closest competition,” he says.
Going forward, Google says the Glass team will move out of the semi-secret “Google X” incubator labs to become standalone division reporting to a new CEO.