Google announced on Wednesday that it would stop selling the Glass Enterprise Edition.
The original Google Glass was phased out in 2015 and reintroduced in 2017 as a business-focused product.
The decision is the latest example that high costs and a general lack of public interest continue to hurt AR and VR products.
Google is halting sales of its augmented reality Google Glass Enterprise Edition, marking the second time the company has discontinued the product and raising questions about waning consumer interest in the technology.
The tech giant said in a statement Wednesday that it would stop selling Glass Enterprise effective immediately, noting that it will continue to honor software updates and product replacements through September 15. Despite the glasses’ cutting off, a Google spokesperson told Insider that the company is “very committed to AR” and plans to find ways to integrate the technology into other products.
Google’s statement comes as revenue growth and consumer demand for the technology remain sluggish across the board due to several factors including high price points, a lack of consumer awareness and flawed technology.
Over the past year, this has been compounded by economic difficulties, according to Marina Koytcheva, vice president of forecasting at market analysis firm CCS Insight.
“High inflation has hit consumer budgets in many key markets this year, and some people who might have treated themselves to virtual reality headsets in better circumstances this year have postponed their purchases,” Koytcheva said in a December 2023 report .
It also comes as competitors like Meta, Microsoft and Snap struggle with consumer acceptance of their own AR products, and critics wonder if the world’s biggest tech companies will ever actually succeed in getting the tech to catch on with consumers enforce masses.
The rise and fall of Google Glass
The first product, launched over a decade ago as Google Glass, was designed as a personal assistant that you can wear on your face. For example, it could provide directions or help send hands-free messages.
Although Google Glass drew interest for its seemingly enormous potential, it also served as an inspiration for late-night TV jokes, and many online users dubbed those who spent $1,500 on the device “glass holes.”
Further backlash has emerged over the headset’s camera, a built-in feature designed to help recognize surroundings and provide users with location-based information. However, some saw it as a potential tool for secretly recording or photographing people without their consent.
Ultimately, Google Glass’ high price tag, along with privacy concerns surrounding the camera, led to it not being mainstreamed and discontinued in 2015.
In 2017 the product was reintroduced and refocused on being a business tool with use cases e.g. B. assisting workers on a factory floor with hands-free training, or allowing doctors to focus on interacting with a patient while someone watches the video feed with notes transcribed by the person.
The business version seemed to be successful for a while since Google released a revamped version with various technical upgrades in 2019, according to CNBC.
Last July, Google said it plans to begin public testing of new AR glasses that can transcribe and translate incoming speech. In its announcement, the company was careful to note that the product would feature a light that turns on when the device’s camera is in use and that footage captured by the camera cannot be viewed later by the user.
However, these advances proved insufficient to keep the AR glasses afloat.
Tech companies are struggling to get AR going
Google isn’t the only one struggling to gain traction with AR products.
Wednesday’s announcement comes just months after employees working on Microsoft’s AR-wearable HoloLens were reportedly drawn into a round of layoffs that affected most of the tech industry. It also comes after Meta’s efforts to get average consumers interested in the Metaverse and other virtual and augmented reality products.
Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly planning to release a “mixed reality” headset later this year and has shown off prototypes that look more like Meta’s Oculus virtual reality products than Glass or the HoloLens.
The HoloLens will retail for $3,500, and Apple’s headset will reportedly retail for around $3,000, making it at least twice the price of discontinued versions from Glass.
Snapchat’s parent company, Snap, has created several versions of its AR “Spectacles” but is no longer selling them to the public after low sales and excess inventory. The latest version is “designed for developers looking to push the boundaries of immersive AR experiences,” according to the product’s website.
Read the original article on Business Insider