I love covering Google, because the company is unpredictable. They believe in crazy moon-shot projects and have the resources to pursue them. And they put stuff into the public eye way, way before it's ready for prime time.
It's fun enough when Google does this with software or online services. But it's really fun when they break new ground on hardware platforms.
That's what they did with Google Glass. The wearable platform was ahead of its time, too advanced as a cultural phenomenon to be understood -- a "jetpack for our minds," to quote my own blog post.
Here's what's going on.
Good bye, Glass (for now)
Google will stop selling the Explorer edition of Glass. Monday is the last day you can buy one. (If you're interested in buying Glass, you can find it in the Google Play Store.)
Google Glass had been a research project inside the Google X research and development group. The Google Glass Explorer program, launched in the U.S. on April 15, 2013, was mainly for software developers and selected innovators, who were offered a prototype device for $1,500.
It will now move into a product division of its own like a regular product. Work on Glass will continue to be headed by its current chief, Ivy Ross. But she will report to Tony Fadell.
Fadell has already had a singular career. He was considered one of the "fathers" of the iPod at Apple, rising from a design and strategy contractor for the iPod to eventually leading that division from 2006 to 2008. Two years later, he founded Nest Labs, which makes the Nest smart thermostat and other home automation products. Google acquired Nest -- and Fadell -- a year ago.
Instead of the "beta" Explorer program and the current version of Glass, Google will focus on "future versions of Glass," according to the official announcement on Google+.
The next future version "will be cheaper and have longer battery life, improved sound quality and a better display," according to Ross as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Best of all, she said, Google intends to associate Glass with more familiar types of eyewear, which probably means they'll be integrated better into prescription glasses and sunglasses.
For those of us who own Google Glass, we'll still be able to use them and they're still covered under warranty.
Why people think Google Glass 'failed'
Google Glass is and was a highly successful project, whose reputation was tarnished for two specific reasons that were the opposite of reality.
The first reputation-busting slur against Glass by the hostile San Francisco bar patrons, late night TV comedians and social media negative Nancys was the camera. Google Glass was falsely pegged as an invader of privacy. It has a camera on the front, and people who didn't know what they were talking about assumed that the camera was slurping up photos or videos and sending them to a secret underground bunker to be used later against whoever was unlucky enough to come into a Glasshole's gaze.
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