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Google will stop selling Glass, its Internet-connected eyewear to consumers, until the company can develop a more polished and affordable version that's less likely to be viewed as a freakish device. The sales moratorium on the nearly 2-year-old "Explorer" edition of Google Glass goes into effect Jan. 19. The decision announced Thursday coincides with Glass' spin-off from the secretive Google X lab where it was invented. Glass will now operate in a division steered by veteran marketing executive Ivy Ross, whose past experience includes stints at fashion-conscious companies such as Gap Inc. and Calvin Klein. Ross will report to Tony Fadell, who played an instrumental role in the design of Apple's iPod and now runs the smart-appliance maker Nest Labs that Google Inc. bought for $3.2 billion last year. Google will still sell a version of Glass to companies that have found uses for the device in their offices, stores and factories.
The Mountain View, California, company still plans to come back with a new consumer model of Glass, but hasn't set a timetable for the next release. By the time Glass returns to the consumer market, it will face more competition from other wearable computing devices, including a line of smart watches that Apple Inc. plans to begin selling this spring. In a Thursday blog post, Google likened the Explorer edition of Glass to an infant learning how to walk. "Well, we still have some work to do, but now we're ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run," Google said.
Google hasn't disclosed how many units of the Glass' Explorer version were sold. The company says about 100 businesses, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and Taco Bell, are testing Glass as a tool for work.
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