The company stated on its Google+ page Wednesday that January 19th would be the final day for consumers to buy the experimental Explorer Edition of Google Glass.
Google went on to say that it is ready to “graduate” the project from its Google X labs and will end the Glass Explorer Program, an “open beta” where consumers could give feedback about the $1,500 device.
Google made it clear in the announcement that Google Glass was not dead and would be “moving even more from concept to reality.” The company told customers to be ready for future versions of Glass, but gave no timeline or details about the next edition. Google also confirmed it would continue to support companies that are using Glass, according to the BBC.
Google Glass had its share of issues when it was originally released. “Explorers” went from excited to underwhelmed as they tested the young technology. James Katz, Boston University’s director of emerging media studies, said he did not find the device “useful” and it “disturbed” people around him, as he said in a 2014 interview with MIT Technology Review.
This disturbed feeling may have been Glass’ undoing. While the hands-free device opened new possibilities for wearable tech, it was also very well known that the wearer had the potential to record all activity around him or her with the built-in camera. It became a scarlet letter for the wearer (see Bluetooth headsets from the 2000s) and few people felt comfortable being “walking, talking invasions of privacy,” as the Atlantic put it.
Google has yet to say how it will address this issue.
Even celebrities could not pull off the awkward device, writes Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent. Mr. Cellan-Jones spent a couple months wearing the specs and believes some new talent will address the fashion crisis. Google has brought on Ivy Ross, American business executive and jewelry designer, as the Glass team leader to add some fashion sense to the design. Ms. Ross will be reporting to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of Nest Labs, which Google purchased last year for $3 billion.
While Google has not made any official statements about the new version of Google Glass, the Wall Street Journal reported in December that the company partnered with Intel, who will be developing a processor for the Glass, and will possibly be releasing a new model in 2015.
“Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation,” Cellan-Jones writes. “But make no mistake - Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form."