Technology

Google Glass sales halted but firm says kit is not dead

Media captionRory Cellan-Jones: "There will be a lot of disgruntlement from people who invested in Google Glass smart glasses"

Google is ending sales of its Google Glass eyewear.

The company insists it is still committed to launching the smart glasses as a consumer product, but will stop producing Glass in its present form.

Instead it will focus on "future versions of Glass" with work carried out by a different division to before.

The Explorer programme, which gave software developers the chance to buy Glass for $1,500 (£990) will close.

The programme was launched in the United States in 2013. It was then opened up to anyone and was launched in the UK last summer.

It had been expected that it would be followed reasonably quickly by a full consumer launch.

From next week, the search firm will stop taking orders for the product but it says it will continue to support companies that are using Glass.

New home

The Glass team will also move out of the Google X division which engages in "blue sky" research, and become a separate undertaking, under its current manager Ivy Ross.

She and the Glass team will report to Tony Fadell, the chief executive of the home automation business Nest, acquired by Google a year ago.

Media captionWATCH: Rory spent a week with Glass in April 2014

He said the project had "broken ground and allowed us to learn what's important to consumers and enterprises alike" and he was excited to be working with the team "to integrate those learnings into future products".

Google says it is committed to working on the future of the product, but gave no timescale for the launch of any new version.

Restaurant ban

The Glass project received the enthusiastic backing of Google's co-founder Sergey Brin. He presided over a spectacular unveiling which saw skydivers jump out of an aircraft wearing Glass and beam what they were seeing to a conference in San Francisco.

Early users of Glass were very excited about the product, which enabled them get information in a small screen above their right eye, take photos and videos, and get directions. The technology blogger Robert Scoble said he could not now imagine living a day without the product, and was even photographed wearing it in the shower.

But he and others soon tired of Glass, complaining that it was not evolving in the ways that had been promised. There were also concerns about privacy and safety, with some bars and restaurants banning the use of the smart glasses on their premises.

Other companies have launched smart glasses and various other forms of wearable technology. But no single product has yet proved the major hit that technology companies are looking for as they seek out the next big thing.


Image caption Rory was one of the first in the UK to try out Glass

Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent

Google has tried to present this announcement as just another step in the evolution of an amazing innovation. But make no mistake - Google Glass is dead, at least in its present form.

As I found when I spent a couple of months wearing Glass, it has a number of really useful aspects - in particular the camera. There is however one huge disadvantage - it makes its users look daft, and that meant that it was never going to appeal to a wide audience.

But Google will now have to deal with a disgruntled community of Explorers who paid a large sum for a device which they must have believed would eventually evolve into something more useful.

The Glass team can at least continue its work out of the spotlight without the pressure of deadlines. Tony Fadell, the former Apple designer Google acquired with his smart thermostat firm Nest, will oversee the future of the product.

Both he and the Glass team leader Ivy Ross, who has come from the fashion world, will know that form as well as function will have to be at the centre of any successful piece of wearable technology.


More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites