Doomed? That’s what blogger Robert Scoble thinks of Google Glass in 2014. A large part of his reasoning is the price point, which he hears won’t dip below $500. While unconfirmed, it’s nonetheless a widely held opinion. Glass, which currently sells for $1,500 to an increasing number of eligible consumers, is still in beta form, both in hardware and software. Aside from pricing, there are other hurdles to navigate as well.
Facebook seems to be a sticking point for Scoble, which seems a bit trite, but makes a salient example. If something as ubiquitous as Facebook isn’t trying to get on board, how likely is it that other similarly sized entities will? More to the point, how likely is it that Developers will want to invest the time, money, and effort into supporting a wholly different UI? Many, Scoble included, feel Glass has a clumsy interface. Unless you’ve carefully memorized the layout of your Glass, it can be troublesome to navigate in the murky scrolling world of Glass.
Pricing, though, is the mainstay for why Glass can and probably will falter in 2014. We’re not ready to say “doomed”, but for $500 or more, the average consumer will balk. Hard. We think it would have similar problems at $350. Remember that we’re talking about soccer moms and line cooks, here, not the tech obsessed 30-something. The ‘still has an HTC Evo’ average consumer will neither understand or want Glass right now, save for a $200 or lower price point. There is also the fitting appointment, which asks someone to drop into a physical location to get their pair of Glass. That limits the instances in which people can readily get Glass, and the inherent learning curve could backfire. We’ll point to the story of Galaxy Gear devices coming back to Best Buy in droves to highlight how new UIs sometimes backfire.
Speaking of Best Buy, Scoble innocently dropped a line about Google fitting Glass at Best Buy. He’s the same writer who slipped out a rumor earlier in the ear that Google had negotiated retail space with Best Buy, so he either knows much more than he aimed to let out, or he’s just myopic about how Glass fittings will take place. We think Best Buy is the cleanest example of how it could work, but we’re also not convinced average folk will want to sit down and be fitted — or learn how to use something as different as Glass.
Is $500 too much? Yes. Does it hurt Glass’ chances of survival in 2014, if they end up selling at that price point? Absolutely. Unless Google treats Glass like Chrome OS, in which the first device was built by them and others were allowed to build hardware for it later on, Glass has issues — now and forever.