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Google admits its fatal mistake with Google Glass

Published Mar 18th, 2015 6:15PM EDT
Why Did Google Glass Fail Astro Teller

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It’s safe to say that Google’s early efforts to present Google Glass to the public didn’t go as expected. Google insiders starting dishing dirt to The New York Times last month about how many in Google’s X lab viewed Glass as a product that was a long way from being ready for public consumption. However, Google cofounder Sergey Brin thought that Glass was so great that it needed to be shared with the world immediately, which led to Google offering the headset for $1,500 a piece in what was essentially the most expensive open beta of any product ever.

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We all know how it turned out: Many Glass early adopters posted hugely negative opinions about the device while those who loved the headset were ridiculed as “Glassholes” and were routinely tossed out of bars and movie theaters because they made both business owners and patrons uncomfortable.

At SXSW this week, Google X director Astro Teller said that while the Glass Explorer program was definitely worth doing, Google made a critical mistake in how it communicated the program’s mission to the public. Here are his exact remarks, via Medium.

“The bad decision was that we allowed and sometimes even encouraged too much attention for the program,” he said. “Instead of people seeing the Explorer devices as learning devices, Glass began to be talked about as if it were a fully baked consumer product. The device was being judged and evaluated in a very different context than we intended  —  Glass was being held to standards that launched consumer products are held to, but the Explorer edition of Glass was really just an early prototype. “

Has there ever been an “early prototype” of a device that’s been sold for $1,500? If so, we can’t think of one.

Recent reports we’ve read about Glass indicate that Google is taking development of the project back behind closed doors since its more open approach didn’t do the product any favors last time. We have no idea when — or even if — we’ll see another Glass again, but if we do we can bet Google won’t unveil it until it’s a lot more polished than the first-gen model.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.