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The definitive account of why Google Glass went down in flames

Published Feb 5th, 2015 10:20AM EST
Why Did Google Glass Fail

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Google Glass isn’t dead but it’s definitely undergoing some extensive renovations after its first-generation model failed to spark the kind of enthusiasm Google had hoped for. The New York Times has done some extensive reporting on what went wrong with the first Google Glass and has found that Google’s big mistake was pushing the product out into the public eye long before it was a finished product.

RELATED: Newly unearthed emails show Apple knew Google Glass was going to flop from Day 1

“The team within Google X knew the product wasn’t even close to ready for prime time,” one former Google employee told the Times.

In fact, there was even a big debate at the Google X lab about whether Glass would be used as an everyday product just like regular glasses or whether it would just be a specialty device used just for certain situations. Despite this, Google cofounder Sergey Brin wanted to go ahead with a massive promotional campaign to introduce Glass to the world, including showing off the device through high-profile stunts involving skydivers and fashion shows where models would walk the runways wearing Glass.

It was also Brin’s call to give Glass a public beta in which interested buyers would pay $1,500 for the privilege of helping Google fix up Glass’s extremely buggy software and user interface. Unlike Apple, which typically makes its biggest mistakes behind closed doors, Google loves to show off its wildest ideas to the public and get early feedback before they get a broader release. Sometimes this works, but in Glass’s case it did not.

At any rate, the Times‘ sources say that Nest CEO Tony Fadell, who will oversee Glass going forward, plans to redesign the device completely from scratch and will not show it off to the public until he thinks it’s absolutely ready. All told, it sounds like Google has learned its mistakes with Google Glass the hard way.

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.