What killed Google Glass? Sergey Brin's affair and an imperfect product

Why did Google Glass come to an end so abruptly? New York Times' Nick Bilton had done a detailed story highlighting exactly how the whole Glass project went off the rails.


In January, Google made a shocking announcement. It would halt the sales of Google Glass Explorer Edition which cost $1500 and was available on the US Play Store site. Glass was the one of the most awaited projects from Google and given that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was seen roaming everywhere with Glass, most had assumed that it would be a matter of time before the device would be made available to the public.

In blog post announcing the end of sales, Google wrote, “Well, we still have some work to do, but now we’re ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run.”

So what happened and why did Glass come to an end so abruptly? New York Times' Nick Bilton had done a detailed story highlighting exactly how the whole Glass project went off the rails. According to the story, the intense publicity on Glass, the hype around the product and to some extent the Google co-founder affair's with Glass marketing manager Amanda Rosenberg, all ended up playing a big role in the sudden demise of the device.

NYT points out that for starters Google X was headed by Sebastian Thrun, a researcher at Stanford University, who Google's then CEO Eric Schmidt hired in 2009.

The report also notes that even within Google X there were issues on how Glass should function, whether it should be worn at all times or for "specific utilitarian functions."

One important point that Bilton makes in his report is that, "nearly everyone at X was in agreement that the current prototype was just that: a prototype, with major kinks to be worked out." However Google's co-founder Brin took a completely different view and decided that they should take the idea public and ask regular users for their opinion on the prototype to help improve Glass.

This plan didn't exactly work, given that Glass was so badly panned. Tech critics often commented on the poor Battery life, and privacy issues. “The team within Google X knew the product wasn’t even close to ready for prime time,” a former Google employee told the paper.

What made matters worse was that after Brin's affair with Rosenberg got out, "he too stopped wearing Glass in public," says the report.

But the end of explorer edition, doesn't mean that Google has stopped working on Glass. Glass will now be headed by veteran marketing executive Ivy Ross and Tony Fadell, who played an instrumental role in the design of Apple’s iPod and now runs the smart-appliance maker Nest Labs that Google bought for $3.2 billion last year.

The report goes on to note that its likely that Fadell will "redesign the product from scratch" and that "there will be no public experimentation." Read the full report on New York Times here.


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