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Three lies about Google Glass

Mike Elgan | April 6, 2015
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt shocked everyone last week by telling The Wall Street Journal that Google isn't killing Google Glass.

What they didn't tell you was that you weren't paying for hardware. You were paying for highly personal, concierge-like tech support. You were paying to be on the ground floor of an experimental, totally new category of consumer electronics. And you were paying for replacement units. (In my own case, my Google Glass unit broke twice, and I was given replacements with no questions asked and at no additional charge.)

More to the point, Apple subsequently came along with the Edition line of Apple Watches, which range in price from $10,000 for the cheapest model to $17,000 for the most expensive one. According to much of the fanboy media, this is a reasonable price for a gold watch — it's actually lower than the prices of many other gold watches. Never mind that — unlike regular high-end watches, you won't be giving the Apple Watch to your grandson as a family heirloom; it will be obsolete in two years. (To be fair, the pricing of the Apple Watch Edition collection is a point of controversy.)

Even the "regular" Apple Watch plus an iPhone is pricey. For example, my preferred setup would be an iPhone 6 Plus with 128GB of storage, which costs $949 unlocked. I'd also like the 42mm stainless steel case Apple Watch with black Sport band, which costs $599.

Together, that iPhone and that Apple Watch cost $48 more than Google Glass.

A strong consensus has formed in the tech press that $1,500 is way too much for a totally experimental, unique and well supported new category of consumer electronics device.

But in the light of what's considered reasonable for Apple products, the cost of Google Glass is actually not that high.

Lie No. 3: Google is killing Google Glass

Google announced in January that it was "graduating" Google Glass from its main R&D lab, called Google X, into its own product division, and that Glass sales would be discontinued until the shipping version of Glass was ready for prime time.

The tech media generally reported this to be something of a face-saving way for Google to kill off Google Glass. The news was reported as evidence that Google Glass was a failure. It was also widely reported in a passive-aggressive way, with reports saying "Google says the move doesn't mean Glass is dead."

Yet two weeks later, Google made the exact same move with a project with the exact same status. Project Tango, a system for rapid indoor mapping from a smartphone or tablet, was moved from the lab into its own product group.

But in that case, the tech press reported the move to mean that Tango was "getting real" and "becoming an official Google device."


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