Somewhere out there, someone has already started whistling “I've Got A Golden Ticket” from the 1971 adaptation of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” because Google (News - Alert) is about to throw open the doors to one of its own closely-held products: the Google Glass. But those interested in buying may find it even harder than getting into Willy Wonka's plant, as Google plans to open those floodgates for just one day.
The plan is that this Tuesday, April 15—Tax Day in the United States—Google will open up its doors and give users the opportunity to shell out $1,500 and get a Google Glass system. Slots will be limited, according to Google, so chances are many of those who do show up for the Google Glass system will end up turned away at the gate, so to speak, even though this is the first time the gate has been opened. Reports suggest that it won't just be Google Glass that gets offered up, but also the designer frames that accompany the Google Glass.
It's a development whose time has come; reports suggest that the Google Glass is having difficulty gaining ground as a consumer device, while many of its best customers are coming out of professional sectors like healthcare and law enforcement. The military is proving to be a close friend of Google Glass, with battlefield applications coming into play as well. Google seems to be working with this idea, coming out with the “Glass for Work” program geared toward getting Glass more front-of-mind with users in business capacities, showing firms how Google Glass can help drive everyday operations.
But consumers are facing plenty of difficulty around the system, from difficulty buying one in the first place to difficulty in actually wearing one anywhere. Some places have outright banned the wearing of such in business establishments—the 5 Point Bar may have been the first to issue such a ban—and lawmakers are starting to look at bans on the device while driving, despite the value of such a device in terms of providing navigation support.
Google Glass' high price point is also a significant barrier to entry; it's not surprising that consumer applications haven't really caught on when Google Glass units are tough to find—most available Google Glass units are found on eBay (News - Alert)—and when said units are actually available, it's only at a high price. Businesses are more willing to shell out, especially if the use of said devices improves efficiency or the like, which is usually a bottom-line improver. But asking regular people to drop what might be two or more house payments on the system is tough to justify. Admittedly, there's plenty of interest around the devices—Google's velvet-rope approach to marketing certainly helped fuel that—but it might well have gone on a bit too long, and the market may have moved on.
While Google will likely sell out of Google Glass units when it opens the doors in a limited capacity this Tuesday, it's worth wondering just how many units will actually be made available, or how it would do if it went into wide release. This is getting to be a very unusual product offering, and only time will tell just how it all comes out.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi
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