NYT: ‘Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End’

Nick Bilton:

People who constantly reach into a pocket to check a smartphone for bits of information will soon have another option: a pair of Google-made glasses that will be able to stream information to the wearer’s eyeballs in real time.

According to several Google employees familiar with the project who asked not to be named, the glasses will go on sale to the public by the end of the year. These people said they are expected “to cost around the price of current smartphones,” or $250 to $600.

My first thought was to laugh, but, hey, at this point, let’s give Google the benefit of the doubt and hope these things are actually useful and cool. We’re not going to be tapping on 3 to 5 inch pieces of glass for the entire future of mobile computing. Something’s got to come next. Maybe heads-up displays are next.

Here’s what gets me about Bilton’s report:

Everyone I spoke with who was familiar with the project repeatedly said that Google was not thinking about potential business models with the new glasses. Instead, they said, Google sees the project as an experiment that anyone will be able to join. If consumers take to the glasses when they are released later this year, then Google will explore possible revenue streams.

If they’re planning to sell them for “$250 to $600”, isn’t that a good business model? Why is it simply accepted without debate that companies like Amazon and Google won’t turn a profit from hardware but have to find profits only through advertising or selling content? Surely Apple isn’t the only company that can turn a nice profit selling $600 gadgets.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012