2015 tech prediction: Google Glass will abandon consumers, pivot to business

With many Google Glass consumers losing interest, or steering clear of the Internet-connected eyeglasses because of the social backlash against wealthy techies the gadget has ignited, Google will make a concerted push in 2015 to put Glass to work in more businesses.

The Glass, which once appealed to tech junkies for its science fiction-like quality, has largely fallen out of favor by early adopters, and the prospects for wider consumer adoption are slim. Even Google seems to have conceded this, and has pushed back the Glass roll out to the mass market. Reuters reported in November that more than half of Glass app developers had abandoned their projects because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device, such as the short battery life.

Another sign that the project is withering — a collective of venture capitalists, known as The Glass Collective, that was propped up last year to support entrepreneurs working on Glass hardware and software, appears to have fallen by the wayside. Its Website no longer exists.

Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester recently wrote: “Glass is extremely compelling but extremely limited in its current form.”

But experts including venture capitalist Tom Rikert, who worked on wearables while at Andreessen Horowitz, say Google is only beginning to tap Glass’s potential in the business world  — and that’s where Google focus in the New Year. Oil refineries — including the multinational corporation Schlumberger — and other industries that require highly technical field work where an Internet connection would be helpful have begun to use Glass.

Consider the Glass, said Rikert, as the digital version of safety goggles. They are also a more acceptable fashion statement in the field where there isn’t the same social stigma. Glass wearers have been chastised and even attacked for wearing the high-tech glasses out socially at bars.

“My conclusion is (Google is) finding it more valuable in the enterprise world,” Rikert said.

Doctors and medical schools including UCSF are also experimenting with Glass, collaborating on surgeries that are filmed through the glasses’ camera. Glass has also been tested by police and professional athletes. Likely, more businesses will try out Glass in 2015.

Google has recognized the brightest spots for Glass are in the business world, and earlier this year launched Glass at Work, a program to certify companies to make business apps for Glass. The program now has a handful of partners that are making software, with more expected in 2015, as Google tries to resurrect the Glass in the business world.

Photo: Attendees wear Google Glass while posing for a group photo during the Google I/O developer conference on May 17, 2013 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

 

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