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Google Glass: 5 Reasons I Won't Buy

Google Glass is available for one day only to anyone willing to plunk down $1,500. Here's why I'm saying no.

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Seeking to expand its pool of user-testers, Google is making Google Glass, its camera-laden wearable computer, available to the general public for a single day. Previously, Glass was available only to select Explorers and those invited by the Explorers. The cost? A mere $1,500. Purchasing Glass will give buyers the chance to join a small but growing group of people willing to flaunt their nerdiness in public. Sound enticing? Not to me.

Here are five reasons I won't be rushing out to buy Google Glass today, or anytime soon.

1. Cost.
At $1,500, Google Glass doesn't come cheap. That's a lot of cash to front for a product with uncertain value. There are plenty of other things you can buy for $1,500: A really nice laptop; four Nexus 5 smartphones; six Chromebooks; three entry-level or two maxed-out Apple iPad Airs; a killer HDTV; a laptop, smartphone, and tablet … I could go on, but you get the idea.

2. I don't want to get beat up.
Over the weekend, Business Insider reporter Kyle Russell was assaulted for wearing Google Glass while walking down the street in San Francisco. He's not the first, and he probably won't be the last, to become the victim of a crime due to misconceptions about what Google Glass is and what it does. Russell wasn't using Glass when he was assaulted; it simply happened to be on his face, and there was no provocation -- a stranger ran up to him, grabbed Glass from his face, ran down the street, and smashed it. Russell wasn't injured, but others have been in similar attacks. (Many of these attacks have taken place in San Francisco, where the tech industry is facing a backlash from non-techie residents).

[Google Glass on the battlefield? Read Google Glass Tested For Air Force Jumps.]

3. The hardware isn't quite there yet.
I happen to like the general idea behind Google Glass, but I don't think it has reached its final form. Google hasn't tweaked Glass much in the year since it first hit Explorers' faces, but my guess is Google hasn't finished adjusting the product. Google is spelling out the trial status of the product quite clearly by calling users Explorers. Further, Google promised a consumer version of Google Glass would be available at some point for much less than $1,500.

4. Other wearables are more enticing.
The wearable computing device category is far from defined, but there are other products in the market that offer more utility -- smartwatches, for example. The current crop of wrist-based computers not only offers notifications and the ability to interact more fully with smartphones, but they double as music players, workout partners, and cameras. They also cost much less; most are priced between $150 and $300.

5. The 'Gl@sshole' effect.
Google Glass has received a somewhat cynical reaction from people around the world. Many fear it out of privacy concerns. Many think it is over-engineered to solve problems that don't exist. This generally negative view has prompted Google to set up a list of Dos and Don'ts for Explorers: Don't be creepy or rude; don't glass-out (pay attention to Glass so long you forget your surroundings); and don't wear it and expect to be ignored are just a few. Edward Snowden's NSA revelations have raised public awareness of privacy issues, and many Americans are now much more sensitive about their personal privacy. Google Glass's ability to clandestinely record video and take pictures has many people assuming the worst of Glass wearers.

I do think Google Glass is an interesting experiment. I hope Google is able to transition the product to something that's more useful, more accepted, and less expensive.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
4/16/2014 | 8:57:59 AM
Re: Google Glass - Five Reasons i Won't Buy
I would like to have a Glass like product just for the HUD, if I could pair a device with my phone though and get the display on a Glass like display I'd be happy.  The natural question would be "why" but if you've ever spent time looking down at a smart phone screen trying to do things via RDP, squinted at a display washed out by the sun or tap out a very long message you will appreciate being able to keep your head up without your phone held a face level.  I don't think I would ever record my day or snap pictures as I walked around but I would love a display that would keep me from becoming part of the phone zombie apocalypse.
User Rank: Strategist
4/16/2014 | 8:33:08 AM
Re: There is potential!
There is already a much more affordable tool out there for your needs -

The ReconJet is way cool. I saw a banner ad for it months ago and it gives exactly what you are talking about at half of the price of Glass. Plus, it is already configured for what you need it for.
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2014 | 7:38:10 PM
Reason #6
There is no real need for Google Glass. I cannot think of a single moment in my already rather long (tech) life where I thought "Hmmmmm...if my glasses could shoot pictures and video and interact with my smartphone, that would be great right now!" Likewise, other than making phone calls and potentially checking email I see no purpose for smartphones other than that some companies get stinkin' rich. Both are nothing but an expensive toy.
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2014 | 7:18:52 PM
Re: Google Glass - Five Reasons i Won't Buy
Segway is an apt comparison in terms of hype. And like a Segway, Glass will be useful in certain limited circumstances. I'm more and more convinced that Google's decision to make Glass a general purpose Android device is the primary problem. A general purpose computer is useful when you're working at your desk and you want to switch between different applications. With Glass, as with a mobile phone, I may want some functions some times, but I don't need to wear it to have those functions accessible all the time. Glass is like mounting your cellphone on your ear so you can use it any time. Is that really desirable?

One common scenario Google depicts is driving with Glass. Sergey Brin did so early on and posted a picture on Google+. But think about driving on a long trip with Glass. It would probably go unused most of the time. Is the opportunity to get a picture or two worth wearing Glass the whole time? Is Glass better than a GoPro on the dashboard or a mobile you could use when you stopped the car or a passenger who could take pictures for you?

Google, like Facebook, has this assumption that people have to capture images, email, and record things 24/7. But I don't think most people want to do that. And those who do are not really people you want to be around. Frankly, a mobile phone does most of what Glass can do for less, less conspiciously.
Drew Conry-Murray
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
4/15/2014 | 6:16:51 PM
Re: Google Glass - Five Reasons i Won't Buy
I'm not a Google Glass fan, but I don't think the Segway comparison is fair. The Internet is incredibly useful as a general tool, and I'm sure there are going to be lots of applications for the hands-free access that Glass enables. By contrast, the Segway is an appliance--a single-purpose device--which limits its utility. Also, it's impossible not to look like a dork on a Segway. If Google Glass gets popular, I'm sure designers will find ways to make them look cooler.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 4:55:37 PM
Look at this thing. In a few years, it will seem like the calculators we paid $3,000 for in 1973. I think implantable contact lenses (which were science fiction 10 years ago but on the verge of reality today) are the way to go. And personally, I see this apparatus (along with "smart wristwatches") as something already past its prime and something with a solution searching for a problem. Sort of like 3D-TVs. What can this thing do that my "smart telephone" can't do?
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 4:18:55 PM
Re: Camera pointing at me?
That is an excellent idea!  Only the red-light should beam straight center of what the camera is aiming at.  LOL
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 4:16:54 PM
Great article!
You made so many great points and wow, I didn't realize the smartwatches were so affordable.  I couldn't agree with you more on the nerdiness aspect.  Shared this.  Thanks for that enjoyable read.
User Rank: Apprentice
4/15/2014 | 3:25:52 PM
Camera pointing at me?
So you're talking to someone, wearing these 'glasses'... really a mini Gopro camera pointing at you with no indication its on or not...

Wondering what the polite way to address this is?  "Would you mind taking that camera off me?"

"It's not on, they're my Google Glass"

"Well, it feels like a camera is pointed at me, would you mind not using them while talking with me, its awkward"

Unless you're from NYC... this whole thing is just a little confronting and uncomfortable.  I think some sort of privacy law should be in place... like a little red light indicating its on.


Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
4/15/2014 | 3:19:57 PM
Re: There is potential!
Glass is still in the womb -- so to speak. But I agree with ChuckS781, there are many situations both work (police, doctors, journalists, manufacturing) and play (mostly athletes from cyclists to golfers) where accessing or recording information hands-free will be beneficial. Most folks don't need or even want Google Glass now. But give it five years. Convenience and unique features are powerful forces. Did you ever think as you snapped your flip phone shut in in 2006 that you'd soon be using a touch-screen smartphone to identify a song playing, watch a movie and/or tell you how many calories you burned while jogging? Glass and other wearables are just the next wave. However, I really hope people don't wear smartglasses all the time. I pray for "as needed" use. Moderation, please. 
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