Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 18, 2014

Do People Favor Oculus Rift over Google Glass?

One thing that was made very evident to me when I attended our first annual Wearable Technology Expo in 2013 was just how much fashion plays a very important role in any field. Regardless of how functional a device or product may be, if you do not feel comfortable wearing it, if you do not want people to know that you are wearing it, then it is pretty much useless. It will end up sitting in a drawer or shelf gathering dust.

There has to be a combination of functionality, exquisiteness and an overall feel that it belongs where it is. It is true that civilization has its group of geeks who will wear something out in public regardless of how they are perceived, however, the majority of people who exist in the world want to make an impression and that impression is supposed to be not only favorable to them but also what they are displaying.

So is that why we are not seeing a scenario where everyone wants to go out and spend $1,500 to purchase a pair of Google Glass? It is very exciting to use your pair of Google Glass to take videos as you skydive, like Google co-founder Sergey Brin did, however, it is quite another thing to record your bicycle ride a couple of blocks down the road to buy groceries as others have.

 Possibly, the factor that affects Google Glass the most is that the price tag is still $1,500. That means that while the device is offered to the general public, it is not really available to the general public. This leads us to an even greater problem, developers want their work to be viewed and used by as many people as possible.

Therein lies the problem, developers are losing interest in the device and without cool applications, the device stops being cool. Of 16 Glass app makers contacted by Reuters, nine said that they had stopped work on their projects or abandoned them, mostly because of the lack of customers or limitations of the device. Three more have switched to developing for business, leaving behind consumer projects.

According to Google, the company is as committed as ever to the project. There are still hundreds of engineers and executives working on Glass, including a former Calvin Klein executive who was brought in as the new “fashion focused” boss. On the other hand, we have seen several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass leaving the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz.

Chris O'Neill, who is Glass Head of Business Operations, said ‘We are completely energized and as energized as ever about the opportunity that wearables and Glass in particular represent. We are as committed as ever to a consumer launch. That is going to take time and we are not going to launch this product until it's absolutely ready.”

The Chief Executive of Little Guy Games, Tom Frencel, has put development of a Glass game on hold and is currently looking, at other platforms such as Oculus Rift, saying, “There’s no market at this point.” What began as an impressive announcement that was met with great enthusiasm, followed by mysterious shipping containers appearing in strategic locations overnight suggesting thousands of devices, seems to have petered out. It does seem that most developers have switched their focus to apps for the Oculus Rift platform.

When you consider that Glass now sells for almost half price on eBay and that some developers have claimed they felt unsupported by investors and even Google itself, you do have to wonder what the future holds. One of the original launch dates was supposed to be sometime this year. That date has been moved to sometime next year. It seems that the lack of a launch date has given some developers the impression that Google still treats Glass as an experiment and not a product imminently ready for the general public.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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