Google Glass doomed? The wearable tech's future gets cloudy, lacks mass appeal while geeks struggle to love it

Has Google Glass’ futuristic vision gone all blurry? The wearable technology made huge headlines when its development was announced, touted as the wearable tech that will change how we view the world. However, the product’s development has been faced with various setbacks, including major staff departure.

Company executives are adamant the consumer launch will take place “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,” Chris O'Neill, Google's head of business operations for Glass, told Reuters.

But the product’s high price tag and a rethink among companies working to develop apps for integrating with Glass for mass usage, with mobile phones or other platforms, have had to can their projects.

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.

However, Reuters adds that plenty of larger developers remain with Glass. The nearly 100 apps on the official web site include Facebook and OpenTable, although Twitter was a recent defector.

No mass appeal?

"If there was 200 million Google Glasses sold, it would be a different perspective. There’s no market at this point," Reuters quoted Tom Frencel saying. Frencel is the chief executive of Little Guy Games, which put development of a Glass game on hold this year and is looking at other platforms, including the Facebook Inc-owned virtual-reality goggles Oculus Rift.

Another defector is Alex Foster, who told Reuters, all consumer Glass startups developing apps are “either completely dead or have pivoted” to enterprise products or rival wearables. Foster himself started See Through -- a Glass advertising analytics firm -- after a venture firm earlier this year withdrew its offer to back his consumer-oriented Glass fitness company.

Staff ditched company

Staff departures added to the problem. Several key Google employees instrumental to developing Glass have left the company in the last six months, including lead developer Babak Parviz, electrical engineering chief Adrian Wong, and Ossama Alami, director of developer relations, Reuters says.

And a Glass funding consortium created by Google Ventures and two of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Andreessen Horowitz, quietly deleted its website, routing users to the main Glass site.

Google insists it is committed to Glass, with hundreds of engineers and executives working on it, as well as new fashionista boss Ivy Ross, a former Calvin Klein executive. Tens of thousands use Glass in the pilot consumer program.

Geeks backing off too

Geek Beat.tv's review of Google Glass

There is also growing perception that the Glass is ultra geeky, frightening even the geekiest of geeks.  As Glass users hit the streets in the US, people began to view the device - capable of secret recording -- as a privacy intrusion.

The US$1,500 (NZ$1900) test version of the product has a camera, processor and stamp-sized computer screen mounted to the edge of eyeglass frames.

One US navy worker has already been diagnosed as the first person to suffer from Glass withdrawal symptoms after he had to give up wearing his Glass. The 31-year US navy serviceman man had checked into the US Navy Substance Abuse and Recovery Programme (SARP) in September 2013 for alcoholism treatment where he had to give up his electronic devices.

By the time the man checked into the facility, he was showing signs of involuntary movements, cravings, memory problems; in his dreams he viewed things as if he was wearing his Google Glass. 

Read Huffington Post's blog Google Glass is Doomed

Another negative for Google Glass from blogger Drew Breunig: Goggle Glass is just like the Segway and Similarly Doomed