The Google Glass is hardly a subtle piece of tech. The touchpad attached to the side of its optical head-mounted display curves around the wearable's lens, with you having to gently stroke it in order to access its various features, meaning that using it in public makes you look like you're scratching a rather stubborn itch on the side of your head. While it does boast a rather sleek design considering the tech packed into it, it still doesn't really look cool.
While that may sound rather vapid, it's undeniable that the modern tech industry revolves around aesthetics. Apple products sell so well because the company has built its entire brand upon peer pressure they've cultivated through years of releasing good-looking tech that consumers aspire to own. Apple Stores are manned by twenty-somethings who wear Chuck Taylors and look like they have a healthy social life, while Apple products themselves cater towards the metropolitan twenty-to-thirty-year-olds who start their day with a morning run and a Starbucks. They're essentially shooting fish in a barrel.
Google Glass does not appeal to this ever-expanding demographic, and as such they were a product destined to only be purchased by those inhabiting a select group - the wealthy tech enthusiast. Unfortunately for Google, this group wasn't exactly going to be the one that catapulted the Glass into the mainstream, and the fact that Google Glass owner meet-ups were a real thing highlights the key issue with the tech: Google Glass owner's weren't cool. They were a boring cult.
Picture a Google Glass owner. What you see isn't some attractive suburban socialite that every tech manufacturer wants their product to cater to, but rather a dour middle-aged chap roaming the show floor of CES, thinking he looks like an extra from Minority Report.
The public perception of a Google Glass owner isn't exactly a positive one, and with good reason. There have been reports of Glass wearers throwing tantrums over them being asked to remove the wearable whilst sitting in restaurants, and as previously mentioned these people have created Facebook pages dedicated to themselves. Can you imagine iPhone 6 owners putting a Facebook page together to organize a meet-up where they sit in a park and wax lyrical about the joys of their smartphone? Allow me to make a sweeping generalization, but Glass owners sound like wankers.
It also doesn't help that they actively attempted to "dispel" some of the "mistruths" regarding the tech on the internet, as if they believed that being a Glass owner made them a separate race from us lowly non-Glass wearers. Many who plumped down the cash to be a part of the Explorer program seemed to gradually believe they were a part of some form of religious sect. While Google would have likely appreciated the early buyers of the Glass working so hard to defend the device, consumers feeling as though they have to extol the virtues of hardware, like preaching vegans smugly explaining how their hybrid car is, like, soooooo good for the environment, doesn't exactly paint a great picture in the mind of the general public.
The Explorer program, which allowed developers and impatient consumers to get their hands on the first batch of Google Glass models, had a $1500 barrier of entry. Considering the tech packed inside the Glass, it's unlikely that the price would've dropped come its retail release. For a piece of unproven tech, and one that garnered a resounding "meh" from the general public upon its unveiling, that's simply too high.
Unless you're Apple, no one is going to want your overly expensive hardware unless EVERYONE else wants it. And in the case of Glass, hardly anybody other than the most curious was interested.
If you're walking around wearing a device on your face that could potentially record everything they're looking at, people around you are inevitably going to be a little bit suspicious of you. As such, the Glass found itself being banned in restaurants and theaters, with many film companies afraid that its recording features could aid piracy.
Of course, the Glass itself made it quite obvious when its user was recording footage using it, with a light flashing on above its lens. That didn't prevent the general public from finding it quite off-putting, however, and the notion of standing next to a guy at the urinals wearing a pair would undoubtedly making for an uncomfortable peeing session.
Here's the key problem with the Glass - why would you risk carrying $1500 worth of tech on your face, especially tech that was so roundly maligned, when a smartphone can basically do the exact same job?
Sure, upcoming projects such as Magic Leap's augmented reality app looked intriguing, and we were curious to see how Google was going to implement it into the Glass hardware upon their acquisition of the company, but it simply wasn't enough to convince us that replacing our smartphones for incredibly expensive glasses was a good idea.
The Explorer program didn't hint at anything in the Glass' future that would make us part with our smartphones, and that's where it ultimately failed. Google may insist that they're going back to the drawing board with the technology, though the entire concept behind the Glass is something that the general public doesn't want at this point in time, perhaps not ever.
Maybe we'll be forced to eat our words and in the year 2020 everyone will be walking around with a Google Glass 2.0 strapped to their head, but at this juncture it doesn't seem very likely.