Dear Google Glass, bye for now (and maybe forever)

Technically Incorrect: Google insists that Google Glass is moving onward and upward. But in withdrawing it from sale, isn't the company admitting that people really didn't want it?

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Google's Sergey Brin used to love his Glass. Now he seems not to wear it in public. TED/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Some revolutions fizzle.

They begin with declarations and fanfares. They end in being mere bunions on the world's foot.

This may well be the fate of Google Glass.

Yes, Google tried this week to make it seem as if it was onward and upward. Yes, Glass is going to be withdrawn from sale on Monday (people had been able to buy the "Explorer" edition of the high-tech specs for $1,500). Now, however, Nest's Tony Fadell will be in charge of the project , with a new version of Glass expected later this year.

At heart, though, the thing we knew as Glass, the thing we recognized as being worn by Glassholes, is no more.

How can this be?

Oddly, Glass began quite well. In launching it, Google recognized that the product should appeal to real people who only want gadgets that can contribute to some form of real life.

However, the exclusivity of the Explorer program, the abject design of the product and its hefty price tag meant that the last people who'd be wearing Glass down life's catwalk were real people.

Instead, too many nerds -- the sort whose sense of 'falutin-ness was more exalted than their common sense - wore Glass in public and insisted upon their supposed rights.

People didn't take kindly to someone looking like a borg and potentially filming them eating their chicken soup or snogging with their loved one.

The more that Glass-wearers protested that they were the advanced party of the enlightened, the more they became Glassholes.

Even Google begged them to stop. It actually used the term "Glasshole" in a rearguard attempt to persuade its Explorers that Ferdinand Magellan might not have been quite such a self-righteous halfwit.

Glassholes were asked to leave bars and restaurants. One restaurant owner called a Glass-wearer a ' man-child stinkin' up the joint.'" Glass (over-)enthusiasts even became embroiled in fights. They became objects of ridicule. When the "="" starts="" laughing="" at="" you"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="4e346d6b-d327-4b8f-8292-a9c370ece382" slug="the-daily-show-mercilessly-mocks-google-glass-wearers" link-text="" section="news" title="'Daily Show' mercilessly mocks Google Glass Explorers" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key"> , you have a problem.

The conclusion some observers reached was that this gadget was a spectacle without a cause.

The story of Glass, though, is also one of myopic psychology.

Why did Google think that people would, in their everyday lives, choose to wear Glass? With its 45-minute battery life and its astoundingly unaesthetic design, who would make so much of an effort for so little?

What was it for, other than to look a little silly and attract fascination and suspicion -- not in equal measure.

In launching its new watch, Apple knows that the design must be fashionable. It also surely fears that people might not need one more gadget to charge every night.

Glass didn't just need charging. It was ugly and it needed a reason. Some Explorers even complained it gave them a headache.

It may well be that the product will have many work uses in the future. It may be that it will become a niche tool specifically for those like surgeons who might appreciate information being in the corner of their eye, as they replace a heart or a kidney.

In the wider world, however, the very category of wearables is, as yet, unproven.

What's been proved about humanity is that its inherent vanity and laziness mean there has to be at least a good fashion reason or a compelling use in order for such a product to thrive.

Neither was the case with Glass.

It was Google's engineers showing how clever they are and expecting you not just to admire their cleverness, but to participate in it as well.

It didn't happen. More people recoiled than admired. More people wondered, I suspect, what the world was coming to.

It came to Google's great invention being less an idea ahead of its time, and more the expression of a few nerds who crave their version of a sci-fi world.

And the people said, no, thank you.