Earlier this week, I had an in-depth conversation with the man who created Google's Glass at Work program, Eric Johnsen. Glass at Work is a program that certifies Glass-related third-party apps and services for use in the enterprise.
We discussed a range of subjects related to smartglasses. And we talked about why Johnsen decided to leave Google this week to join Glass-at-Work-partner APX Labs, just as the initiative is getting off the ground. (Hint: It's not because he has no faith in Glass; just the opposite, really. Read the full Q&A here.)
Johnsen's answer to one specific question I asked kind of stuck in my mind. When I asked about the current $1,500-cost of Glass and whether or not he sees it as a limitation for the enterprise, he quickly shot back that, no, he doesn’t think cost is an issue at all.
Johnsen's (abbreviated) reply:
"I don't see cost as one of the first things that enterprises push back on. Consumers are a bit more sensitive on that. On the enterprise side, I don’t see that as a big issue."
I'm not sure I agree. I guess it largely depends on the size of the company, and the company's coffers.
I also asked for Johnsen's thoughts about the future of smartglasses and whether or not he thinks they are more suited for consumer or enterprise use.
"I think smartglasses will be used by both consumers and enterprises. They'll just evolve at different speeds, like any technology does… I think the consumer side will play out over time, with definite ways that consumers can use smartglasses. Personally, I love wearing Glass when I play golf and when I run and when I cycle."
I've been thinking about the cost of Glass, and other smartglasses, a lot. (Epson's Moverio smartglasses cost $700, a much more reasonable price, but the device has it's own unique drawbacks—an awkward tethered control brick, for example.)
I am a Glass Explorer, but my organization paid the $1,500 entrance fee (thanks, IDG) so I can, you know, actually know what I'm talking about when I write about Glass. I don't think I'd have paid $1,500 of my own scratch for it. In fact, I know I wouldn’t have.
For me, anything over a $1,000 seems like a significant technology investment. I could see paying $999.99 of my own cash for Glass…maybe. I'd say $500 seems like the sweet spot, but that's just a third of the current cost, and it could be a mite unreasonable at this point.
What do you think? What's the sweet spot for Google if it wants to sell Glass to the masses? Do you think Glass is just a novelty idea that will fizzle out over time? Or do you see it eventually becoming an enterprise-specific tool?