Forbes released an article today that estimated the production cost of Glass. After reviewing the Glass Teardown from Catwig, Forbes believes a cost of $200 to be an “incredibly safe bet”. They estimate the Glass prism to cost no more than $30 to produce, and most other components are quite similar to those in a smart phone.
So why did we pay $1500 when all signs indicate the mass-market sale price will be more like $349? Android Authority speculates that the $1500 price tag for the Glass Explorer Edition was designed to make sure “the only people buying Glass are those who are planning to develop for the platform”. I believe there is another reason. I think the early edition price tag, and the highly publicized “ifIhadGlass” competition, were all part of Google’s marketing strategy.
Those of us who attended Google I/O will remember that, even after signing up for Glass, we were still not allowed to look through Glass and experience the product first-hand. We had to wait another 7+ months before we even had a chance to use Glass at the Glass Foundry events in New York and San Francisco, and that was only open to some of the applicants. The rest of us had to wait another 3+ months before we could even hold this amazing product in our hands! All of this anticipation made for terrific marketing! It gave people time to infuse their hopes and dreams into the device, to see it for what it could do more than for what it did do.
Then came #ifIhadGlass in February, and tens of thousands applied for the opportunity to spend $1500 on a beta product. #IfIhadGlass was trending for days. Some people put crazy amounts of work into their applications. Other people made quick sarcastic responses. Winners were chosen randomly. Life isn’t fair… especially in the Googleverse.
But in the end, everyone was talking about how everybody wanted Glass. Great marketing!
Those of us with Glass can tell you, your life will change when you wear this product. You are an instant celebrity. I am now able to recognize that sparkle in the eye, that gleam of excitement from someone who has actually seen Glass in real life for the first time. They don’t even have to ask anymore. I just take it off, hand it over, and start with the demo. I have become an non-commission traveling salesman whenever I go out. Glass Explorers, myself included, give lectures on Glass to packed rooms at tech meetups and people line up for a chance to have their picture taken with my Glass. Did I mention, great marketing!
But then comes the creep factor. Are those Glassholes trying facial recognition on me? Are they looking at porn when they’re talking to me? So what does Google do? They forbid facial recognition and pornography apps on Glass. They silence any note that sounds slightly disharmonious in the great media chorus.
But Google, where’s that open-market, anything goes attitude that got Android to the top?
It’s not about morality, it’s about marketing!
Android was competing in an existing market. There was nothing new about the smartphone. Android didn’t have to sell the concept, they just had to set themselves apart from their competition.
Glass is new. People aren’t comfortable with it yet. Google has to do whatever they can to minimize the creep factor and make Glass feel desirable to everyone. And by making it hard to get, they’ve made people either lust for it or hate it. And the haters might just be jealous.
Google wants to put their name on the next step of the technological evolution, and success in this world is all about marketing!