Google Glass: Future of Smartphones?
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The publicity behind Google Glass, Google's latest gadget that allows users to check email, send messages and other functions from a pair of eyeglasses, is gaining momentum. However, the hype surrounding Google Glass' 2014 release also begs a lot of questions. Will it ever be affordable? Are they going to make it look cooler? How durable will it be? What are the long-term plans? That's just a beginning of what consumers want to know.

What is Google Glass?

Google Glass is the latest Google gadget. The device, built into a pair of eyeglasses, allows users to take photographs, record videos, send emails and perform other computer functions using voice commands (and possibly eye commands). It was released to developers in February and is scheduled to reach consumers in 2014.

Challenges for Google regarding Glass include making it available to the more than 200 million American who wear prescription eyeglasses as well as offering Google Glass in a wider array of less "geeky" frames. Google is negotiating with trendy eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, according to CNet.com. This deal can also help address concerns that Google Glass is too dorky for mainstream use, by offering the technology in a variety of "cooler" frames.

Google Glass could present new privacy and social etiquette issues. For instance, do you wear Google Glass into a public rest room? Does wearing Google Glass in a public place constitute an invasion of privacy, considering users can photograph and film those around them without the subjects' being aware. Anticipating this dilemma, one Seattle bar has already banned patrons from donning Google Glass, according to CNET.com.

How Google Glass could Effect TV

Though still in its infancy, Google Glass has the potential to challenge existing TV programming. Some news publications, including Chicago Now, speculate that Google Glass could be a good match for live sports broadcasts, one of the few types of TV that doesn't fit well with DVR technology. Concerts and other live events could also find a Google Glass audience.

With the new opportunities that Google Glass gives to TV broadcasting, it wouldn’t be surprising to see TV companies offering Google Glass packages, in addition to ones for HD or premium channels. Currently, a basic TV subscription runs about $30 per month, according to Install-direct-tv.com, but sports and other live shows that offer feeds from (and to) Glass wearers could become an option.

Google Glass: The Basics

The initial price of Google Glass is expected to be around $1,500 a pair (with clear glass lenses). However, as the device hits the consumer market, the price is likely to decrease dramatically. Although, the device is currently only available to developers, it is expected to hit the consumer market sometime in 2014, according to Business Insider.

The jury is still out about whether Google Glass is an expensive new toy or a game-changing piece of technology. One CNET editorial writer opts for the former. Others compare Google Glass to the much-hyped, less-purchased Segway. One study, cited by Forbes, gives Google Glass only a 37 percent chance of surviving in the marketplace for five years or more.

The Bottom Line

While Google Glass is a cool gadget, it's much too pricey and experimental right now for mainstream consumption. However, never count out Google. This product bears watching.