Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) says it will release Glass to the public for “about a day” next week. The company says it “accelerated” the announcement since a report from tech site The Verge let “the cat out of the bag.”
Google’s voice-activated wearable computer is currently available only to a hand-picked group of Glass Explorers, but the company says it will take orders from U.S. residents next Tuesday for about 24 hours. Google says it considers the promotion an extension of its Glass Explorer program, suggesting the wearable – still priced at $1,500 plus tax – is still in the testing phase, and not ready for wide release.
By widening its base of product testers, Google probably is looking for more feedback on Glass to prepare it for full consumer release. Chairman Eric Schmidt told the BBC last April that thousands of Google Glass models “will be in use by developers over the next months, and then, based on their feedback, we’ll make some product changes,” noting that a full release was “probably a year-ish away.” Based on that timeline, consumers could expect an official release of Google Glass by the end of 2014.
Google will include a sunglass shade, or one of its newly announced prescription frames, along with the wearable computer. The company announced a partnership with Luxottica in March to “design, develop and distribute a new breed of eyewear for Glass,” but said full details of the partnership would not be disclosed for some time.
Google first accepted 2,000 Glass pre-orders at its annual developer’s conference, I/O, in 2012. Later that year it held a promotion asking consumers what they would do with Glass, releasing 8,000 more headsets. Google has accepted new requests into the Explorer program since, and have a waiting list for the device.
Here is the full text of Google’s announcement:
Whoops. So... we’d planned to post this next week, but it looks like the cat is now out of the bag. Over the past several months, we’ve been trying out different ways to expand the Explorer program. Some of you signed up at Google I/O, some told us what you would do #ifihadglass, some were referred by a friend, some joined through their school or university. Our Explorers are moms, artists, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better. But every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we’re trying something new.
That’s why next Tuesday, April 15th, we’ll be trying our latest and biggest Explorer Program expansion experiment to date. We’ll be allowing anyone in the US* to become an Explorer by purchasing Glass at http://www.google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one/ for $1500 + tax. Any Explorer signing up during that period will also get a choice of either their favorite frame or shade for no additional charge. The site will only be open for a limited time, so mark your calendar. We can’t wait to welcome our new Explorers.
*That’s right, the Explorer Program is still US-only. Sorry :( We’re just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries.
Follow Reporter Thomas Halleck on Twitter @tommylikey