Google to stop consumer sales of Glass to redesign device

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Google to stop consumer sales of Glass to redesign device
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HELSINKI, FINLAND - DECEMBER 01: A guest uses a Google glass during the Eurobest festival of creativity at Finlandia Hall on December 1, 2014 in Helsinki, Finland. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Eurobest)
SACRAMENTO, CA - MARCH 3: Sacramento Kings dance member warms up with Google glass against the New Orleans Pelicans at Sleep Train Arena on March 3, 2014 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY PASCALE MOLLARD-CHENEBENOIT A woman wears Google glass as she visits an exhibition dedicated to the work of French artist Niki de Saint Phalle at the Grand Palais in Paris on November 6, 2014. At the Niki de Saint Phalle exhibition in Paris, visitors can use Google glass to listen to commentary through an earpiece as images are projected on a small virtual screen whilst looking at artworks. AFP PHOTO / JOEL SAGET -- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE, MANDATORY MENTION OF THE ARTIST UPON PUBLICATION, TO ILLUSTRATE THE EVENT AS SPECIFIED IN THE CAPTION -- (Photo credit should read JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images)
Barcelona's Brazilian guard Marcelo Huertas shoots as he wears Google glasses during a test prior to the Euroleague basketball match FC Barcelona vs Laboral Kutxa at the Palau Blaugrana stadium in Barcelona on April 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
French junior minister for Transport, Maritime Economy and Fishery Frederic Cuvillier tries on 'Google Glass' while visiting the 'Transports Publics 2014' European Mobility Exhibition in Paris on June 10, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ERIC PIERMONT (Photo credit should read ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images)
Attendees wearing Google Inc. Glass view new Samsung Electronics Co. Gear Live watches running the latest edition of Android software during the Google I/O Annual Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Google Inc. unveiled a new version of its Android software for smartphones and other devices as it battles Apple Inc. to be the foundation for mobile technology. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 09: Host Tom Bergeron tries out a pair of Google Glasses at The Television Academy's An Evening Of Laughs With 'America's Funniest Home Videos' at Leonard H. Goldenson Theatre on April 9, 2014 in North Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Google will stop selling its Internet-connected eyewear to consumers until the company can develop a more polished and affordable version that's less likely to be viewed as a freakish device.

The sales moratorium on the nearly 2-year-old "Explorer" edition of Google Glass goes into effect Jan. 19. The decision announced Thursday coincides with Glass' spin-off from the secretive Google X lab where it was invented.

Glass will now operate in a division steered by veteran marketing executive Ivy Ross, whose past experience includes stints at fashion-conscious companies such as Gap Inc. and Calvin Klein. Ross will report to Tony Fadell, who played an instrumental role in the design of Apple's iPod and now runs the smart-appliance maker Nest Labs that Google Inc. bought for $3.2 billion last year.

Google will still sell a version of Glass to companies that have found uses for the device in their offices, stores and factories. The Mountain View, California, company still plans to come back with a new consumer model of Glass, but hasn't set a timetable for the next release.

By the time Glass returns to the consumer market, it will face more competition from other wearable computing devices, including a line of smart watches that Apple Inc. plans to begin selling this spring.

In a Thursday blog post, Google likened the Explorer edition of Glass to an infant learning how to walk.

"Well, we still have some work to do, but now we're ready to put on our big kid shoes and learn how to run," Google said.

Glass looks like a pair of spectacles except the Explorer edition didn't contain any actual glass in the frame. Instead, the device has a thumbnail-sized screen attached above the right eye so a user can check email, see Twitter posts or get directions without having to grope for a phone.

Google began distributing the $1,500 device to computer programmers and about 10,000 randomly selected people in 2013 with the hope that the test group would come up with new ideas for using Glass and drum up enthusiasm for a hands-free way to remain connected to the Internet.

Although it generated plenty of intrigue and publicity, Glass struggled to win widespread acceptance. Part of the aversion stemmed from a design that made it look like a weird contraption rather than a hip accessory. Glass also turned off many people for its potential to intrude on people's privacy by secretly taking pictures or video.

"It is a perfect stalker's tool," said John Simpson, privacy project director of Consumer Watchdog, a group has been among Google's most strident critics. "It's difficult to see how they solve that."

About half of all consumers had privacy concerns about Glass, according to data compiled by Forrester Research.

The price also limited the demand for Glass when Google began selling the device to all comers last May.

"Google needs to construct a consumer image for the product, and deal with privacy concerns if they want it to be mass market," said Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder.

Google hasn't disclosed how many units of the Glass' Explorer version were sold. The company says about 100 businesses, including Hewlett-Packard, Boeing and Taco Bell, are testing Glass as a tool for work.

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