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Google Glass: Triumph or turkey?

Google Glass
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Google Glass

It hasn't been as auspicious a year for Google Glass than the online giant would have liked.

Initially dubbed by enthusiasts as a Trojan horse for wearable technology, excitement has waned in 2014 with experts suggesting it has missed its opportunity to become a major "must have" consumer product.

First announced in 2012, Glass is a wearable computer with a head-mounted display that lets users search the web, use apps and respond to spoken instructions. Still in its prototype stage, the product is only available to "explorers" that sign up to help with its development. The hype it received at launch led the technology blog The Verge to declare in 2013 that there would be a "gold rush", with a flood of app developers desperate to create new software for the product.

But Google received a very public knockback in October when a report from industry website 9to5Google said that Twitter had dropped the development of its application that was supposed to launch on Glass. Attempts to contact Twitter by CNBC proved unsuccessful. Meanwhile, a clutch of smaller startups have also ended their focus on supplying new software for the technology.

"Glass had a chance to make itself into a fashion item but has missed that ambitious target. Now it will have to take the normal slow route while they get it sleek enough to look like normal glasses," Alex Foster, the head of global research at See Through, told CNBC via email.


Based in London and San Francisco, See Through is a piece of software aimed at helping advertising agencies via analytics gathered from Glass. The product is a notable shift away from Foster's previous project Race Yourself, a consumer focused fitness app for the Glass, which has now been put on hold.

Andy Ferrett, the founder of U.K.-based app developer Brightec has similar feelings to Foster. His prototype in his office suffers from "terrible" battery life, he told CNBC via email.

"There's currently no market for it," he said. "It's a niche business and I wouldn't put it down as a luxury product...the Apple iWatch will be much more of a luxury product."

There's also no added value from what you get on a smartphone, he added. His firm develops mobile applications and decided to advertise on its website that it could also create for Glass. Despite offering the service, the company has seen little interest – something that hasn't surprised him.

"I can't see it becoming a consumer product in the near future," he said.

Google said it didn't have anyone available to comment on this article when contacted by CNBC but said it was proud to announce that the number apps for the product had just hit the 100 mark. The online giant also recently sealed a tie-up with chipmaker Intel, a move that was first reported by the Wall Street Journal on December 1.

The newspaper claimed that the two tech giants were teaming up for a new version of Google Glass, citing people familiar with the matter, with a release date expected next year.

But until that point anyone wanting to see what all the fuss was about can buy their own pair from eBay, albeit at around $600 -- a significantly reduced price from the $1,500 charged by Google when it was available to the public for a limited period in May 2014.