- Google made its head-mounted Glass available to the general public for the first time on Tuesday
- The $1,500 devices were only available for one-day to people in the U.S.
- Google didn't release sales numbers, but said it sold out of the white model
Tuesday, for the first time, Google Glass was made available to the general public. As part of the one-day-only offering, anyone in the U.S. could buy the $1,500 face-mounted computers and get a free pair of glass or sunglass frames.
Google isn't sharing any sales numbers for the day, so it's difficult to divine how successful its first open-sales event has been. There were no reports of the Google Glass sales site crashing or customers being turned away.
Google did say it had sold out of the white, or "cotton" color of Glass. As of Tuesday afternoon there were still red, blue, gray and black options available.
"Wow, what a morning! We're happy to see so many new faces (and frames) in the Explorer Program," Google posted Tuesday to a Google+ page, announcing the unavailability of the Cotton model. The Explorer Program refers to early testers of the Glass connected eyewear, which is expected to become widely available by the end of the year.
Early on Wednesday Google posted an update saying, "All spots in the Explorer Program have been claimed for now, but if you missed it this time, don't worry. We'll be trying new ways to expand the Explorer program in the future."
A Google spokesperson later said in a statement, "While you can still access the site, Glass will be marked as sold out. We are leaving the site open so Explorers can still get any accessories they need."
The $1,500 headset was only available online, so there were no lines of buyers outside Google buildings. There also didn't appear to be any organized protests of the sale, despite isolated assaults against Glass wearers in this city amid recent tensions between longtime residents and a recent influx of tech-industry staffers.
Limited rollouts are a good way for Google to test the demand for its much hyped wearable product. Previously, the only people who could get Glass were developers or people who applied for the device through Google contests. (The Silicon Valley-based company is no stranger to creating hype for a new product. When it first rolled out Gmail 10 years ago, the service was invite only, making it seem exclusive.)
There are practical reasons Google has drawn out the product's launch. Glass is technically still in beta and it has been made significantly more consumer friendly since its launch a year ago. Since then, the hardware has been updated and on-staff designers created a line of sleek glass frames that can hold prescription lenses.
A day before opening up the online orders, Google announced the latest round of software updates for Glass, which will roll out later this week. The upgrade is expected to improve the device's battery life and make future software updates easier. There are minor tweaks related to photo sharing, submitting feedback to Google and voice commands. In response to dissatisfaction with the quality of video calls on Glass, Google has removed that feature until it can be improved.
Ben Farrell has wanted to buy Glass for a while but didn't pull the trigger until today. The San Francisco-based developer wants to wear the device while walking and running to get back into the habit of working out. He's also interested in developing location-based games for Glass, inspired by augmented reality games like Ingress.
"The annoying bit about designing games like this is having the user constantly looking down at their phone while trying to play the game in the real world," said Farrell.
On Twitter, many of the people expressing excitement about their orders for Glass, appeared to work in the tech industry. But some were just regular folks who wanted to see the technology's potential firsthand. Samantha Hutchison, a restaurant, hotel, and institutional management student in Texas, wants to find uses for Glass for students and travelers.
"I will be on the spring 2015 voyage of Semester at Sea and I hope to help develop the traveling apps to help capture my semester abroad," said Hutchison. (She's #teamshale.)
Nate Gilbert, a Glass customer who works for a rival company, thinks that the current price point is way too high. But that wasn't going to stop him from ordering a pair.
"I want to see how legit this is. What can it do," said Gilbert. "It seems like the future, but how close is it?"
There's also no way to tell if enthusiasm for Glass has been subdued by recent attacks on people wearing Glass in public or backlash over privacy concerns. Some fans might have decided to save their money and wait until Google releases the next version of Glass, expected by the end of the year. The next version of Glass will likely sport a reduced price tag.