Since its debut in 2012, Google Glass always faced a strong headwind. Even on celebrities it looked, well, dorky. The device itself, once released in the wild, was seen as half-baked, and developers lost interest. The press, already leery, was quick to dog pile, especially when Glass's users quickly became Glass's own worst enemy.
Many early adopters who got their hands on the device (and paid $1,500 for the privilege under the Google Explorer program) were underwhelmed. "I found that it was not very useful for very much, and it tended to disturb people around me that I have this thing,” said James Katz, Boston University’s director of emerging media studies, to MIT Technology Review.
News on Thursday that Google is re-organizing its Glass team and shutting down its Google Explorers program brings Glass's troubled debut to a merciful end. But the core idea behind Glass, a hands-free way to look at a screen, could have been appealing, even if wearing it out and about was always going to be initially off-putting. People will put up with a certain amount of social shame for convenience (witness the rise of Bluetooth headsets in the mid-'00s).
But Google Glass wasn't just a way to keep a screen in front of your face all the time; it was also a way to record everything going in front of you. And it turns out very few people are willing to be viewed as walking, talking invasions of privacy.