Google Glass: $1500 to buy… $80 to make?

Share

Google Glass recently went on sale to the general public in America for $1500 – which is a bit beyond the reach of normal consumers. Given the hype around the futuristic gadget, you could be forgiven for thinking that surely it must be made from alien blood and unicorn tears, right? Turns out, things are a lot more ordinary.

teardown.png

According to Teardown.com, who bought a Glass and took it to pieces, the cost of all of the components add up to little over $80.

In fact, in examining all of the parts they found that on the inside Glass is essentially similar to a middle of the road Android handset with not too many specialised components – so why is it so expensive? Are Google making an absolute killing on the profit margins?

Not quite.

teardown2.png

Whilst Teardown have totted up the price of manufacturing everything, this fails to take into account, well, all of the other stuff: like distribution, marketing and crucially software. As Glass is in an entirely new product category and the leader in its field then the research & development costs are going to be huge. Whilst it may not take much to put together the pieces, making something that works on the hardware and has the nice user experience we’ve come to expect is a much bigger challenge. And this is something that Google will be keen to recoup whilst they’re still the only game in town for a wearable heads-up display.

teardown3fix.png

What’s also surprising is – as mentioned – how low powered the device is. There’s only 1GB of RAM (2GB is standard in the latest phones), and the display can only manage a resolution of 640×360. Similarly, the operating system on the inside is the now aging Android Ice Cream Sandwich – two iterations behind the KitKat on the latest Android phones. And the battery is only 570mAh (2000+ is more common in new phones).

So could this teardown point towards a fairly quick upgrade to a “HD” Google Glass after the first generation proof of concept has proved successful?

James O’Malley