Can Tony Fadell Save Google Glass? Probably Not

Good Ol' Google Glass is "graduating" from an experimental project at Google[x] Labs, according to a blog post from the Glass team. Though that team didn't directly announce it, reports from CNBC and The Verge say that the product is being taken over by Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest and the creator of Apple's iPod.

At the same time, sales of Google Glass are being halted as Google ends the Explorer Program, which put the device in the hands of Glassholes. The program officially ends on January 19th.

In other words, Google Glass needs saving, and CNBC characterized the "graduation" as a "reorganization." Ivy Ross, the current head of Google Glass, will remain with the product, but he will now report to Tony Fadell. But can Mr. Fadell save the device? Maybe, but I personally doubt it.

"Early Glass efforts have broken ground and allowed us to learn what’s important to consumers and enterprises alike," Mr. Fadell told The Verge. "I’m excited to be working with Ivy to provide direction and support as she leads the team and we work together to integrate those learnings into future products. I remain fully committed to Nest and am equally excited about our work there, which continues to accelerate."

Uh huh.

It's funny. Google Glass was heralded as proof that Google was out-innovating Apple. Google Glass was the future of wearables. Google Glass was the Jesus Device that would transform the way we live more than any invention since the Segway.

Why, whole cities would be designed around it as we all followed Robert Scoble into the shower with our Google Glass strapped to our eyeballs. The world's information would be a blink away, and everything we saw would be immediately added to our Google profiles, to be marketed and sold to the highest bidder. What a glorious future would be Google Glass!

All that hype. Where did it go? Most of it evaporated in a puff of logic as lots of folks realized they didn't want to be permafilmed by Glassholes. I suspect the rumor juggernaut that was Apple Watch also served to suck the interest out of Google Glass. As interest in Apple Watch rose, interest in Google Glass declined.

But can Tony Fadell make something of it? I'll repeat my answer above. Maybe. In fact, if anyone can, it's Mr. Fadell. His track record with the iPod and Nest is outstanding. He gets simplicity. He seems to have an intuitive understanding of how to cut directly to the heart of how people want to use technology.

Maybe that's what Google Glass needs. Or maybe what it really needs is a completely new paradigm. There is no doubt that our future will involve access to the kind of information Google Glass promised, but I suspect it will need an intermediary* that can better control access to that information. It also needs to not require a pair of glasses.

We are far and farther from the technologies necessary for either of those things to be possible. Because of that, I doubt even Tony Fadell can save Google Glass.

*Mason Truman agrees.