Google raises a glass to itself

The first Google Glass devices have already started rolling out the developers and tech enthusiasts, but public availability is expected some time next year. 

IHS predicts Google Glass shipments will reach 124,000 this year, but the adoption rate will accelerate by 250 percent in 2014. Between now and 2016 Google is expected to sell 9.4 million units, with sales hitting 6.6 million in 2016.

It doesn’t sound like much compared to shipments of flagship smartphones, but bear in mind that Google Glass costs $1,500 and it is still an unproven concept. At $1,500 Google won’t find many takers, so it is safe to assume that it is targeting a much lower price point for 2014 and beyond. IHS also pointed out that apps will be crucial to the widespread adoption of Google Glass.

“Hardware is much less relevant to the growth of Google Glass than for any other personal communication device in recent history. This is because the utility of Google Glass is not readily apparent, so everything will depend on the appeal of the apps,” said Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IHS. “This is why the smart glass market makes sense for a software-oriented organization like Google, despite the company’s limited previous success in developing hardware. Google is betting the house that developers will produce some compelling applications for Glass.”

This is good news for Google, as it has proven time and again that it simply can’t do hardware.

However, IHS also came out with a much more cautious, even pessimistic forecast. Under this outlook, app development will be limited, relegating Google Glass to the role of an overpriced wearable camera rather than a proper augmented reality system. In that case, shipments will reach just one million through 2016.