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Will New Google Glass Apps Lure Business Users?

Will New Google Glass Apps Lure Business Users?
May 15, 2014 3:12PM

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A key question is whether these travel-related apps in Google Glass add any value over the same apps on, say, a smartphone. Or, if the price doesn't come down, whether there will be much of a market for the device among regular business users. And there's the fact that Glass -- essentially, a face computer -- may not be well received in the public.

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Google Glass, the enhanced reality wearable, is clearly finding popularity in medicine, and among developers and trend-setters. But does it have value for business users?

This week, several new apps suggest ways in which business users might employ the device, assuming for the moment a price far south of the current $1,500 sticker.

The apps -- from Foursquare, Tripit and OpenTable -- might be useful to, say, a business traveler.

Travelers can organize their airline, hotel and restaurant reservations using Tripit, and can map their directions to each. Foursquare allows users to check in at such businesses as restaurants or stores, and OpenTable helps a user to make restaurant reservations.

Better than Smartphone Versions?

There are also several existing apps that might be helpful to business users, like Words Lens' astounding ability to translate text signs, or Field Trip to help identify places of interest.

"Whether you're trying to find your gate at the airport, the best coffee shop in Austin or a reservation for two in New York City," Google posted on its blog, "Glass has you covered."

Of course, one key question is whether these apps in Glass add any value over the same apps on, say, a smartphone. Or, if the price doesn't come down, whether there will be much of a market for the device among regular business users. And there's the fact that Glass -- essentially, a face computer -- may not be well received in, say, bars, restaurants or ordinary offices.

Meanwhile, Glass is making news on other fronts. The University of California at Irvine School of Medicine announced this week that it will now integrate Glass units into its medical curriculum, becoming the first medical school to do so.

And the tech giant is selling the device again. On Wednesday, it announced in a blog post that "anyone in the U.S. can buy the Glass Explorer Edition, as long as we have it on hand." It's still in beta, of course, and still costs $1,500.

Glass Teardown

And that's a lot of profit for Google. IHS released a new product teardown of the device this week, taking it apart and calculating its raw cost for materials and build. The total cost to make: an estimated $152.47.

IHS did point out that that it could be somewhat off, since there may be large engineering and software development costs built into each unit's price that it can only guess. Teardown.com had similarly tried to estimate the actual cost of the product, which it had ballparked in April as being $79.78.

"When you buy Google Glass for $1,500," IHS Senior Director Andrew Rassweiler told The Wall Street Journal, "you are getting far, far more than just $152.47 in parts and manufacturing." For both breakdowns, parts from Texas Instruments constituted a large portion of the components.

Google said in April that Teardown.com's estimate was inaccurate, and has similarly dismissed the IHS estimate this week.

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