Google Glass evaluated at about $80 in parts – does it really matter?

by: Jonathan FeistMay 1, 2014

Great news for anyone waiting for an official retail release of Google Glass, it shouldn’t cost you $1500. According to a recent teardown, TechInsights says the value of physical parts to build Google Glass is a mere $79.78.

Let us get things straight right away, we’re talking about the cost for the physical parts themselves only. This does not include any building time or materials, design time and certainly covers none of Google’s now 2+ years of R&D on the project. Don’t forget that a working prototype of Glass was kicking around back at Google I/O in 2012.

Cost Chart Google Glass

The Explorer edition of Glass has been available to developers and a very limited set of other select individuals since early 2013 for a whopping $1500. The promise was always that a consumer edition would be made available for roughly the cost of an average smartphone. Interesting enough, that promise was made when the average off-contract smartphone was rather pricier than the Moto G‘s and OnePlus One‘s kicking around today. With an $80 evaluation of parts, consumers can now realistically dream of Glass becoming a truly affordable wearable.

How long until Glass is available?

This is an important topic. What if I were to tell you that Google Glass will never hit the market? Don’t worry, it’s just a question. However, we’re looking at a product that has undergone years of development, yet has not physically changed in the last long, long while. It does frequently receive software updates, which is more than we can say for many smartphones on the market, but remains fragmented from vanilla Android and the new Android Wear.

On the flip side, Google recently opened Glass sales to all US residents for just one day in April. The price remained at $1500, but Google did manage to ship a few units, presumably including the one that was torn down for this report. The $80 evaluation should not be too surprising, considering the required capabilities of the components. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that a Google spokesman has called the cost estimate “absolutely wrong,” with no further comment. We wonder how much that is an attempt to save face for charging $1500 for Glass, and how much it simply reflects that today’s prices for the components are drastically less expensive than they were when Google first purchased them.

What do you think, is Glass a dream project, or will we all be able to buy one for under $300 by the end of the year? How much longer do we wait before too little becomes too late and we all lose interest?

  • This is not surprising. A high-end smartphone costs $250 to make. Prism projector aside, there’s no component inside Glass that’s special or expensive.
    My guess is Google is keeping the $1500 price tag to ensure that the initial user base is enthusiasts/professionals. They build an influencer base and they avoid negative feedback from people that are not so vested into it.

    • Shark Bait

      I think you right, they don’t want every one to have one at this point, only people that actually understand what it means to be still in development.

      Looking at this BOM let’s hope they bring it to market for around $150 . that would be incredible!!!!

    • Paco Inurreta

      Would be real nice that after the “developing fase” they return a % of what it was paid in the first place.

      It would really suck for those who got them in the “grey market” for more than $1500 lol

    • Mike Reid

      Glass just isn’t ready for the mass market. Smart wearables in general aren’t ready. New paradigms.

      Releasing it now in this state would look really bad on Google.

      I agree with the Googler who said the estimate is “absolutely wrong”. Some people who look only at the HW parts price for ALL smart devices see pricing “conspiracies” everywhere. Every phone OEM would be making profits (instead of only Samsung) if they were all selling $250 phones for $500.

      The Chinese cut every pricing corner they can, and you don’t see them making inroads in “The West”. Good luck with cheap $80 of parts Mediatek tablets selling for $110 at Walmart.

      And it’s not the carriers. Enough of us don’t buy subsidized that the market is efficient. Look at the prices charged by HongKong EBay sellers of phones. That’s about as cheap as brand name phones get.

  • Stas

    Of course Google glass will become the next new source of company’s revenue because glass technology is new horizon for ad selling. And that kind of ads will cost more (what means more profits for Google) compare with classic – web based or mobile. But this implementation is still around two-four years ahead from now in case of high demand for devices.

    • Mur

      People really have to understand that just because Google started out with ads doesn’t mean everything it does is for ads. They can very well make money of hardware.

      • MrMagoo

        I think we all know the $1500 here and there for Google for the small number of people that have Google Glass, is not going to really impact the company as a whole in any way. This is a multi-Billion dollar company, the $1500 price tag is well maybe a kickstarter of sorts. It’s to pay for the people working on the project and prototypes, different hardware configurations they have come up with that we’ve never seen, the sales people out there trying to hook up with devs. All these things cost money, and lots of it.

  • Benjamin Pavel

    The reason why Glass costs that much is because it covers FREE upgrades…as few months ago people got invite to get the upgraded Glass for free…so 1500$ covers to be in Explorer program, so whenever there is some kind of a upgrade or whatever you get it for free as it’s already covered. :)

  • Mohammed Taher

    i guess the only reason is that the dont want to sell much at present so after its stable enoufe then the price can drop down

  • Jayfeather787

    Take a zero off the original price, and that seems a lot better. That way, Google would make money, and it wouldn’t cost as much as 4 Nexus 5’s.

  • eric Soulliage

    they killed it for me when for a week i’ve been receiving email saying that i had been invited to the explorer program and then on that day i was able to purchase , sorry USA only , now i read they wanted to charge me 1500$ for 80$ worth on hardware ? lol google , maybe i’ll look t alternatives