A researcher at Taiwan's largest private market research firm is of the considered opinion that when Google Glass goes on sale to the public, it will be sold for the low, low price of $299.
At a Taipei seminar on wearable devices, Jason Tsai of the Topology Research Institute told reporters of his estimate, based on the bill of materials (BOM) that he developed for the wearable wonder-specs, The China Post reports.
The most expensive component of Google's foray into gadgetry's Next Big Thing will be its display, which Tsai says will cost between $30 and $35, and which will likely be supplied by the Taiwanese company Himax Display. Last month, Google acquired a 6.3 per cent share of that company, which manufactures liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplays and controllers used to project images.
If Tsai is correct, that $299 will be a deep discount from the $1,500 that Google currently charges developers for Glass, which was previewed in April of last year, made available for developer-only preorders at the June 2012 Google I/O conference, and shipped onto their waiting faces this April. That "Project Glass Explorer" edition can currently be seen on Googlers' brows as they line up for one of the many big white buses that ferry them the 35 miles from San Francisco to the Mountain View Chocolate Factory.
Tsai's valuation is merely a BOM-based projection, of course – but if that $299 estimate is widely accepted by the pre-purchasing public, any significantly higher price could be a marketing challenge for Google when they do release Glass into the wild, which The China Post says may be as soon as late this year, but which other sources say will be in 2014.
Tsai's research group projects that wearable computing – think Glass, Apple's oft-rumored iWatch, more prosaic devices such as the pedometer-plus Fitbit Flex, and the like – will be big business in the not to distant future, with global sales rising from $1.2bn in 2011 to $18.3bn in 2018.
"We believe wearable devices will face the first wave of growth in the coming one to three years due to their innovative features," Tsai told The China Post, "and will then experience a rapid growth in the next phase when the market becomes more mature."
Global research firm IHS agrees. In a report published this April, they estimated that sales of "smart glasses" alone will rise to 6.6 million units in 2016, which would bring the total sales of the geek's delight to 9.4 million units between 2012 and 2016.
At $1,500 a pop, those estimates seem wildly optimistic. But for a mere three hundred bucks, Glass may indeed spark such a buying spree for the next nerderati must-have bit of shiny-shiny kit. ®