Cheap components in Google Glass point to much lower prices ahead

The eventual retail cost of Glass could be one-fifth of what early adopters ponied up for the augmented eyewear, one analyst claims.

Choking on the $1,500 price tag of Google Glass? Fear not: Google's augmented eyewear could be priced as low as $300 when it officially goes on sale to the public.

That's the conclusion from Jason Tsai at Topology Research Institute, after he looked at the component costs of the high-tech glasses. Despite the futuristic concept behind Google Glass, and the $1500 price tag for the early "Explorer" edition, the parts used to build the headset are cheap, China Post reports.

Consider, for instance, the display, which Tsai said is Glass' most expensive component. He expects Taiwan-based Himax Display to be the supplier, given that Google agreed to buy a 6.3% stake in the company last month. Tsai believes Himax's displays cost between $30 and $35.

As for the other components, GigaOM notes that the 8 GB of flash storage, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios inside Glass are similar to those of Motorola's MotoActv fitness device, which was sold for $200 but likely cost between $100 and $150 to make. Add in a camera and a speaker, and the final cost is still easily below $300.

Another point to consider: Several other companies are now trying to bring cheaper augmented reality glasses to market. Vuzix plans to sell its M100 headset this year for $500, and a company called GlassUp plans to release a $300 set of glasses in 2014.

So why is the price of Google Glass so high right now? GigaOM speculates that Google wants to create some exclusivity around the product, so that only the most dedicated users will take part in testing the device.

It's also worth noting that Google has dedicated "Glass Guides" on hand for tech support, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and Mountain View. Users pick up their devices at these offices and also go through lengthy tutorials with their Glass guides. This level of hands-on support surely doesn't come cheap, and it probably won't be part of the package when the final product goes on sale.

Assuming Glass does cost under $300 to build, the only question is how much of a profit margin Google wants to for the final product, and how willing the company is to slap its early adopters in the face. After all, a much lower price tag might feel like betrayal if you just spent $1500 for the Explorer edition.

Google hasn't said when the final version of Glass will be ready, but the company is shooting for broad availability in 2014.

This story, "Cheap components in Google Glass point to much lower prices ahead" was originally published by TechHive.

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