According to Teardown.com the accurate Bill of Materials (BOM) of Google’s Glass is $79.78 or around 5% of its retail price.
Before anyone jumps to conclusions that Google is ripping off customers – a fact that they vehemently deny - let us be clear that:
- Google Glass is a combination of hardware and software
- It is bleeding edge (earlier than leading edge) technology that cost a lot to develop. Google's Mirror Application Programing Interface (API) is remarkably comprehensive and complex
- It is relatively unique
- And it is has been sold in limited numbers mainly to developers – sorry ‘Explorers’ with the attendant support costs that entails
Conclusion - $1500 may be what the market can bear but it probably has cost Google a lot more than what they have recouped – Google is entitled to make money.
Teardown is doing Google a favour by debunking a few myths. The computing hardware inside Glass is not ‘white man’s magic’ rather it’s a relatively low powered system on a chip (SoC*), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 5MP camera, 570mAH battery, 5MP camera, microphone, bone conduction speaker, and a 640x360 transparent display.
*The SoC is actually several chips that provide Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Accelerometer, compass and gyroscope, touch, audio all controlled by the older Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich. Do not forget the Titanium glasses frame and USB charger, cable and soft case.
I recommend you read Scott Torborg and Star Simpson's independent tear down and images herein are reproduced with permission.
The good news – not so much for Google – is that its competitors will eventually be able to make similar specified wearables and sell them for a fraction of the price – if they can ever get around Google’s patents! Simple – licence Glass from Google or in Samsung’s case use Tizen!