Home Your IT Mobility What sells for US$1500 but costs less than $80 in materials?

You may be tempted to say a ‘rip-off’ but the answer is Google’s very controversial Glass wearable computer.

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!

 

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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