Google Glass Not Expected To Reach Europe For Years

google-glass-icon-300pxGoogle’s slow rollout of Google Glass, not to mention one big technical challenge, means it’ll be years before the device is available publicly in Europe.

That’s what two reports are saying after Google hosted a show-and-tell about Glass in Brussels on Monday. The company began a series of meetings with lawmakers and journalists, letting them see and use Glass for themselves.

The Wall Street Journal describes Monday’s event as being off-the-record, meaning journalists weren’t allowed to directly quote Google officials. But that report begins by saying that

Google Glass is years away from hitting the European market…

Likewise, a similar event recap on the European news site EurActiv repeats the same timetable without directly quoting Google:

… the device remains several years from market launch amidst ongoing privacy concerns.

Indeed, there are privacy concerns about Glass in Europe (as elsewhere); UK officials have already discussed banning Glass while driving. As I’ve written before here on Marketing Land, many of the Google Glass privacy concerns are overblown. But Google has to deal with them, and the varying privacy standards and bodies across the continent may slow that process down substantially.

But it’s not just about privacy. The WSJ goes on to say that there’s a big technical issue that will delay Glass’ availability in Europe: voice recognition.

In the U.S., some 12,000 “explorers” are currently allowed to see the world through Glass. No such program exists, or is currently planned, for Europe — partly because the device’s American-English voice-recognition software has trouble with foreign accents.

On the record, a Google spokesperson wouldn’t specifically answer if it’ll be years before Glass reaches Europe:

It’s simply too early to say when Glass will come to Europe. Right now, we’re focused on growing our Explorer program in the US ahead of a wider consumer launch in the US next year.

Glass may not reach Europe for a while, but Google’s road show goes on. The WSJ says similar show-and-tells are planned this week in Cologne (Germany) and Paris.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Google: Glass


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Marketing Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Geoff McQueen

    I’ve been using Glass for months now and speak with a fairly strong Australian accent. The voice recognition is brilliant, even in situations with a lot of background noise (like when riding my bike in SF’s constant and strong afternoon winds). Basically, I just don’t buy the premise that the speech recognition aspect is too tricky – privacy considerations though aren’t something I’d want to be trying to solve if I was Google.

  • fried_egg

    It may never come, it is a privacy and legal nightmare. Drivers may find they have insurance problems if they are shown to have had the device in the car during a crash but unable to prove they were not streaming something distracting to it. While labeling people as you walk about is something not even the police can easily do, yet this would enable it for “anyone” with some lax facebook, google+ identified picture database access. Hard to stop it coming, hard to allow it.

  • Gianluca Fiorelli

    Knowing how they are obtaining gazillion data from voice search also from European users, the “dialects accent” seems a pitiful excuse… what is true is that Google always comes very late in Europe with almost everything :)

  • Matt McGee

    How long have they been doing voice search in Europe, though? In the US, they started getting voice signals 6-7 years ago when they rolled out 800-Goog-411 (or whatever it was called).

  • Gianluca Fiorelli

    I was not precise. We can not via desktop search, but yes with the Google app on iOS (and probably on Android)

  • Oli us

    Android also recognise our languages pretty well, im not shure if it is all languages tho.
    Same with the gaming industries, i must admit, that providing a download link to an other continent, is almost impossible, like converting a number from usd to euro :D
    But it’s just 733 million people. I guess i’ll get it trough ebay/glass exporting tunnels/glasssmugglers.

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