ANALYST OUTFIT IHS has forecast that up to 10 million "smart glasses" including Google Glass eyewear will be shipped by 2016.
Google Glass spectacles raised privacy concerns long before units landed in the hands of developers, not to mention consumers. Now IHS has forecast that, despite tjhese concerns, 10 million "smart glasses" will be shipped by 2016.
Google Glass is the first publicly disclosed smart glasses but has yet to ship to developers let alone consumers, IHS' claim that 50,000 smart glasses were shipped in 2012 will be a surprise to many. However the firm seems to believe that shipment figures will pick up rapidly and in 2016 alone 6.6 million units will be shipped.
Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IHS said applications will be key to the popularity of Google Glass, with the hardware being of little importance. He said, "The applications are far more critical than the hardware when it comes to the success of Google Glass.
"In fact, the hardware is much less relevant to the growth of Google Glass than for any other personal communications device in recent history. This is because the utility of Google Glass is not readily apparent, so everything will depend on the appeal of the apps."
Ahadome said that it is smart glasses' requirement for software that makes the devices so attractive for software firms such as Google. However IHS said Google will face competition from existing manufacturers that already have wearable camera devices, such as Gopro.
Ahadome said the real benefits from smart glasses will come from software that presents information that isn't visible to the users when they see people, places or signs. IHS' sales forecast and analysis hints that Google could face stiff competition in this market as the barrier to entry isn't hardware but rather good software, which is a lower hurdle for market entry.
Earlier this week, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said Google Glass will hit the shelves in a year. Judging by Schmidts comments, it will be 2014 before sales of smart glasses really pick up and show whether IHS' forecast is realistic or not. µ