Google Offers Some Glass Users a Chance to Invite a Pal

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-07-31

Google Offers Some Glass Users a Chance to Invite a Pal

Google apparently got a lot of people excited online in the last 24 hours by conducting an "experiment" that offered an unknown number of early Google Glass Explorer users a chance to invite a friend to also buy and use the eyewear-mounted computers.

The emailed offers were mentioned by several early Google Glass users on Google+, including posts by Ryan Mott, an application developer with VML, and by a woman who identifies herself as Kata Rina.

"Whoa! Remember Gmail invites?" wrote Mott on his July 30 post, which also featured an image of the "Invite a friend to explore Glass" email that he received from the Google Glass support team. "Now for Glass... how long before these hit eBay?"

The email from the Google team tells recipients that they can extend an offer to obtain a Glass unit to a friend who meets certain requirements. "Mostly we love sharing Glass with our friends, because adventures through Glass are more fun with others," says the email. "Here's your chance to invite one friend into the Glass Explorer Program. Complete this form and share Glass with a friend, funny face demo and all."

All invited friends must be a United States resident, 18 years of age or older and must be able to pick up their Glass unit, if they are accepted into the program, in either San Francisco, New York of Los Angeles, according to the email.

After receiving her own invitation on July 30, Kata Rina reposted the email she received on Google+ and asked, "Anyone else got this?"

Dozens of other Google+ users began responding to the posts by Mott and Rina, which eventually captured the attention of Sarah Price, a Google Glass community advocate who gave more details about emergence of the emailed Glass offers in a series of posts. "Hey everyone, just to clarify—this is an experiment we're trying," wrote Price. "This is an experiment, so some Explorers (early users of Google Glass, as they are known) got the email."

Some 6 hours later, the previously unannounced invitation program apparently came to an end that was just as sudden, according to a later post by Price. "Hey guys, confirmed, no more emails are going out right now for this experiment," she posted early on the morning of July 31.

Google did not immediately respond today to a request by eWEEK for further details about the program.

The invite-a-friend program certainly perked up interest from others who had read the posts by Mott, Rina and Price.

"Seriously though, I would sell my mother for a pair," posted Michael Anderson.

"Whoa... I can't wait to get an invite to share," wrote Keith I. Myers. "I know someone who really wants one."

Zack Ervin was philosophical about the invite-a-friend offer, which he called "a pretty smart move on Google's part. I imagine quite a few people who submitted for the original program, got the invite and never had the resources to participate. By asking existing Explorers to manage the invites, they are much less likely to reach dead ends. Someone, somewhere, ran the numbers and determined there was an X probability they would get a [higher percentage] purchase rate. It is HIGHLY unlikely that an existing Explorer would invite someone who does not have the means to participate. [Here's] hoping I have an Glass Angel out there somewhere, and Congrats to all of those who DO make it into the second round."

Google Offers Some Glass Users a Chance to Invite a Pal

Michael Anderson, meanwhile, said he was holding out hope to get an invite. "I still keep my phone within 3 feet of me at all times looking for a chance to get this," he wrote.

Teri Centner wrote that she was disappointed when the coveted email never appeared in her inbox. "I didn't get one," she posted, along with an unhappy face icon.

The first Google Glass units began shipping in April to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development, where it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were selected in a contest for the opportunity to buy their own early versions of Glass. In February, Google expanded its nascent test project for its Glass eyewear-mounted computer by inviting interested applicants to submit proposals for a chance to buy an early model and become part of its continuing development.

In March, Google also began notifying a pool of applicants who were selected to purchase the first 8,000 sets of Google Glass when they become available for real-world use and testing later this year by consumers. Those selected applicants have been receiving their units in waves.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.

Google Glass isn't yet ready for the general public, but sales of the devices are now expected to begin sometime later this year, according to a recent eWEEK report. That's at least months earlier than the 2014 retail debut the company had been targeting since last year, a source inside Google told eWEEK. The source would not elaborate on why the retail launch schedule is being moved up.

The concept of Google Glass has been a hit so far for Google, but some critics argue that they continue to be worried about the privacy implications surrounding the use of Glass, which is an eyewear-mounted computer that features a still camera, a video cam and other real-time recording features.

Glass units have been going through a series of monthly software updates that are adding new features and improvements. Earlier in July, Glass updates included improved and expanded voice command capabilities that allow Glass users to do more things without having to touch any Glass controls. The update was the third so far for Glass. In June, Glass got a big upgrade for its camera with the release of new software that now better detects low-light situations and includes automatic High-Dynamic-Range (HDR) photo-taking capabilities. The first software update for Glass arrived back in May when features such as incoming Google+ notifications for users were added.

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