A new teardown of Google Glass rebuffs an earlier claim that the device hardware was worth under $100. While the new estimate of $132.47 for the hardware alone sounds a bit more reasonable, it’s nonetheless leaving quite a bit of the $1,500 asking price in the lurch. Are we paying for Google’s project, or are these tear-downs way off?
IHS, which provides clever teardowns for notable handsets now and then, were the ones responsible for the recent treatment. In their assessment, the “head band” actually costs more than the display; the chipset check in with a sub-$10 price tag. They also point out, appropriately, that the parts are circa 2012, with the spec sheet having changed little if at all since the first run.
The Glass frame, or “head band” as we put it, runs $22. The liquid crystal display was found to cost $20, and the Texas Instrument OMAP4 chipset runs about $8.85. IHS allows another $20 for manufacturing, bringing the total to $152.47.
We’ll first point to the specs being dated as reason to fault this number. Inflation since 2012 is pretty slight, but in scouring older posts about the processor in question, we found several listings in 2012 at $15, and as high as $30. Even on the lower side of that scale, the processor alone was priced at double what the teardown two years later suggests.
IHS is also assuming a run of 50,000 Glass, which is another reason to doubt these numbers. If a single run of Glass occurred, it was likely when the Explorer program opened up, or really months ahead of that. A run of 50,000 “devices” is pretty slight, so manufacturing cost would likely have been a touch heavier than the $20 or so IHS is allotting.
Packaging for Glass is custom, too. Those boxes Google places their premium hardware into doesn’t come cheap. A teardown also doesn’t appreciate for staffing at fittings, research and development, or other metrics not appreciated when considering the cost of hardware. Google tells Re/Code “While we appreciate another attempt to estimate the cost of Glass, this latest one from IHS, like teardown.com’s, is wildly off. Glass costs significantly more to produce.”
“Produce” is a clever word, and allows Google to hide behind several metrics to defend the cost of Glass. While it’s true teardowns don’t take everything into account, they also show that the public wants an answer from Google as to why Glass costs so much. That’s an answer we’ll likely never get.