DUBAI // It is proudly displayed in a sealed glass cabinet, safely out of reach like a priceless diamond.
And with a price tag of Dh10,000, out of reach is where Google Glass is likely to remain for most.
“I’ve always wanted one since reading about it for years,” said Ziad Khoury, from Lebanon, who spotted the must-have tech toy in the Dubai Mall branch of Virgin Megastores. “But Dh10,000 is a bit much. I’ll wait for the price to go down.”
Virgin say Google Glass is popular, but refuse to say how many they have actually sold.
“UAE residents are tech savvy and always at the forefront of technology, especially when it comes to anything mobile related,” a spokesman said. “We’ve had an overwhelming response from customers when we first launched the Google Glass and the sales continue to grow.
“Our challenge is constantly stocking a full range of colours but we almost never sell out.”
While the view through the Google Glass lens may be clear, the source of the shop’s stock is not. Virgin say they receive supplies directly from Google. Google say they do not.
Aido.com, another Dubai company that sells Google Glass at a slightly less eye-watering Dh6,999, says it buys from a third party supplier in the United States, but refuses to say which one.
Google says the product is still in a testing and development phase and it does not sell directly to retailers, even in the US and United Kingdom, where it is being tested. Any products for sale in shops are from the grey market, the company said.
“We are currently focused on trialling the Glass Explorer programme in the US and UK with no plans to expand to other countries at this time,” a spokesman said.
Google Glass is sold in the US for US$1,500, just over Dh5,500. In August last year adverts on the classifieds website Dubizzle offered it for Dh45,000 at a time when it was available for developers only.
Thomas Shambler, editor of the technology magazine Stuff, said consumers should beware.
“The device is still in beta and is more a proof of concept than a finished product,” he said. “Users should be cautious, even if they understand that this is not a finished product.
“Google Glass is meant to be used via voice control, but support is limited. As with most voice-friendly technology it’s built to support western accents.
“Sales of Google Glass in the US are being seen as a step towards a forthcoming consumer push, probably with a second version of Google Glass. It’s expected to get a bump in specs, as well as a serious drop in price. So paying over the odds – almost double the price – might come back to bite consumers in future.”
It is not clear how the law affects the product. Pinhole or hidden cameras are banned as it is illegal to take a picture or video of someone without their consent.
In May, Dubai Police said they were testing Google Glass, and the force’s smart technology department has developed two apps for it.
The first would enable officers to capture an image of a traffic offence in progress, with the picture going straight to the police system. The second would help them to identify wanted vehicles.