Here is how Google killed a small smart glass maker after acquiring it


Google acquired North which made smart glasses similar to Google Glass on June 30, North decides to kill its flagship Focals smart glasses on July 31st

Last week we had reported how Amazon had been accused of using its venture capital arm to fund startups only to steal business ideas from them. Amazon allegedly invested in small firms to actually obtain information about products developed by them. Amazon used such confidential information to launch its own services. Google has far worse compared to Amazon.

On 30th June, Google announced acquiring North, a smart glass maker. Google reportedly paid upwards of $150 million to acquire the Canadian 8-year-old startup, North which started off as Thalmic Labs. North was manufacturing smart glasses called Focals smart glass. At the time of Google’s acquisition, It had started shipping the Focals 1.0 and in the process of developing next-gen, Focals 2.0.

It seemed natural that Google would be interested in North as its product line was similar to Google Glass. “We’re building towards a future where helpfulness is all around you, where all your devices just work together and technology fades into the background,” Rick Osterloh, senior vice president of devices and services at Google had said in a statement that time. “North’s technical expertise will help as we continue to invest in our hardware efforts and ambient computing future.”

Exactly one month after Google’s acquisition, North has killed off its flagship product. In a statement on the North website, it says that Focals smart glasses will not be sold any longer beginning July 31. “Focals smart glasses and its services are being discontinued and will no longer be available after July 31st, 2020. You won’t be able to connect your glasses through the app or use any features, abilities, or experiments from your glasses,” the statement reads.

Not only is North killing its flagship Focals 1.0 smart glasses, but it is also stopping work on the upcoming Focals 2.0 completely. The website says that customers who ordered the Focals 1.0 smart glasses after June 30 are provided with a refund.

Google’s predatory instincts

Google refused to comment on North killing off its Focals 1.0 and 2.0. North (now under Google) also did not give any reason for abandoning its flagship product.

North hasn’t provided any information on the reasons for abandoning the product. However, the company had mentioned that Focals 1.0 would be dropped after Google acquires it. “We’re proud to have grown our company in the Kitchener-Waterloo region and are thankful for the tremendous support we’ve received from the community. We are looking forward to remaining in the region with Google. We are winding down Focals 1.0 and we will not be shipping Focals 2.0, but we hope you will continue the journey with us as we start this next chapter,” North’s co-founders had said when announcing the Google takeover.

Many will argue that the North got a fresh lease of life, better funding and research facilities from Google but the question is whether Google was ethical in killing off a rival smart glass?


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"The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had." Eric Schmidt

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