The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Google will stop selling Glass to the general public. But Google says the device is not dead yet.

The new Google Glass "Bold" prescription frames in "shale" color rests on a table at the Google Glass Basecamp space at Chelsea Market, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Google is winding down its program allowing anyone to buy its smart Glass headset as it puzzles out the future of the gadget.

A report from the Wall Street Journal on Thursday said Google will stop selling Glass to the general public Jan. 19.  The company confirmed the report and said Google will still give Glass units to developers and companies who want to look at its applications for the office as part of Google's "Glass at Work" program, which has examined how the headset can help professionals such as doctors, emergency workers and filmmakers.

On the consumer front, the company has been pretty quiet about Glass in recent months, a striking contrast to its splashy 2012 launch, when Google chief executive Sergey Brin unveiled the device by skydiving into the company's developers conference. At first it was only available to developers, dubbed "Explorers" by the company, who wanted to play around with the new technology. Over the next year, Google tried to make the device more marketable to the general public by introducing. high-fashion frames, sunglasses lenses and prescription lenses for Glass.

But the idea of a face-worn computer still met with skepticism, ridicule and even hostility from the general public. It also drew several comparisons to notable tech flops such as the Segway as a product that started with a good idea but was ultimately too niche -- and, honestly, too nerdy -- to catch on outside a group of dedicated enthusiasts. Despite originally hinting that it would launch a consumer version of Glass by the end of 2014, Google never did -- though the company did eventually let anyone with $1,500 buy their own developer version.

It would be easy to see this latest move as a defeat for Glass. But  the picture is a little more complicated than that. While Google is halting sales, it doesn't seem like the company's giving up on the product altogether.

The people who work on Glass at Google, for example, still have their jobs. The unit will move from "Google X" research lab to its own department. The Glass team will still be run by Ivy Ross, the project's current manager. Ross, in turn, will report to Tony Fadell -- the former Apple executive who went on to become the chief executive of Nest, which Google acquired last year. (Despite the fact that Ross is reporting to Fadell, the Glass unit will not become a part of Nest, according to a Google spokeswoman.)

And, according to the Journal's report, Google still has plans to release a new version of the device sometime in 2015.

In other words: Google Glass is dead. Long live Google Glass.