On the heels of the agreement with Fossil (FOSL) to make a fashionable smart watch, Google (GOOG) has entered into an agreement with Luxottica, the owners of brands like Ray Ban, Oakley, Armani, Vogue-Eyewear and Arnette. Luxottica will package Google Glass into its designer eye wear and distribute through its 5,000-odd stores across the U.S. Further details are scarce.
This could be a big deal for Google, which has seen mixed reaction to Glass mostly on account of privacy concerns. Glass has a feature that enables it to click pictures simply by moving eye balls, which means that there is no need to aim or shoot. “Explorers,” or initial adopters have defended it, saying that a light comes on to indicate when a picture is being taken, so people do get sufficient notice.
For those who don’t consider this creepy enough, developers have also released facial recognition apps for Glass, which would enable the wearer to identify the people in front of them and uncover details about them without their knowledge. Google says that it would neither release nor distribute facial recognition apps until the concerns could be addressed. But let’s face it, with all the tools available to geeks, there should at least be some unauthorized ones available.
At any rate, Google’s strategy appears to be to ensure that Glass gets into as many hands as possible. Because that is what ultimately sells in a consumer market, since most people are taken in by cool things and don’t immediately consider what’s at stake. Moreover, since the $1,500 price tag can’t be considered cheap, Google needs to cozy up with folks who can sell the stuff. This seems to be the main reason it is going for big brands. Of course, good looks don’t hurt either.