As is so often the case for any emerging technology, gaining mass adoption is as much an issue of the technology being ready for the wider world as is also having the wider world being ready for the technology in question.
One can't happen without the other.
This at times can result in a frustrating chicken-and-egg scenario for newly hatched technologies. Look at many of the most recent technologies to make it to the mass-market like smartphones or tablets. In both cases, technologists had been talking about either device for decades, and early predecessors for both device types also existed for years before they finally made it to the big time.
And as many expect wearble devices to represent the next great wave of consumer tech innovation, investors are once again confronted with this notion. Because despite how seemingly cool devices like Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android Gear or Google Glass might appear to the technologically inclined, both probably have a
ways to go before their sales soars.
However, a recent move from Google certainly shows the company is headed in the right direction in bringing its Google Glass to the big time.
Google Glass gets a makeover
This week Google Glass got a major shot in the arm when it announced a partnership with Italian eyeglass kingpin Luxottica (OTC:LUXTY).
For the uninitiated, Luxottica is one of the most powerful companies in the global glasses industry that generated sales of over $10 billion last year . Luxottica either directly controls several of the most recognizable eyewear brands on earth including RayBan, Oakley, Persol, and Oliver Peoples. For the top consumer brands it doesn't control, it has created licensing arrangements that grant Luxottica the exclusive right to produce their wares. It also owns or franchises nearly 7,000 retail glasses store like Sunglass Hut, Lens Crafters, and Pearle Vision and others, giving it as much as a 12% share of the global glasses market by one estimate.
Suffice to say, Luxottica is a heavyweight in the global glasses industry if there ever was one. This is fantastic news for Google, who will now have access to top designers from some of its flagship brands to help address what I've long believed is one of the least discussed, but most critical, impediments to Google Glass ever gaining mass adoption – their look.
Like it or not, few accessories are more deeply rooted in personal fashion that eyeglasses. People use their glasses not only to correct their vision or keep the sun out of their eyes, but to also express their own unique senses of style. This is plainly obvious, of course, but equally critical, if not more so, to driving mass
adoption as will be improving Google Glass' software experience. Most people just won't wear glasses they find unfashionable, and Google clearly wants to begin addressing this aspect of Glass with the Luxottica deal.
The right direction
The financial terms to the deal or the timeline for production weren't disclosed as part of the announcement. However, the intent of a deal like this isn't to turn Google Glass into an overnight sensation, and that's alright.
More realistically, it will take plenty of easing into for consumers to eventually warm up to the idea of wearing computers on their faces. However, in signing the deal, Google is once again reaffirming its belief in the overall platform. This should help the storyline once again resonate with the consumers, while also encouraging potential developers that the Google Glass platform is indeed here to stay, both of which are critically important in the slow chess match Google's playing here.
So at the end of the day, this storyline is largely thematic in nature. But given Google's express interest and early lead in this potential new computing paradigm, this deal should hopefully maintain Google Glass' momentum as it continues to inch toward the big time.