Google on Monday announced a partnership with Luxottica Group, which currently owns and operates Ray-Ban, Oakley, Oliver Peoples and more. Basically, any eyewear worth owning is under control of Luxottica—this deal cannot be underestimated. Google and its minions are still trying to find the best way to use and market the wearable computer, but with Luxottica involved, the problem of actually looking like a normal thing might not be so difficult. That means everyday people who like everyday eyewear might not be embarrassed to have a glass prism above their eyeball. It also gives Google the opportunity to market to the lifestyle crowd, of which Google has very little concept.
Google says Luxottica will bring its manufacturing expertise to the mix, allowing Google to distribute and sell Glass to a wider audience. You, me, your surfer uncle, etc. “Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve [Google] well when we make Glass available to more people down the road,” Google said. Google already offers the Titanium Collection of frames designed by the Glass team, but Luxottica’s involvement will introduce a higher standard to how the wearable looks. How it functions is another matter entirely.
The deal will will first be limited to the U.S. market, and focus on Ray-Ban and Oakely, two of Luxottica’s most well-known brands. In a press release by the eyewear conglomerate, Luxottica said it hopes to combine the high-end technology of Glass with “avant-garde design.” If you didn’t think Glass sounded pretentious enough, well, Luxottica’s quote says it all. The news is certainly big, and will allow Google to reach an audience outside of Silicon Valley. But how people use it, and the supposed myths being spread around, are the technology’s bigger issues.
The partnership isn’t expected to produce results anytime soon, meaning you won’t see any Glass Edition Wayfarers at your nearest Lens Crafters or Sunglass Hut in the coming weeks. But with 12.4-percent of the eyewear market as of 2012 (via The Wall Street Journal), you’re likely to see Glass popup in a lot of retail stores when a consumer model is finally available. In all, Google will have access to 5,000 stores across the U.S. thanks to its Luxottica partnership. It seems we have yet to even see the beginning of Google’s Glass onslaught.