When you are developing an innovative product that still needs social proof and approval from the society, you need to iterate and let the first early adopters test it. While you iterate, you need to make sure that you are adding value to what you are building. If you changed your product hundred times, without any reason, and ended up with nothing, it would have been just a waste of time and money. Google is doing the same, they are iterating and making sure they are playing a smart game.
Glass is not an easy product to ship on the market, that’s why it takes time before being sure to release it. They are looking for the right time, price and social approval. In order to reach these three key values, they need to keep working on it while branding through their explorer program and media, which in this case is fundamental. The biggest news about Google Glass is the partnership they have recently closed with Luxottica, which changes everything.
As the innovators of the “Smart Glasses” market, Google is also able to partner first with everyone that wants to join the revolution. However, this time they didn’t partner with a random company from Italy, but with Luxottica, which is the “world’s largest eyewear company”. Funded in 1961, Luxottica has become the number one producer of glasses, making sunglasses branded Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Versace, Vogue, Miu Miu, Tory Burch, and Donna Kara.
Further the group also owns three massive brands. Oakley, which was acquired in November 2007 for US$2.1 billion, Persol and Ray-Ban. With more than 70k employees, Luxottica owns 80% of the eyewear brands in the world. They are currently listed on the BIT and NYSE with a market cap of $27 billion.
These two companies have announced they have agreed they will join forces to design, develop and distribute a new breed of eyewear for Glass. Further, both the Ray-Ban and Oakley teams will be part of the collaboration with Glass. This partnership means that we will probably have to wait a bit more before being able to buy Google Glass; but when the time comes, Google will be ready.
The tech giant knows that they have the developers and the platform, but they are lacking of people who can take care of the eyewear side. That’s why the best way is to partner with the company that has more than fifty years of experience in this market. As they also say in the press release:
Through this relationship, Luxottica and Google, who are setting the pace in their respective industries, will match up high-tech developers with fashion designers and eyewear professionals.
The next step for Google is to keep building momentum. People need to start liking the idea of having Google Glass on top of their heads and having Luxottica on the same boat, it’s a massive win. The price of this device is still to high and no one will buy it for that price, even the innovators, those who queue in front of the Apple store for the latest iPhone, might struggle to buy an extension of their phone that costs so much.
Google said they were ready to ship by the end of 2013, but we still haven’t seen anything. They are taking their time and it’s pretty normal, but we hope to see something by the next Google I/O, which should take place in two months. They introduced the device two years ago, with a massive demo, but after that, they didn’t show anything “publicly”.
With the introduction of Android Wear, they now have a platform and a product in the wearable ecosystem, which should be able to communicate, meaning that with also and Android phone, Google has completely taken over. They just need to move quicker and iterate faster.