Google partners with Ray-Ban, Oakley group to make Internet-connected glasses

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Internet giant Google Inc. has gone into a partnership with Luxottica Group SpA, the largest eyewear company to develop Internet-connected eyewear dubbed Google Glass.

The Milan-based Luxottica Group controls majority of the world’s brands in eyewear and is famous among consumers as the company that sells Oakley, Ray-Ban and Persol.

It also has the license to create prescription lenses and sunglasses for high-end brands like Giorgio Armani, Chanel and Prada.

This partnership will significantly benefit Google, which has been trying to develop and sell wearable computers to the public. Although Google wants to make it big in the device business, it will still focus on its expertise: software development.

The California-based Internet corporation will leave the design and development of frames to the expert, Luxottica Group.

The publicly-listed eyewear company will also take care of manufacturing and sales through its more than 5,000 LensCrafters and Sunglass Hut retail stores. Google Glass will also be available for purchase online.

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According to Euromonitor International, Luxottica Group SpA was the market leader for eyewear in 2012 with 12.4% share.

Such partnership is said to give the necessary boost to Google in its aim to dominate the growing industry of wearable computers.

In a statement, Google announced the arrangement concerning this partnership: “Luxottica understands how to build, distribute and sell great products that their clients and consumers love – something we care deeply about at Glass, too.”

The Italian eyeglass company acknowledged the significance of Google: “We believe that a strategic partnership with a leading player like Google is the ideal platform for developing a new way forward in our industry.”

The Google-Luxottica Group partnership is a follow-up step to Google’s partnership with VSP Vision Care Insurer last January. VSP, the biggest health insurance provider in the US, will offer prescription glasses for Google through its network of 30,000 ophthalmologists and 60 million plan owners.

Financial terms of the partnership remained undisclosed.

Astro Teller, the head of projects at the innovation lab Google X, mentioned that people have not yet warmed up to the idea of different wearable technology items. “This is a fashion problem as much as it is a technology problem,” he said.

Google Glass is just one of several devices in the wearable technology pipeline of the Internet titan, which just recently announced the development of the Internet-capable smart watch Android Wear. A basic pair of limited-edition Google Glass, excluding prescription lenses is currently priced at $1500. Google is still discussing a more affordable price for the consumer version set to be released next year.

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