One day you're going to see me walking down the street wearing Google glasses, maybe sporting an iWatch and probably doing something with an overly large cellphone. And you'll probably think I'm a giant douchebag.
Is it because I'll be just one more over-connected yet socially oblivious American? Will you be jealous of how I have all these great gadgets and am always on top of information? Or is it just that I'll look like a massive tool?
Quite possibly the latter, and it's with that in mind that Google appears to be addressing the style gap raised by its much-hyped augmented reality Project Glass. According to the New York Times, Google is in talks with the boutique e-commerce site Warby Parker, which makes specialized stylish glasses, to produce more fashionable frames for its Glass frames.
Google has plenty of work ahead of it to make Glass stylish for the masses. Right now, the glasses basically feature a camera-battery-processor rig attached to plastic frames and lenses. As in, yeah, that bulky thing on the left of the frames below.
The challenge for Google and Warby Parker is to make the functional parts of Glass look cool. Does that mean redesigning how the glasses are put together? Or can Warby Parker find a way to take that existing pack and put it on frames in a chic manner?
The question of style is a new one for Google, which has historically focused on geeks and engineers. What's good for the geek is good for the Google gander.
That's changing with Glass. Google has seeded the devices to both tech enthusiasts and fashionistas. For example, Google has given a pair to Bobak Ferdowsi, the flight director for NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover mission. You don't get much more geek-chic than a NASA engineer. Yet Google also had runway models feature Glass eyewear during New York Fashion Week.
The strategy is almost Apple-esque. Apple has long tried to make sure that its products embraced both functional and aesthetic principles. An iPhone isn't just a cool smartphone, it's a slick status symbol. That focus helped Apple grow into one of the biggest and most successful companies in history.
As Google continues to expand its own lined of devices – such as Nexus smartphones and tablets and Chromebooks – it will need to navigate the function/style divide every bit as carefully as Apple has. Will Warby Parker will be Google’s solution to that challenge? Stay tuned.