Google and Luxottica Announce Strategic Partnership for Glass; Will Include Ray-Ban, Oakley Brands

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MILAN— Luxottica Group S.p.A . (NYSE: LUX) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), announced late today that they have agreed they will join forces to design, develop and distribute a new breed of eyewear for Glass, which will include the involvement of Ray-Ban and Oakley brands from within Luxottica’s portfolio. In its own statement, Google added that “Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve us well when we make Glass more widely available down the road.”

Today’s announcement is described in Luxottica’s statement as “a far-reaching strategic partnership between Luxottica and Google to work together across multiple efforts on the creation of innovative iconic wearable devices. Through this relationship, Luxottica and Google will match up high-tech developers with fashion designers and eyewear professionals.”

The statement continued, “In particular, the two corporations will establish a team of experts devoted to working on the design, development, tooling and engineering of Glass products that straddle the line between high-fashion, lifestyle and innovative technology.”

Luxottica said that the two major proprietary brands of the group, Ray-Ban and Oakley, will be part of the collaboration with Glass. Luxottica cited Oakley’s “10-year heritage in wearable technology that has evolved from MP3 to HUD devices.” The company said details about these new products will be disclosed at a later stage.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Google, and are proud to be once again setting the pace in the eyewear industry, as we have been, with more than 50 years of excellence,” said Andrea Guerra, CEO of Luxottica Group.

Astro Teller, Google vice president and head of Google X, of which Google Glass is a part, commented, "We are thrilled to be partnering with them as we look to push Glass and the broader industry forward into the emerging smart eyewear market.”

Guerra continued, “We live in a world where technological innovation has dramatically changed the way in which we communicate and interact in everything that we do. More importantly, we have come to a point where we now have both a technology push and a consumer pull for wearable technology products and applications. Seeing such a future, over the last years, Luxottica invested heavily in building-out our technology platforms and digital solutions to combine with our products excellence.”

“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 and answering the evolving needs of consumers on a global scale,” Guerra added. “We believe it is high time to combine the unique expertise, deep knowledge and quality of our Group with the cutting edge technology expertise of Google and give birth to a new generation of revolutionary devices.”

In its own statement about the new collaboration, Google added, “Luxottica will bring design and manufacturing expertise to the mix, and, together, we’ll bring even more Glass style choices to our Explorers. In addition, Luxottica’s retail and wholesale distribution channels will serve us well when we make Glass more widely available down the road.” Google did not disclose a price for the new products but stated, “Given Luxottica’s rich history in manufacturing, we anticipate that they will have a significant role in the manufacturing of Glass-related frames.” Google also said, “Right now the Glass team and Luxottica are focused on the U.S. market and have nothing to announce beyond that.”

Google’s statement added, “This news represents our biggest step yet into the emerging smart eyewear market and follows the announcement of our Titanium Collection- frames designed in house made available in January.”

VMail reported on that new collection when Glass said that it would make available prescription lens options for Glass through a strategic partnership with VSP Global.