Sergey Brin has an unconventional view of the handheld devices that help generate billions of dollars in ad revenue for the company he co-founded.
Hunching over a smartphone while walking about is “emasculating,” Google Inc.’s Brin said yesterday at the Technology, Entertainment, Design conference in Long Beach, California, according to a blog post on the event’s website.
Brin was touting the benefits of Google Glass, his company’s wearable mobile-computing devices that resemble spectacles. His point: standing upright and summoning information to one’s eyes is a better use of the body than “rubbing a featureless piece of glass.”
“Is this the way you’re meant to interact with other people?” he said at the conference. “It’s kind of emasculating.”
Whatever their effect on the attributes usually associated with men, smartphones and other mobile devices are key to Google’s future as more people log onto the Internet when they’re away from desktop computers. Handheld computers are also generally a lot more affordable than Google Glass, which goes for about $1,500. What’s more, smartphones are the main conduit for Google’s Android mobile operating system, the software used in 70 percent of smartphones, according to IDC.
“People carry a supercomputer in their pocket all the time,” Google Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Larry Page said on an earnings call with analysts last month. “In fact, we feel naked without our smartphone.”
Brin’s comments were swiftly derided across the Web, with some pundits scoffing at the suggestion that Google Glass is superior to smartphones.
“We’re taking advice on cool from this guy? Seriously?” John Gruber wrote on his widely read blog, daringfireball.net. While folks indeed should pay more attention to one another, “strapping a computer display to your face is not the answer.”
Clara Jefferey, co-editor of Mother Jones, questioned the trendiness of Google Glass, referencing a John Hughes teen film from the 1980s.
Wrote Jefferey in a tweet: “Smart phones are emasculating but wearing geek glasses straight from ‘Sixteen Candles’ isn’t?”