Google's Sergey Brin Calls Smartphones 'Emasculating'

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-02-28

Google's Sergey Brin Calls Smartphones 'Emasculating'

Google Glass will be used in the future by real men, while smartphones and their need for finger-swipes over a glass screen will emasculate their users.

That's the view of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who made the comments Feb. 27 at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., according to a story by

In a surprise 10-minute appearance at the conference, Brin said that Google Glass will put users in control of their electronic devices, rather than being forced to concentrate on and give inputs to the device's screen.

"You're actually socially isolating yourself with your phone," Brin said at the conference, Wired reported. "I feel like it's kind of emasculating. … You're standing there just rubbing this featureless piece of glass."

That's a very different experience compared with using Google Glass, he said, which can be used without touching it.

"I whip this out and focus on it as though I have something very important to attend to," Brin said. "This [Google Glass] really takes away that excuse. … It really opened my eyes to how much of my life I spent secluded away in email or social posts."

Instead, Glass fulfills a vision he said he's had since starting Google 15 years ago "that eventually you wouldn't have to have a search query at all—the information would just come to you as you needed it," said Brin. "This is the first form factor that can deliver that vision."

His comments caused a storm of responses on the Internet.

John Gruber, a blogger who writes about technology, wrote on his blog,, "We're taking advice on cool from this guy? Seriously? I can see the argument that [fooling] around with our phones in public is not cool, that we should pay more attention to our companions and surroundings, and less to our computer displays. Strapping a computer display to your face is not the answer."

Twitter posts about Brin's remarks were everywhere.

"Google's Sergey Brin calls smartphones ''emasculating,'" tweeted technology writer and editor Barbara Krasnoff.  "As opposed to wearing glasses with thick frames?"

IT professional Brad Casemore had his own take, tweeting, "Sergey Brin appears to contend that Google Glass is more swaggeringly macho than the smartphone."

Another IT executive, Tom Giles, tweeted, "This from a dude whose $GOOG makes billions from dudes hunching over #emasculating smartphones. Well played, Sergey."

IT writer and technology professional Tom Reestman had his own take on Brin's comments, tweeting, "Seems to me Sergey Brin suffers from premature emasculation."

The Google Glass project is an eyewear-mounted computer that will have a wide range of innovative features when it hits the consumer market. The Explorer Edition versions of Google Glass for developers are expected to become available early this year, with consumer versions expected sometime in 2014.

Google Glass features an Android-powered display, a tiny Webcam, a GPS locator and an Internet connection node built in to one side of a pair of glasses. The glasses are lightweight and may or may not have lenses.

Google's Sergey Brin Calls Smartphones 'Emasculating'

Earlier this month, Google announced that it is expanding its Google Glass testing pool to get more testers and collect additional input for the still-evolving project. The company is inviting interested applicants to submit proposals through Feb. 27 for a chance to buy an early model and become a part of its continuing development.

So far, Glass has only been available to developers who attended the annual Google I/O Conference in July 2012, where the devices were unveiled officially. Those developers were given the first chances to buy the first Explorer Edition units of the product for $1,500 each when they are offered for sale this year.

Now, though, Google is ready to expand the testing to the general public, with some conditions, according to the company. The biggest caveat is that participants who are chosen would first have to buy a set of Glass for $1,500 plus taxes.

As part of the expanded testing program, Google also unveiled some cool new details about Glass through a brief video that explores some of its early capabilities.

Google recently held two "hackathon" events in New York City and San Francisco as part of its "Glass Foundry" program to collect developer input for the devices with an emphasis on developing the Google Mirror API. Attendees were given access to a Glass device for use and testing.

The company will also hold a Building New Experiences with Glass session March 11 at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference to further the project's development.

Google also recently revealed that the Glass devices will transmit sound to its users via vibrations through human bones rather than relying on traditional speakers.

An actual Google Glass device was spotted in public Jan. 21 being used by Google co-founder Brin on a New York subway train.

If nothing else, Brin's comments are certainly helping fuel a continuing and growing interest in Google Glass.

A purported pair of Google Glasses even landed in an auction on eBay this week, reaching a bid of $16,000 before apparently being taken down by eBay, according to a story by The Guardian.

"And one person in Cleveland, Ohio, was claiming to have a pair of the glasses—or at least to be part of the seeding program—which were up for auction," the story reported. "According to the site, they would have been available sometime between Monday 4 March and Thursday 7 March, and at the time of writing the bidding had hit $15,900, having started at $1,500 on 21 February, and ramped up quickly in the past couple of days."

And the successor to Google Glass is already making news, after rumors about patent applications for the next Google Glass surfaced earlier this week. The successor could be a dual-eye version using specialized lasers that would provide a dual-eye image for the user, rather than the original version's one-eye capability.

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