Back in February, Google co-founder Sergey Brin made waves when reports trickled out that he had said that touchscreen smartphones are somehow emasculating during a TED presentation. The report, unaccompanied by video proof, seemed to highlight the fact that, despite his status as a billionaire visionary, Brin was still just another awkward geek dealing with his own particular relationship to technology and culture.
Now video has surfaced of the presentation, and it reveals a Brin who is every bit as awkward as earlier quotes from the speech have indicated. Starting off with a somewhat stilted joke about Nigerian Internet scammers while swiping a touchscreen phone, Brin quickly transitions to his Glass device and begins to explain the reasoning behind the product.
Then comes the emasculating comment, along with the revelation that his wife, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of 23andMe, actually uses a BlackBerry with a keyboard. To be clear, it seems obvious that what Brin really meant by emasculating was that our smartphones are simply giving us less control over our social interactions, but his choice of words obscured the overall point for some.
Describing the device as something he envisioned at the very start of Google, Brin demonstrates the bone-conducting function of the Glass sound system (you put your finger over your ear canal in order to hear better). Brin also reveals that he doesn't just think touchscreen smartphones are emasculating and socially isolating, but he compares the now common habit of constantly checking one's smartphone to a kind of nervous tick like smoking.
So, based on this talk, smartphones are not macho, and are as bad a habit as smoking. Yes, Google is very serious about getting Glass into the hands of consumers. Hopefully, that means that $1,500 price tag will drop significantly in coming months. You can see the entire Brin presentation, followed by a brief interview with the host, in the video below.