Back in September Snapchat made two rather large announcements, the first of which being that they are changing their name to Snap, Inc, dropping the chat from their name. The second announcement is that they are Introducing a new product called “Spectacles”. This new product is essentially a pair of sunglasses with a camera built in, the device will enable users to take hands free videos, or “snaps” and upload them to their Snapchat accounts. If this sounds like it had been done before, that is because it has. Google made a limited release of a product that had similar features called “Google Glass”. Google’s attempt was not very successful. They had issues with pricing, privacy and a general negative image, primarily brought on by Glassholes. While Snap has the mistakes of Google to learn from, I am still asking the same thing about Spectacles that I asked about Glass, why in the hell do we need this.
I won’t cover too many of the details here as to the mistakes made by Google, and what Snap is doing differently. There is a nice article on the topic by real journalists over at CNET, if you care to read up on that. I will say that while I think this is yet another pointless device, I understand why Snap is doing this. We love to stay as connected as possible these days. Social media and online communications have replaced much of the physical contact we have in our lives. We complain about all the pointless posts on Facebook, and Instagram, like pictures of dinner, or the endless stream of baby and pet pictures. Yet we still post our own content of this nature, and we like and share those from others. We as humans like to stay connected to each other, and social media is just the next evolution of this. The arguments about whether this is a good thing or not, well I’ll leave that for another article.
Snap understands this need to be connected, and saw a business opportunity. They want to make it as easy as possible to share our lives, but in all honestly it was already very easy to share our lives. One thing is for sure though this product not only opens up a new revenue stream for them, it will surely increase the user base of their flagship Snapchat product. One interesting thing that should be noted is that Spectacles are hard to come by right now, going for over a grand on ebay. .Their normal retail price is $130 if you can find the mysterious “Snapbot”. This is all part of Snap’s strategy I’m sure, create artificial scarcity, increase demand, create product buzz.
I think this will be one of those things that rapidly gains popularity, especially amongst young people, and will eventually fade into the sunset. I think Spectacles are an at best unnecessary product, and at worst a marketing gimmick, really it probably falls somewhere between the two. Then again I thought Twitter was pointless, and wasn’t a fan of smart watches. As time went on I started to see the usefulness of these products and now regularly use both. It’s only been about two months in since the product was announced, maybe I’ll get a pair sometime and try them out. Maybe one day I will be rocking a pair of Spectacles, but I sincerely doubt it.