Snap wants to prove to investors in its upcoming IPO that Spectacles can earn money for its business, not just be a brand stunt. So today, Snap begins selling its video-recording sunglasses Spectacles openly online for $129.99 in the US at Spectacles.com. Previously it only dispensed them from Snapbot vending machines in surprise locations and its NYC pop-up store for the last three months.
Snap has now closed that pop-up, and tells me “Snapbots will continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief “nap” 🙂 “. Buyers should expect to wait two to four weeks for their Spectacles to ship, and they can also buy $49.99 charging cases and $9.99 charging cords, which will no longer be sold on Amazon.
As for why Snap is expanding Spectacles beyond its buzzy limited release strategy, a spokesperson explains
“As Evan shared in his interview with the WSJ, when we launched, the idea was : ‘We’re going to take a slow approach to rolling them out,’ says Spiegel. ‘It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like it.’ Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available — especially for those in the US who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”
Despite that positive response, Snap admitted in its IPO filing that “The launch of Spectacles . . . has not generated significant revenue for us” and notes “We expect to experience production and operating costs related to Spectacles that will exceed the related revenue in the near future”.
There was that one charging case that melted… but in general, users have been quite pleased with the glasses that can record 10 to 30-seconds of video at a time. The circular, view-with-your-phone-in-any-orientation video format Snap pioneered also gives its app Snapchat something that its popular clone Instagram Stories can’t copy.
Still, Spectacles proved that face-worn computers could be cool if launched by the right brand and kept out of the hands of the geeks at first. Instead of giving developers first access, which created a socially awkward stigma around Google Glass, Snap let its biggest fans chase its Snapbots around the country.
Snap doesn’t necessarily need to make money directly from Spectacles if it can use them to get more people creating and watching Snaps. But showing it can earn real revenue from hardware could bolster confidence in its public offering. Now the question is what camera this “Camera Company” will release next.