Snap Inc Drastically Overestimated Demand For Spectacles

Remember Snapchat Spectacles? No? Well, you're not alone. After what seemed like an exciting release window filled with minor celebrity endorsements and loads of in-app promotion, Snap Inc's proprietary mashup of sunglasses and video cameras has failed to make any substantial impact on the smartglasses market. Even worse, the company now has huge numbers of unsold Spectacles both assembled and ready to be built sitting in Chinese warehouses.

Despite earlier reports indicating that sales of Spectacles have exceeded the company's expectations, a new report from The Information states that "hundreds of thousands" of Spectacles are sitting unsold on warehouse shelves. It seems like Snap Inc saw the initial buzz surrounding Spectacles, including lengthy lines at SnapBot vending machines, then proceeded to grossly overestimate consumers' willingness to endure long waits and bad weather just to buy them. Obviously, this sort of behavior disappeared once the few who actually wanted Spectacles could find them in stores or online.

It's pretty easy to see why Spectacles have failed to capture consumer interest: not only are they subjectively unattractive as sunglasses, the $130 price tag coupled with the limitation of only being able to record 30 seconds of video at once puts Spectacles well behind in terms of functionality-versus-cost. As a reference point, the 4K WiFi-enabled Akaso GoPro-esque camcorder is both waterproof and headmount-ready, and it runs for just $75 bucks over on Amazon.

Ignoring cost and appearance issues, the other selling point of Spectacles is that users can capture Snapchat images and video in a free-form format that allows playback in landscape mode, portrait mode, or any angle in between. When watching Spectacles-captured video, the circular nature and fisheye lens effect creates something that's supposed to be more analogous with how us human beings see the world. And while that's all fine and dandy, it turns out that most people are generally don't rotate their screens around when watching videos — portrait and landscape, believe it or not, are the preferred choices.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Spectacles are designed specifically for use with Snapchat, an application that is perfectly capable of recording video and taking images by itself. And, naturally, it's free; it works with the hardware built into users' phones. So while it's a little sad that Spectacles seem to have failed as a new business venture, it seems like very few will mourn their passing into obscurity.

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