Can Snapchat Spectacles avoid the missteps of Google Glass?
Snapchat has surprised the tech community by changing its name to Snap Inc. It has also shocked its peers by introducing the company’s first hardware product, Spectacles — sunglasses with a video camera — which instantly drew comparisons to Google Glass.
The name change moves the company beyond its popular smartphone app, which reaches 100 million visitors daily. CEO and co-founder Evan Spiegel had long described Snapchat as a “camera company.” The updated mission statement reads, “We believe that reinventing the camera represents our greatest opportunity to improve the way people live and communicate.”
Greater attention has gone to Spectacles, sunglasses with an integrated video camera that offers a hands-free way to share experiences socially. Users tap a button near the left camera and record up to 10 seconds of video. Additional taps trigger 10 more seconds each, up to 30 seconds at a time. The “Snaps” live on Spectacles until they’re transferred to a smartphone.
With a 115-degree field of view, Spectacles enable shooting circular video. The sunglasses also promise to dramatically improve recording because of their position closer to the eyes’ natural field of view. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Spiegel likened filming with a smartphone to having “a wall in front of your face.”
While reviewers haven’t tried Spectacles, the product is earning wide praise because it also addresses the core problems with Glass.
Available in three colors, Spectacles look like a regular pair of designer sunglasses versus the overly techy Glass. At a price of $130, it’s seen as an affordable impulse purchase rather than an investment. While including additional capabilities such as web surfing, the $1,500 price tag on Glass also made it appear elitist.
Finally, Spectacles’ outward-facing light alerts people when they’re being filmed. The small recording light on Glass made it hard for others to know.
Spectacles’ upcoming limited-edition launch could position the item as a holiday hot-seller. Speaking to USA Today, Brian Solis, an analyst at the Altimeter Group, predicted Spectacles would land “on everyone’s Christmas list.”
- Introducing Spectacles! – Snap Inc.
- Snapchat Releases First Hardware Product, Spectacles – The Wall Street Journal (sub. required)
- Snapchat’s Wild New Specs Won’t Share Google Glass’s Fate – Wired
- Snapchat’s camcorder goggles are creepy cool and kind of brilliant – Re/Code
- Snapchat introduces video glasses, new name – USA Today
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How would you rate the commercial appeal of Spectacles relative to Google Glass? Do you predict that Snap will prove to be a winning product?