Snap's 'shockingly low' internal data reveals why its Spectacles glasses flopped

  • Despite the initial hype, Snap’s Spectacles are a commercial flop.
  • The company has sold only 150,000 pairs to date, and less than half of Spectacles owners kept using the glasses after the first month.
  • Snap reportedly has “hundreds of thousands” of unsold Spectacles sitting in warehouses.

Snap’s much-hyped Spectacles glasses are, by commercial standards, a total flop.

Besides selling only 150,000 pairs in the past year, Snap’s first foray into making hardware failed to excite customers past their initial purchase.

Snap’s internal data showed that well under half of Spectacles owners continued to use the camera-equipped sunglasses after just four weeks, Business Insider has learned. A person familiar with the data called the retention rate “shockingly low” and added that a sizable percentage of owners would stop using the glasses after just one week.

The lack of sustained interest in the glasses helps explain the misstep by Snap, following a report in The Information on Monday that Snap has “hundreds of thousands” of unsold Spectacles sitting in warehouses. And it represents another blow to Snap’s aspirations of branching into the hardware market and transforming itself into a “camera company.”

A Snap spokesperson declined to comment on the previously unreported data. The spokesperson said that Snap has worked to improve how the glasses work through software updates over the past year and is pleased that 73% of reviews for Spectacles on Amazon give the product a five-star rating.

Snap introduced Spectacles, which sell for $US130 in three colours, in September 2016 through yellow vending machines that would appear unannounced in different parts of the US — a clever marketing trick that garnered long lines initially. In February, Snap started selling Spectacles online before making them available in Europe a few months later.

Snapbot in VeniceAlex Heath / Business InsiderOne of Snapchat’s ‘Snapbot’ vending machines for Spectacles was unattended during this reporter’s recent trip to Snap’s headquarters in Venice Beach, California.

CEO Evan Spiegel recently said that Snap had sold a total of 150,000 Spectacles, beating the company’s own hope of selling 100,000. “We’re just sort of beginning to dabble in hardware,” he said while onstage at Vanity Fair’s The New Establishment Conference earlier this month.

But the team behind Snap’s hardware efforts, a group known internally as Snap Labs, has already gone through significant turmoil in its short history. The division recently laid off roughly one dozen employees supporting Spectacles and put a new executive, Mark Randall, in charge with the title VP of Hardware.

Making hardware is also an expensive bet for Snap, which is under intense scrutiny from Wall Street to grow its ad business in the face of mounting pressure from Facebook. Snap said in an August regulatory filing with the SEC that it had $US29 million in “hardware inventory commitments.” But the company has generated just under $US20 million in revenue from Spectacles to date, based on quarterly earnings statements.

Do you know more about Snap’s hardware efforts? Contact the author securely and discreetly via Twitter direct message or email at [email protected]

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