Snapchat on Friday surprised everyone with two big announcements: First, the company has changed its name from Snapchat to Snap Inc., and second, the company will sell its first-ever hardware product this fall: a pair of sunglasses with cameras on them, called “Spectacles.”
Snap’s Spectacles have already drawn many comparisons to Glass, Google’s head-mounted computer that was unveiled in 2013 to much fanfare. But Google Glass ultimately failed for many reasons: It was expensive at $1,500, it was banned in many public places, and it was largely ridiculed by mainstream consumers for looking too geeky.
Here’s why Snap’s Spectacles can succeed where Google Glass failed.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel still considers the first-generation Spectacles 'a toy,' and its price is a reflection of this. Unlike Google Glass, which was priced like a computer at $1,500 for the first 'Explorer Edition,' Snap Spectacles will only cost $129, making them much more accessible to the mainstream public. That's around as much as you'll pay for a pair of Ray Bans, but Ray Bans can't record your life from a first-person perspective and share it with the world through Snapchat.
If the low price wasn't attractive enough, Spiegel says Spectacles will only be available in limited quantities when they go on sale this fall. With a small supply and a more attainable price point, this should help generate a good deal of commercial demand.
Sure, you still might think Spectacles are uglier than your favourite pair of sunglasses, but they certainly look better than Google Glass, which looked downright foreign in some respects, which did not help the product's already-stodgy image. Snap's Spectacles, on the other hand, are much more fashionable and available in three fun colours: coral, teal, and black.
This was a big sticking point for Google Glass' creepiness factor: You couldn't tell when they were recording you, and people in public places were rightfully freaked out by that.
Snap's Spectacles actually light up when they're recording you -- it doesn't make the act of recording any less creepy, but at least you'll know!
Again, with the creepiness factor: You could never tell what someone was doing with Google Glass. Since it could be used to take pictures and record video, but also get emails and notifications and navigate yourself from place to place using Google Maps, you were never quite sure what that person wearing that weird-looking headset was doing.
With Spectacles, you know exactly what they're doing. They're recording video -- probably of you. Still, knowing is better than not knowing!
Booooooooooring. Also, not easy to find among your other chargers.
This is clever and fun. It's nice to see the Snap team put some creativity into the charging apparatus for Spectacles: After all, any pair of sunglasses need a nice case to keep them in.
Snap hasn't said how many hours of battery life you'll get out of Spectacles, but even if it's the same four hours of life as Google Glass, at least it will be easier to find the charger, and more fun to use it.