Snap may have messed up big time with its Spectacles

24 Oct 2017

Snap’s Spectacles vending machines in New York. Image: NYCStock/Shutterstock

Did you buy yourself a pair of Snap Spectacles? Not many did, according to new reports, and leftover stock is piling up.

First revealed towards the end of last year, Snap’s Spectacles were launched as a wearable camera that enables a Snapchat user to snap away without needing to take out their phone.

After an initial launch in the US, the Spectacles went global, with Snap expecting hundreds of thousands of users to buy the €149.99 device. Alas, this never happened.

According to The Information, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and his other executives vastly overestimated how many units it would sell, with the company producing more than 150,000 of the devices.

In a vast warehouse in China, many of the devices – both partly and fully assembled – are now gathering dust with no expectation that they are going to sell.

This is despite the initial hype surrounding Spectacles, which saw huge queues forming at the specially built vending machines that helped drum up the hype and interest.

This, sources close to Snap said, was what made the executives decide to double down on the production of Spectacles, but they didn’t take into account that once they became readily available online, the exclusivity –and, therefore, the major draw – would rapidly decline.

The news might worry Spiegel and others in the company given that it has recently launched Snap Labs, a hardware R&D lab to develop all sorts of things you could use to take photos. It includes the possibility for a Snap drone, and the lab has already started to buy robotics and drone start-ups to help build it.

At the same time, Snap’s losses since it went public are also a cause for concern to those on the outside. News came last August that its losses had quadrupled in the space of a year to $443m as it tried to keep ahead of its competitors.

If there is a silver lining to this story, it is that Spiegel has previously stated that he thinks it will be a decade before the product is really considered important to Snap, but is that just buying the Spectacles venture more time?

Snap’s Spectacles vending machines in New York. Image: NYCStock/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic