Why only 0.08% of Snapchat users bought their sunglasses? Hundreds of thousands of shows are rotting in warehouses after the company misses the launch. Initial hype and lines for roaming, limited time only Snapbot ATMs have led Snap to overestimate the demand but under-broadcast on quality and content.
Massive piles of unassembled assembled video sunglasses are unsold, contributing to Snap's huge costs and losses, according to The Information. Snap's internal data shows that less than 50 percent of shoppers continue to use shows a month after the purchase, reports Alex Heath of Business Insider. A "significant" percentage stopped after only one week, with a source rating the retention rate as "shocking."
What was the problem? Snap generated a huge hype for Spectacles, but then waited 5 months to sell them openly. Once people have actually tried Spectacles, few have continued to wear them, and word of mouth about their obsolescence has spread. Snap never had visionary video markers on board. And as Snapchat's popularity declined against its competitors, the fact that Spectacles interfered only with its application rather than with the rolling of a camera became a burden.
Snap did some good things with Spectacles. The announcement of the broadcast of the fashion photo has turned out to be chic and surprising despite clues and photos of CEO Evan Spiegel looming in front. The initial launch was a marketing extravaganza, with waiting lines of several hours on the Venice Beach boardwalk to buy them. And the Snapbots dropped in random places were exciting and gave the impression that people felt special if they got them. But once people put them on their faces, the excitement went off.
Here is an overview of the main flaws that have emerged with Spectacles in the year following their launch, focusing on the launch strategy:
Snap announced Spectacles for the first time with some photos of Karl Lagerfeld of Spiegel who wore them on September 24, 2016. Hype was high despite the beachey color options that discouraged some people. It was not until November 10th for the launch of the first Snapbot vending machines. While the hype had cooled slightly, the demand was huge as people wanted to be first on the block with Shows, and lines were stretching out on the streets.
But Snap wanted to know if Snap wanted to trade the Snapbot promotion, could not tell if the shows were to be exclusive or widely available, or if he had supply chain issues, it took wait until February 20 for Snap to start selling.
Waiting five months after the initial announcement was an eternity in the evolving teenage fashion cycle. They were not cool at the time they were buyable. Everyone had already seen sunglasses and the circular video on the Internet, most owners had long since stopped using them, the holiday season had passed, and few people wanted to buy so late. It was not until June, eight months after their debut, that Spectacles was available in Europe.
If Snap had instead made his announcement, quickly outfitted a few lucky users and celebrities of Spectacles, and then launched a giant Black Friday sale atop its hype, anyone who was fascinated by the gadget could have bought it immediately. Everyone would have paid before the news came out that people would not wear so many camera glasses.
Alternatively, Snap could have followed the path of exclusivity enlightened by his fashion-driven debut. Rather than selling Specs openly, he could have got them into fashion shows and magazines while retaining the limited edition Snapbots. Then, after a few months, he could have put an end to all of his sales, turned existing pairs into collectibles, and saved the mainstream rollout for a possible launch in v2. Unfortunately, Snap seems to be stuck between these exclusive and massive strategies.
Where were the glasses influencers? – To stimulate demand, Snap had to demonstrate all the creative things you could do with Shows and the cool people who wore them. Yet at the time, he still had a very practical approach to dealing with traditional celebrities and web influencers. Snap did not make costume designers with the specs and trained them to use camera glasses as a priority. Instead of the best Snappers constantly publishing circular videos and encouraging fans to do the same, Snap actually let the gadget dry up. Snap allows random show buyers, often too enthusiastic social media enthusiasts, to set the product's image, in the same way that Google's fundamental mistake has allowed geeks developers to become the face of Glass.
Some Examples of Great Content – Born from the failure of Snap to promote a Spectacles creator scene, he did a terrific job of showing how Spectacles could be used beyond the initial advertising. Neither Snap's internal team nor independent social stars have been recruited to make videos exposing the creative opportunities of the device. He did little by event marketing or in-app promotion to encourage content creation show. Karen X. Cheng was perhaps the only influencer of Spectacles to brighten the way, with her first-person mirror dance video and her Spectacles-on-babies publicity, which she helped Brawny to create. But Snap should have ensured that the internet was flooded with these videos proving what you can not do with the camera on your phone, and why you should buy shows.
People are still scared by the camera glasses – Google Glass tainted the market with its design "not sure you're recording me". Even if Snap put more recording lights on the shows, people would still question you if they were in front of the camera. This not only made people feel uncomfortable about being around shows, but made you feel like a little creep just by wearing them even if you've never pressed the button shutter. Their appeal was still limited by their "avant-garde" polarizing design (some would say ugly), while the only non-black colors were aggressively teal and coral.
Limited portability of content – When Spectacles debuted, Snapchat clone Instagram Stories had just launched. But soon reaching more than 250 million daily users, Instagram Stories has grown more than the entire application of Snapchat which now has 173 million. Snap was not the only stories in town, and many people started posting messages between the two apps. But the shows made it difficult. The specifications run in a proprietary circular video format. On Snapchat, you see content in full screen, regardless of the orientation in which you hold your phone. But when exporting, these circular videos are inserted into a white square in a locked orientation. This makes them visibly worn from Snapchat rather than made for these other channels, especially in a rectangular Instagram story. The glasses do not connect to the film of your phone, but to Snapchat, which makes the export of chore. And they did not take pictures, just videos.
Stuck in the blurred sun – The shaded lenses of the glasses made them difficult to wear indoors or at night. This has disqualified many parties, concerts, meals, and people who like hangouts like Snap. Beyond music festivals, beaches, gardens and parks, there is less opportunity to use them than buyers can expect. I saw a guy who had released the lenses so that he could wear them anywhere, but that made their look even more visible. Snap has never entered into an official partnership with companies offering unshaded or prescribed lenses, although some replacement lens suppliers have appeared. This has led some people with vision problems or who stay away from the sun to completely erase the product.
Galore Usability Problems – Having to pair shows with Snapchat instead of the standard Bluetooth menu was boring. Transferring data between the glasses and the phone took forever and easily stopped. They only recorded videos in 720p, not 1080. The videos were clumsily sent in low resolution until a higher resolution version could be delivered. The glasses drain the battery of your phone very quickly. The triangular prism box bulky and strange shape was difficult to put in bags and impossible to put in your pocket. The battery and the recording lights were confused. Sometimes shows would require a "hold shutter button for 55 seconds" button that was not clearly explained on Snap's support pages. And finally, our hands are already incredibly agile, self-stabilized, self-transportable for a camera.
For a v1 product, Spectacles was a brave effort. But it was the stuttered rollout, the lack of promotional support, and the rising competition combined with their material problems the Condemned Spectacles. I hope that v2 will correct these errors. Snap already has a patent for an augmented reality version, and he has put aside other product ideas like a drone.
If Snap really wants to live up to his name as a camera company, he must either put on a single gadget that you want to use several times a week, or launch a series of ephemeral but fun camera toys. In one way or another, one must grasp the hype that it creates rather than letting it fade, and put the work in place to encourage an ecosystem of creators to pioneering videography styles that everyone can try. Building a trendy camera is not limited to the technology you put in it, but encourages the content that comes out of it.