Snapchat Spectacles: Plenty of Buzz, Not a Lot of Product - eMarketer

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Snapchat Spectacles: Plenty of Buzz, Not a Lot of Product

Consumers are eagerly looking for the yellow pop-up vending machines

December 7, 2016 | Mobile | Social Media

Snapchat’s “Spectacles” have generated a lot of press, and some glowing reviews, but how excited are consumers about trying out the video-recording sunglasses?

US Snapchat Users and Penetration, 2014-2020 (millions, % change and % of social network users)

Snapchat announced Spectacles in September and the first batch of sunglasses went on sale in November near its headquarters in Venice, CA. Since then, Snap Inc. seems to have been more active in promoting the product than in distributing it: Spectacles are only available from a pop-up shop in New York and from yellow vending machines—dubbed Snapbots—that pop up periodically, mainly in California.

So has the promotional effort piqued consumer interest? To get a sense of that, eMarketer reached out to Hitwise, a division of Connexity, to find out how many people were searching for the product online. Turns out, roughly 124,000 people in the US searched for either Snapchat spectacles or Snapchat glasses during the past month.

That’s not an insignificant number but it’s barely a bug on the windshield compared to Snapchat’s US user base, which eMarketer estimates at 58.6 million.

Meanwhile, according to Google Trends, searches for "Snapchat Spectacles" surpassed those for "Google Glass" in November, but not by much.

The Google Glass phenomenon is an object lesson for Snapchat: Google’s announcement of Google Glass created a frenzy of interest in 2012 and 2013. Interest (and anxiety) about the product led West Virginia lawmakers to propose a bill outlawing the use of Google Glass while driving—a month before the first pair shipped.

Ultimately, Google shelved the Glass product in early 2015, after public curiosity morphed to mockery and ultimately to disinterest. (For an entertaining history of Glass, check out Glass Almanac.)

A key difference between Snapchat Spectacles and Google Glass is price: Spectacles retail for $130; Glass carried a $1,500 price tag.

Right now, consumers appear to be willing to go to extra lengths to get a pair of Spectacles. Most recently, Mashable reported that a Snapbot vending machine appeared inside Skyspace LA, an observation deck. Not only did people have to stand on line for hours to buy the sunglasses, but they also had to buy a ticket up to the observation deck to stand on that very line.

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