A messaging app with a function to make your texts disappear: sounds like a bad idea, right? Well, not exactly. This concept has turned Snapchat into one of the most popular messaging apps in the world, with approx. 178 million worldwide daily active users absolutely loving the idea. Snapchat’s popular ‘Stories’ feature was copied by Instagram, WhatsApp, and everyone in between, with internet memes joking that even Microsoft Excel would have its own ‘Stories’ feature. The company behind the app, Snap Inc., could seemingly do no wrong, that is until they released Snapchat Spectacles.
For a price tag of $130, the Spectacles can record 10-second video clips from your own point-of-view and then upload those to your account. Sounds cool on paper, but in reality? Apparently not so cool. Snap Inc. expects to lose a hefty $50 million on the incredibly unpopular Spectacles, with stocks dropping nearly 20% when the announcement was made. Sure, the company sold a lot of the Spectacles, but nowhere near as much as predicted. Somewhere, there’s a warehouse full of unsold stock.
So, why exactly did they fail?
Gimmick, novelty, fad. Call them what you want, but the Snapchat Spectacles were a passing thing. Despite reports of lines stretching as far as the eye can see when the glasses were released in certain cities via vending machines on November 10th last year, the hype soon faded (like many fads) and Snap Inc. began selling online through their official website. The gap between the product announcement and being able to actually purchase the things was also way too long, perhaps only a few months, but that’s an eternity when things move fast in tech-fashion.
Who wants to labeled a creep just for wearing Snapchat Spectacles? No one. As 1&1 discussed on its digital guide, not knowing when other people were filming was a large problem for passersby. The thought of a stranger wearing tinted glasses with the ability to film you is not something most people enjoy. The article writes: “A poll carried out by YouGov in September 2016 found that 47% of people (55% of women and 39% of men) said that they would feel uncomfortable around a stranger wearing Snapchat Spectacles, while over 35% (40% of women and 31% of men) would be uncomfortable around a friend wearing them.”
People’s right to privacy, it seems, is a much bigger issue than Snap Inc. ever considered, despite exactly the same problem facing the similarly ill-fated Google Glass.
Fear of looking like a dork
Let’s consider the locations where people are most likely to be posting pictures and videos on Snapchat: parties, restaurants, bars, concerts, shopping malls, cinemas, gyms, airports, offices, and sports arenas.
Now, let’s consider the locations where you’d likely be heavily embarrassed to wear Snapchat Spectacles: parties, restaurants, bars, concerts, shopping malls, cinemas, gyms, airports, offices, and sports arenas. Get the idea? The places where Snapchat thrives are also public areas where you don’t want to feel like a total dork. This is a massive reason as to why the Spectacles idea didn’t take off (which are even more of a problem for people with impaired eyesight). Sure, you can wear them at places where sunglasses aren’t completely weird, like at home, parks, beaches, or theme parks, but these locations clearly weren’t enough for people to part with $130.
We like innovation as much as the next person, but we also know what makes a good gadget and what makes a disastrous one. No one is putting Snapchat Spectacles on their holiday wish list. No more tech glasses, please.