Can Snapchat’s Spectacle V2 Save Its Previous Hardware Blunder?
Snapchat just released version 2 of their Spectacles camera sunglasses, and they've got the tech world buzzing.
At $150 ($20 more than V1), Spectacles V2 go on sale today in the U.S., Canada, U.K., and France. They enter 13 more European markets starting May 3.
The new version features some major upgrades. Spectacles V2 are now waterproof, they take photos in addition to videos, and they feature a slimmer frame and charging case. Colors have also been improved, and the clumsy pairing process of the previous version has been upgraded. V2 even allows users prescription options.
But can the new and improved Spectacle V2 hardware save Snap Inc. from its previous hardware blunder?
Spectacles V1 Was a Flop
When Spectacles V1 was released in November of 2016, it appeared as though Snap was going to take a leap forward in the wearable hardware space. Instagram Stories was launched in August of 2016 as a direct competitor to Snapchat, and Instagram immediately began stealing users from Snapchat. But Snap's venture into hardware was supposed to help it fight off Instagram's move to essentially copy Snapchat's main selling point. Spectacles were sold on a limited basis from pop-up style proprietary vending machines called Snapbots. The limited release and seemingly random appearance of the Snapbot produced some major hype.
Unfortunately, the release of Spectacles didn't provide Snap the growth it was hoping for.
Since the release of Instagram Stories, Snapchat's average unique viewers per Snapchat story declined by about 40 percent in a 5-month span. And as of August of last year, Instagram Stories had 250 million daily users compared to Snapchat's 166 million. Snapchat's monthly active user growth rate declined from 17.2 percent to just 5 percent.
A botched rollout of Spectacles resulted in Snap selling only 220,000 units. Snap ended up losing more than $40 million after hundreds of thousands of Spectacles sat in warehouses unused. For those who did purchase a Spectacle, retention rates were incredibly low.
Are Spectacles V2 Coming to The Rescue?
V2 promises to improve upon V1's serious shortcomings. The new features provide a major upgrade. The rollout of V2 seems to be much smoother as well, based on the fact that you can actually buy Spectacles online immediately upon release. Techcrunch is optimistic about Spectacle V2, but due to the slow user growth of Snapchat and the insane growth of Instagram Stories, I'm dubious that this new version of Spectacles will move the needle much for Snapchat. Remember, Snap lost $720 million last year, so they've got a lot of growing to do.
Personally, I don't use Snapchat anymore. Besides the random Snaps I get from friends who haven't yet adopted Instagram Stories, I've shifted completely over to Instagram Stories. I tend to get a lot more views on my Instagram Stories compared to Snapchat, and because I used Instagram more than Snapchat in the first place, sticking to one photo/video sharing platform made the most sense.
Back when Spectacle V1 was released and I was using Snapchat a lot more than I do now, they seemed like an interesting piece of new tech, but I still didn't buy them. They appeared clunky and unfashionable. I'm also not a fan of the obvious intrusion of privacy that Spectacles and other wearable cameras present. While I am within Spectacle's target market, perhaps celebrity and teen endorsements will push Spectacles into the mainstream.
For now, I'll stick with my Ray Bans and iPhone.