Snap, fka Snapchat and best known for its ephemeral photo-sharing and messaging app, has announced it will be releasing its first physical product: a pair of glasses with a camera implanted in the frames. Users will be able to tap a spot near the hinge of the glasses and record up to 10 seconds of video to be shared with their following.
The company is calling the glasses "Spectacles," and they'll be available this fall in three colors for a price of $130.
The move is interesting for Snap as it will free itself from having to use another company’s hardware, i.e. the iPhone and Android cameras. Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snap, pointed out in interview with The Wall Street Journal that having control over the camera opens up many new opportunities for the company. And it appears Snap will be putting a lot of emphasis on similar products moving forward, as its new website decrees "Snap Inc. is a camera company."
It's hard to overlook that Spectacles are rather reminiscent of a certain Google product that famously fell on its face. While there's debate around why Google Glass failed (I’d argue mostly it was just too early), it’s easy to draw comparisons between Glass and Snap's new offering. As of now, it appears Spectacles will have a lot less functionality than what Google Glass offered, making the use cases different. Google Glass was marketed as something one would wear at all times to augment day-to-day life, while Spectacles seems more like something you would wear specifically when in an exciting environment, like a birthday party or concert. It’s also been over three years since Google Glass was initially released, possibly giving the world enough time to warm up to the idea of a wearable camera on your face. Spectacles' price point is also much lower than the $1,500 Google was charging for Glass.
Rumors have swirled recently that Snap is seriously considering an IPO in the near future. The company reportedly met with investment banks and secured a new line of credit from Morgan Stanley earlier this month.
Launched in 2011, the company has raised north of $2.5 billion in funding from a long list of investors including Benchmark Capital, SV Angel, Spark Capital, Sequoia and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The company most recently secured a $1.8 billion round in May at a valuation of $17.8 billion.
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