Late Friday night, media drama ensued. Business Insider broke the story of Snapchat’s (now Snap Inc.) not so secret hardware product. It became clear moments later that the Wall St. Journal had been given the exclusive to announce the new product, and Snapchat’s new company name, to the world. Publishing this late Friday night was most certainly not the plan and was prompted by the leak from Business Insider. The Wall St. Journal published a detailed look at Snap’s new product called Spectacles as well as an interview with CEO Evan Spiegel on why he believed in this product and Snap’s future as a camera company.
Many will compare this to Google Glass. I encourage you to resist the urge. While a healthy bit of skepticism is warranted, these are quite different from Google Glass and, if anything, more similar to GoPro. Spectacles, the name of Snap’s glasses, will also cost $130 instead of the more than $1000 Google Glass cost. Most importantly, in the eyes of their target demographic, Snapchat is much cooler than Google.
Reading the WSJ article, it was this bit from Spiegel’s experience that stood out to me on using the protoype glasses:
He remembers testing a prototype in early 2015 while hiking with his fiancée, supermodel Miranda Kerr. “It was our first vacation, and we went to Big Sur for a day or two. We were walking through the woods, stepping over logs, looking up at the beautiful trees. And when I got the footage back and watched it, I could see my own memory, through my own eyes—it was unbelievable. It’s one thing to see images of an experience you had, but it’s another thing to have an experience of the experience. It was the closest I’d ever come to feeling like I was there again.”
Anyone who has used a GoPro understand the value of this statement. Remember, I’m the guy who wore a GoPro on his head when his kids were little to capture these memories from a first person perspective.
Lot’s of kids have GoPros, especially active ones. They use it to record themselves skateboarding, bike riding, hiking, skiing/snowbarding, swimming, etc. We may as well rename this generation “The Capture Generation”. That is the demographic Snap Inc. understands. These glasses are born out of millenial and Gen Z behavior with their devices and the urge to capture and share as many experiences as possible.
The first generation of any product is hard to make definitive claims regarding its future. You need to be very long on Snap Inc. in order to buy their story about these glasses. That being said, the concept is sound and having capture devices on our person, on our eyes, makes sense at least some day in the future. Even though a low-barrier to entry the Chinese manufactuing ecosystem creates makes it easy for anyone to be in hardware, hardware will remain hard to do. Just because anyone can, doesn’t mean they should. If Snap Inc. can get the best hardware engineers out there (aside from the ones they have plucked from GoPro) then we can take them more seriously.
On an end note, one thing I found interesting was where the camera is are located. If you notice, they are located about eye width apart.
Having two cameras is a key factor in capturing 3D and VR content. Perhaps this is a broader signal of where Snap intends to go.