Snap Spectacles 3 and the AR Generation

Snap announced their latest Spectacles today called the Spectacles 3. To no one’s surprise, the prior two generations sold in extremely low quantities and the jury is still out if Snap can ever succeed in hardware. That being said, there are some interesting features that are showcase some of the fun parts of Augmented Reality worth highlighting as well as Snap’s positioning with Gen Z, who may likely be the first demographic to truly embrace AR from a consumer standpoint.

The Hardware
Spectacles 3 are still an evolution in design. This generation 3 is still awkward looking and certainly focusing on a certain design aesthetic.

The biggest addition in generation 3 is the addition of another camera specifically to capture depth. The addition of the second camera for depth is where Snap will be able to integrate their augmented reality filters that are no so overwhelmingly popular with Gen Z. The short video promotion for Spectacles 3 shows some AR features for the first time that are very Snapchat in design. Things like having animations, filters, and even AR objects in the world. While simplistic, at $380 Spectacles 3 may likely be the cheapest way to get your hands on a glasses first augmented reality experience.

Given the rising popularity of filters on Snapchat, it is becoming clear that Snapchat is the home, today, of the most active user base of daily augmented reality experiences. Let’s call it an early lead as an AR platform for Snap.

Let’s not miss the broader point here around Spectacles. Yes they are ugly (subjective opinion), yes they are pricey for what is essentially still a toy, yes they will not sell in volume. That being said, Snap is learning by shipping, and that is a key strategy for them as they build out their platform, and build it out specifically around AR. While Snap may ultimately not be in the hardware business long term, it is important they continue to build the third party developer part of the Snap platform and prepare those developers and Snap’s developer tools for the future of head-mounted computers.

This is baby steps, and I see it as a viable strategy for Snap as they keep preparing for the AR future.

The AR Generation
In case I don’t say it enough, I am the parent of two Gen Z girls. I also have exposure to dozens of Gen Z kids on a daily basis thanks to my involvement with my girl’s high school. Not just from my daily interactions with this generation, but from many different research reports, it is hard to ignore the fact that Snap has such a captive and engaged audience as generation Z. Most teens and pre-teens time is spent on either Snapchat or Instagram. And when I really observe their behavior, it seems Snapchat is more highly used than even Instagram, but in particular, used for very different things.

But what becomes clear is how comfortable this generation is becoming blending the physical and virtual realities. They do this regularly in their video chats with friends in Snapchat, where filters are applied, and the digital and physical world collide. It is safe to assume as more of these AR experiences become available within Snapchat they will adopt them quickly. I already see my girl’s social circles light up whenever one of them discovers a new filter and they all rush to try it (not unlike the FaceApp brief craze from a few weeks ago).

I’m becoming increasingly convinced this generation will be the first to adopt augmented reality glasses and do so quickly broadly. Which makes Snapchat’s/Snap’s near-universal grip on this demographic interesting, especially in the US but broader global trends seem to be emerging as well at least in the developed world.

I believe Snap feels a generational shift could occur once Gen Z becomes one of the more powerful demographics. One that could help them compete if a platform opportunity emerges post smartphones. Snap could feel they are in a position to be the AR platform and possibly displace Apple or Google due to Gen Z’s deep engagement with the Snapchat platform. While I still think Apple sits in the best position out of the gate with AR, nothing is set in stone, and there is a debate to be had about Snap’s role if a platform shift occurs. Especially if we believe Get Z is the AR generation, then I do feel it opens the door for competition a bit more than previously thought.

Yes, I’m going to look ridiculous, but I plan on getting Gen 3 Spectacles, for research purposes of course.

Published by

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *