Today in Venice Beach, the invasion has begun. After forming parent company Snap Inc this September, the founders of Snapchat are ready to roll out their next product, Spectacles. A new take on wearable tech, they are the fusion of glasses and video cameras. With Spectacles, first-person videos can be recorded, directly uploaded into a Snapchat account, and saved for further viewing. But despite the hype surrounding the launch, these won’t be sold in stores. For the next few months, they will be sold exclusively by big yellow talking vending machines, or “Snapbots.” For $130 a pop and for one day only, Spectacles will be sold in these new wave ‘pop-up’ shops. Today, the Snapbot is in Venice Beach. But tomorrow?
With over 7 billion views per day, Snapchat has their finger on the button of today’s tech users. Spectacles, and by extension the Snapbots, are an attempt to continue Snap Inc’s dedication to fostering trend and buzz. But there are risks to this new distribution tactic. For starters, the price. $130 for a new to market product is a much steeper price compared with the freemium Snapchat. Snap Inc seeks to solve this problem by using the Snapbot to show off a few uses of the product. When approached, it will offer passerbys a preview of Spectacles video footage being played back. Three buttons—colored teal, black and coal—can be pushed to manipulate the vending machine’s digital screen ala a Snapchat lens, letting individuals see the lens in the trio of colors over their faces. The exterior of the Spectacles come in the three colors as well. However, will this display and novelty be enough to convince people to get out their credit cards?
Another risk is the localization of the Snapbot army. For today’s launch, the Snapbot has been stationed in Los Angeles on Venice Beach. But tomorrow, it will have moved on. Indeed, every day will see the Snapbot move to a different location, with no clues or warnings for buyers to guess its next location. This will be Spectacle’s only means of distribution for the next few months. Snap Inc is putting its faith in the ‘1-day-only’ pop up mentality, recently made popular by Kanye West, who famously made over $1 million in a single weekend.
The fan base is there. The buzz is real. The method is respectable. But will it pay off? Determining that will require daily check-ins with the ‘story’ of Snapbot, and to see if it can make friends on its travels.