Welp, it looks like Snap’s Spectacles are going the way of Google Glass. At least Google knew when to quit.
News reports surfaced today that Snap has literally “hundreds of thousands” of Spectacles sitting in inventory, ready for the holiday season. The problem: the demand for them seems to be nonexistent.
After a hot start which saw customers “flooding” stores or paying exorbitant prices on eBay, and at least one article lauding the marketer behind the product as a “genius,” exclaiming that “we all want a pair,” sales of the glasses have been steadily declining. The one person who seemingly failed to notice all this: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.
I began to wonder what could be behind this gradual, yet surprising drop-off in sales, especially as it occurred in a product so highly regarded during its initial rollout. It’s not like serious malfunctions have since been uncovered in the device, nor does it explode in your face like some other tech.
For a second I thought perhaps it was because the glasses look so dumb. A quick tour through the eyewear currently on display on people’s faces in New York City, however, quickly dispelled me of that notion; as far as eyewear is concerned, Spectacles–even with their bright yellow circles in the corner–are rather conservative.
A visit to the online store for Snap’s Spectacles revealed to me–along with the shocking fact that Snap produced mobile vending machines specifically for selling Spectacles–that Snap’s marketing angle for the product was as follows (emphasis mine):
“Spectacles capture the moment — without taking you out of it! Just press the button to start recording your world, the way you see it, in our unique circular format. With on-the-go charging and wireless syncing to Snapchat, you’ll never miss a moment.”
This got me thinking: perhaps consumer’s rebuke of Spectacles is a sign that what Snap thought was their product’s greatest strength was actually a weakness; people don’t want to remain in the moment, they want an excuse to get out of it.
Consider two prominent examples of cellphone recordings which have caught the ire of others: recording at concerts and shooting at museums. In each case, it is likely that the pulling-out-and-shooting-with-their-phone action is simply a reaction to having no idea what to do otherwise. Both of these arenas involve activities–dancing, contemplation of art–which many of us, due to heightened self-awareness or the influx of irony in our culture, no longer know how to perform, especially not in public.
The pulling out of the phone, then, while it serves the utilitarian purpose of recording our experience for ourselves or others to see later, also allows us to, yes, escape the moment. It gives us something to do other than being fully present, and we like that because, well, being present in the 21st century is pretty darn hard.