Snap, the company formerly known as Snapchat, on Friday revealed its first non-app product: Spectacles, a pair of camera-equipped glasses designed to let users easily take photos and videos of life as they experience it.
If this sounds familiar, that's because Snap's Spectacles are similar to Glass, Google's ambitious wearable gadget that ultimately failed in embarrassingly public fashion. The device never managed to catch on with mainstream users, and it drew the ire of privacy pundits. Spectacles may resemble Glass in form, but beyond that, Snap has taken several measures to ensure its set of glasses will be a hit with the masses and not another wearable flop.
For starters, the price point for Spectacles is $129.99. That's pennies compared to the $1,500 Google charged when it came out with Glass in 2013. Spectacles can't do nearly as much as Glass. For example, Glass could capture photos and video, allowed users to listen to audio, connected to the internet, could run apps, and came with a tiny screen you could use for things like reading text messages. Spectacles, on the other hand, is much simpler. It has two camera lenses, located at the corners of the frames, and that's about it.
Spectacles may not be able to do as much as Glass, but it's far more affordable. That alone gives it a broader potential customer base.
Additionally, Snap does not appear to plan on making Spectacles difficult to purchase. When Glass was coming out, Google required that users write 50-word micro-essays via social media explaining how they would use the device. Interested customers had to be deemed worthy by Google before receiving the right to pay $1,500 for the device. This put a lot of pressure on potential customers and a ton of friction in the transaction process. Additionally, it immediately contributed to Glass's perception of being a product for hardcore techies, not the masses.
Snap has yet to detail its plans for Spectacles' rollout. The company has only said that the gadget will be available soon and have a limited release, but aside from that, there is no evidence that the Los Angeles company is planning to include an essay question.
Perhaps the starkest difference between the two wearable devices is the definition of their purpose. While Google asked customers to explain what they would use Glass for, Snap has already made Spectacles' use concrete: It is a camera that shoots 10-second video clips for the purpose of creating memories. That's it.
When a consumer ponders if they should purchase Spectacles, they won't have to waste time asking themselves what they would use that tool for. Snap has already made at least one specific use case clear. With Glass, Google never defined the purpose, and as a result, consumers never really quite understood why they would need such a device. Without clarifying its purpose, it became easy for many to believe that Glass was a tool for creepers.
One final point is the design of the two gadgets. Each one is a perfect reflection of the company that made it. Glass was a nerdy-looking gadget that no one in their right mind, outside of geeks and people in science fiction movies, would ever wear seriously.
Spectacles, on the other hand, look silly. They come in black, teal, or coral and feature lenses that are almost comically large. They don't take themselves seriously. As Snap puts it, they're a toy. They're fun, just like Snapchat.