Snap's Spectacles create a spectacle in LA
Sometimes scarcity is the smartest marketing plan, and it seems Snap - the company that runs Snapchat - is using that to cause a stir with its latest launch.
The company announced its Spectacles in September, and it was clear from the word go that it wanted to eschew the tech press and instead head for a much bigger prize: the fashion crowd.
The sunglasses-plus-camera device takes short videos that can be instantly uploaded to the messaging app that has become incredibly popular among young people.
On Thursday, the first Spectacles went on sale in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, via a cutesy little yellow vending machine which, fittingly, will soon disappear, just like a Snapchat message.
The vending machine (Snap’s calling them Snapbots) will move to a new "exciting" location to be announced in due course - my money’s on New York.
According to those who made it to Venice Beach, the queue grew to well over 100 people, snaking around the car park until they were sold out. It’s not an insignificant impulse buy, either - Spectacles cost $129 each.
What’s significant here is that Snap is doing its level best to avoid the technology crowd. A deliberate and necessary ploy to stop Spectacles becoming a nerdy toy.
Because let’s face it, Google Glass - the last attempt at smart specs - never stood a chance after prominent tech blogger Robert Scoble published a picture of himself wearing them in the shower.
Snap isn’t sending out the toy to tech publications for review, as is the norm with new gadgets. In a statement - which for some reason Snap is asking I don’t quote to you directly - the company is saying it won’t proactively work with the media at all.
Instead it’ll hope curiosity and exclusivity helps Spectacles become a bonafide fashion accessory. It that works, Snap could win big, very big.
And so far the strategy does appear to be working: Spectacles are already appearing on eBay, priced at around $800 a pop.
As well as new hardware, Snap is also betting on people adopting a new circular video format.
And from what we’ve seen so far, it works a treat - I’d much prefer to see circular videos than vertical ones, it feels far more natural to the eye.