Snapchat's 'Spectacles' - A Newer, Better version of Google Glass
Evan Spiegel, a student at the time enrolled at Stanford, founded Snapchat in 2011. Upon creating the app he dropped out of college to focus all of his attention on the messaging technology. PatSnap Insights reveals that in the last 6 years the company has applied for an increasing number of patents each year, which might seem strange as the company has only one product. Snapchat’s innovation rate has already therefore hinted towards the desire to diversify and create new products for some time. At the end of September 2016 this was confirmed, as the company renamed to Snap Inc, in line with its increasing product footprint.
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This year Snap Inc. unveiled its new product ‘Spectacles’, a pair of sunglasses with a small camera attached that connects to the Snapchat application. This has been an interesting move on Snap Inc.’s behalf. Entering the wearables space after the disaster that was Google Glass does not come without risk. This is why Spiegel has decided to only release a limited number of the product in order to test the waters to see if the spectacles are well received.
The main issue with Google Glass was that people felt very uncomfortable around users wearing them. It was a social faux pas as people felt insecure due to the possibility of them being filmed. It also didn’t help that there were rumors of facial recognition with connectivity to Facebook. In order for ‘Spectacles’ to be a success, Snap Inc. is going to have to give some serious thought to the issues of privacy that Google faced. However, the Snapchat application also faced the same doubt when it was first mentioned - and now it has a bigger client base than Twitter!
One major difference between Google Glass and Spectacles is that Snap Inc.’s version looks very bright and playful and has even been dubbed by the CEO as ‘more of a toy’. This will make it appealing to the younger generations who use Snapchat on a daily basis and who contribute to the massive total of 9,000 snaps that are sent per second through the app. The second main differentiator is that the spectacles will retail for $129 whereas the Google Glasses cost up to $1000.
To give more of a general view of wearables, here is a geographical breakdown of the top filing regions for wearables around the globe. The thermometer on the left indicates the more densely patented regions on the map. The red region, covering parts of the US holds 8,841 patents, which represents 46% of the world's share of patents related to wearables. The USA declared 2015 to be 'the year of healthcare for wearable’s and in a recent survey found that 40% of participants were interested in buying a smart watch.
Whilst I am quite looking forward to the release of the Snapchat 'Spectacles' this Autumn, there are many who are opposed to the product. Having read aggressive posts on the internet about the Spectacles being invasive and ugly, it will be intriguing to see what will happen next and whether this product will be a complete disaster like Google Glass or an absolute success like Snapchat in 2011.