Snapchat’s first foray into hardware was, well, disastrous. The company’s smart glasses, Spectacles, were priced at $130 and, at first, sold in pop-up vending machines around the United States. Lines were long. The hype was good. If you got your hands on a spare pair — the vending machines let each customer buy two at a time — you could flip them on eBay for a decent chunk of change. But the excitement fizzled after Snapchat started selling the glasses more widely and made them available online. Evan Spiegel, in a letter to investors in 2018, admitted that the company grossly overestimated demand for the product and lost $39.9 million in unsold devices. Today, Snapchat is trying, once more, to make Spectacles happen.
Specs 2.0 look pretty similar to their predecessors. The same rounded lenses with cameras mounted at each temple. They come in three colors, which Snap is calling onyx, ruby, and sapphire. (The previous version came in black, orange, and teal. The newer colors are more muted, which is nice if you want to wear something that doesn’t entirely scream, THERE IS A CAMERA BUILT INTO THESE!!) The new devices are water-resistant and operate entirely in HD, unlike Specs 1.0, which, well, weren’t and didn’t. Snap is promising four times faster transfer speeds when you want to download your content from the glasses to your phone. Spectacles 2.0 retail for $150 — $20 more than Specs 1.0 — and are available today in the United States, Canada, France, and the United Kingdom. (More countries in Europe can expect Spectacles in May.)
Earlier this week, Snapchat reportedly began testing a roll back on its widely loathed app redesign. This couldn’t come at a better time if Snapchat really thinks it has a shot at getting people to spend even more money than before on its hardware. You can’t use Spectacle without the Snap app. And if users can’t, or won’t, use the Snap app, that doesn’t bode well for sales.