Snap Inc. describes itself as a camera company, with hardware described as “glasses with a built-in camera” costing $130 that take ten-second videos with a 115º lens, comparable to the human eye’s scope.
In a lengthy and worthy interview with the WSJ, founder and owner Evan Spiegel explains the thinking behind the glasses as a way of freeing people from having to use smartphones to make videos, describing them as a “wall in front of your face”, allowing the user to create snippets that are as much like memories as possible. The idea is to leave people’s hands free and to create round videos, arguing that screens are square because photographs were originally printed this way.
The object or scene being filmed is surrounded by a small ring that turns yellow when filming. Each time you press the button you record 10 seconds from your point of view. It is possible to store several videos.
The company has released a limited advertising campaign on billboards featuring a yellow version of its ghost logo with its eyes converted into the camera’s viewfinder. It has also released a short video to explain the concept:
Redefining a company is no easy move, and in this case, becoming a software player is even riskier.
The Snapchat app is now used on a daily basis by 41% of Americans aged between 18 and 34, generating more than one billion videos a day, while more than 10 billion are watched. The app has now become the way that growing numbers of young people choose to communicate with each other.
But persuading those young people to shell out $130 for a pair of glasses to use the app will not be easy, and comparisons with Google’s unsuccessful glasses immediately spring to mind. As we all should know by now, hardware is hard. That said, the glasses look fun, coming in black, coral and teal, and will be rolled out over the coming three months based on initial sales, user feedback and adoption.
I can’t think of many companies prepared to undertake such a radical redefinition. Who knows whether the gamble will pay off? In any event, this is such a left-field move that it deserves to be watched.
(En español, aquí)