Snap Confirms Spectacles Unit Sales

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While Snap (NYSE: SNAP) doesn't directly disclose unit sales for Spectacles in its earnings releases or SEC filings, the company has provided some clues regarding this nascent part of the business. Management has shared how much Spectacles revenue it has generated in its two earnings calls as a public company, which investors can then use to calculate approximate unit sales.

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The "camera company" generated $8.3 million in Spectacles revenue in Q1, followed by $5.4 million in Spectacles revenue in Q2. At a retail price of $130, that translates into roughly 106,200 units in the first half of 2017. CEO Evan Spiegel spoke yesterday at Vanity Fair's New Establishment conference and shared a new stat: The company has now sold "over 150,000 units" of Spectacles.

That's better than Spiegel had expected

Spectacles were released in late 2016 to much fanfare following a largely successful marketing campaign that built up significant hype around the new product. The difference between the new disclosure and the 106,200 estimate can be attributed to units that were sold in 2016 as well as what Snap sold in the third quarter of this year, which just closed. (Snap hasn't announced yet when it will report third-quarter results).

Spiegel also added that he had previously expected unit sales to be near 100,000 at this point, so sales thus far have exceeded his expectations.

Snap is focusing on hardware for the long term

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Snap plans on expanding its hardware development efforts, believing that it will be increasingly important to control how users experience Snapchat.

"Our view is that hardware is going to be an important vehicle for delivering our customer experience, maybe in a decade," Spiegel said. "But if we believe it's going to be important in a decade, we don't want to be starting a decade from now."

Just last month, Snap restructured its hardware team, including its leadership. Roughly a dozen employees were laid off within the Spectacles marketing team. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reported over the summer that the company is hard at working developing second-generation Spectacles that could include augmented reality (AR) features.

AR has become a defining feature of Snapchat, allowing users to apply live filters to photos and videos. The company also announced new AR features yesterday at the conference that can overlay art installations through a smartphone's camera. Snap partnered with Jeff Koons for the launch, but hopes to attract other artists to the platform as part of its emphasis on creativity.

Thus far, Spectacles are arguably not worth the effort, since they do not contribute meaningfully to user engagement on the platform. The race for AR smart glasses will require competing with much larger companies with vastly greater resources, including Facebook and Apple, which could explain why Snap is getting the ball rolling now.

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