In no uncertain terms, Snap's (NYSE: SNAP) Spectacles line of wearable cameras have been a troublesome distraction thus far. After taking an embarrassing $40 million charge last year due to underwhelming demand and ordering way too many units, the Snapchat operator launched second-generation Spectacles earlier this year. The refreshed version looked similar but included some improved features like faster transfer speeds and higher-quality cameras, but those upgrades came with a $20 price bump to $150.
Snap has just announced new styles of its second-generation Spectacles. Here's what investors need to know.
They look pretty normal, which is a good thing
Snap is tweaking the aesthetic design of Spectacles with the new styles, making them look more approachable and essentially like an inconspicuous pair of sunglasses. The two new styles are black with polarized lenses and are dubbed "Nico" and "Veronica." They can capture up to 70 videos or hundreds of photos before needing to recharge, according to Snap. Transfers can be made wirelessly, and the sunglasses are still water-resistant.
Snap says it will be adding a new feature to the Snapchat platform this year that will automatically curate Snaps taken on Spectacles to create a Highlight Story. Making it easier and more convenient to create and share content could help boost engagement, which was remarkably poor to begin with. For example, CEO Evan Spiegel's comments last year suggested Spectacles represented just 0.002% of all Snaps in Q1 2017. Snap tells TechCrunch that the second-generation Spectacles were getting 40% more usage than the first-generation models, but that doesn't say a whole lot given what we know about engagement with the first-generation version.
The new Spectacles styles each cost $200 and go on sale today.
But will they sell?
Beyond a vague passing mention last month about "learning a lot" and iterating based on customer feedback, Snap hasn't really talked about Spectacles or its hardware ambitions much in recent quarters. The company has started disclosing "other revenue" in regulatory filings, which it says primarily consists of Spectacles.
Second-generation Spectacles were launched in the second quarter to little fanfare, resulting in a modest sequential bump in sales. At $130 per pair in the first quarter, that suggests Snap sold a little over 11,500 units. Without knowing the product mix after the second-generation launch in the second quarter, Snap sold somewhere between 12,000 and 13,800 units. Snap has sold a couple hundred thousand units total to date.
It's also worth noting that both of those quarters were down meaningfully relative to 2017, which was shortly after the first-generation Spectacles launched in late 2016. Other revenue was $8.4 million Q1 2017 and $5.4 million in Q2 2017. Snap clearly still thinks hardware is strategically important to its future as a "camera company," but it has yet to prove that argument to investors.
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