snapchat spectacles video recording glasses

Screengrab via Justin Tse/YouTube

Snapchat ordered ‘hundreds of thousands’ of Spectacles—then nobody bought them

The company's CEO said 150,000 units have been sold.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Oct 23, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 1:30 pm CDT

“Hundreds of thousands” of Snapchat Spectacles are reportedly sitting unsold in warehouses, according to a report from The Information, citing “two people close to the company.”

The report claims Snap vastly overestimated the demand for its video-recording glasses during last year’s holiday season and ordered way too many parts. It’s not clear how many units the company expected to ship during that time, but earlier this month, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said it sold “over 150,000 units” total. That means Snapchat may have more Spectacles collecting dust than being used in homes.

Snapchat’s first hardware product enjoyed a period of hype generated by an intriguing sales approach. The $130 Spectacles were originally only sold in smiling vending machines that randomly popped up in different cities. It didn’t take long before people were camping out to be the first ones to get their hands on the elusive device. At one point, Spectacles sold on eBay for more than $1,000.

When they first launched, Spectacles were a refreshing break from the predictable changes being made to other social platforms. The glasses let users capture up to 30 seconds of video by pushing a button on the side. The footage would be stored to Snapchat’s Memories and could then be shared from a user’s mobile device. But things started to go downhill in February when Snap announced it would take a more traditional approach by selling its camera-equipped glasses online.

Spiegel tried to polish his sales figures last month by claiming the Spectacles outsold Apple’s original iPod. Spiegel then tempered immediate expectations, giving Spectacles a 10-year timeline for when he expects them to start making a difference for the company.

“Our view is that hardware is going to be an important vehicle for delivering our customer experience maybe in a decade,” Spiegel said at a conference earlier this month. “But if we believe it’s going to be important in a decade, we don’t want to be starting a decade from now.”

But Snapchat may not have that long. Its user growth is slowing and its been trading under its IPO price for almost a year. Last month, it reportedly laid off about a dozen employees working for the hardware division’s marketing team.

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*First Published: Oct 23, 2017, 2:37 pm CDT