Last week, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel rebranded the company as Snap Inc., and introduced its first-ever piece of hardware in the form of Spectacles — sunglasses that also serve as a video recording device that can synch wirelessly up to mobile phones, according to a feature in the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports Spectacles will be in limited release and cost $129.99, and that Spiegel referred to the product as "a toy."
The Spectacles announcement was preceded by the appearance of the new Snap to Unlock ad platform for marketers that includes a feature called Snapcodes, which are real-world promotions that users can take a picture of in order to access material in-app, per an article in AdAge.
AdAge reports that Snap to Unlock and its QR code-esque tools will become more available to marketers going into the holiday shopping season, and will introduce more "sophisticated experiences" like the app's popular animated lenses in the future.
Snapchat, a social media brand known for an intangibility embodied by the 24-hour lifespan of its titular snaps, is becoming a lot more tangible with the introduction of hardware like Spectacles and interactive real-world marketing features like Snap to Unlock.
These developments signal that Spiegel and his company are eager to experiment in spaces that aren't strictly digital, especially now that they've established themselves as more than comfortable social media players with an expected user base growth of 27% this year alone, according to forecasts made by eMarketer.
By bridging digital and real-world experiences, Snapchat is also making its platform more appealing to marketers, who are looking to engage consumers on their phones throughout the path to purchase.
And though Spiegel referred to Spectacles as a "toy," the introduction of hardware this early in the company's development shows an open mindedness and diversification that was rarely seen amongst Snapchat's competitors at this stage in their development. While an $130 price tag might be too steep for users to buy into the limited-run specs, it'll be interesting to see whether the product is a one-off goof or a suggestion of bigger things to come.
The freshly re-titled Snap Inc. has previously resisted integrating any manner of optimized marketing into its platform, but just earlier this month announced three new ad targeting tools for advertisers to utilize — upgrades that might pair nicely with the Snap to Unlock promos if they catch on with consumers.