Every movement begins with a moment.
Snapchat: New Focus, New Name, New Product
Snapchat is venturing beyond messaging and into the world of wearables — and changing its name to reflect its broadening horizons.
In an effort to represent the company’s trajectory, Evan Spiegel and his partners decided to rename the worldwide brand of Snapchat to Snap, Inc. The new moniker better captures the vision of the brand, which is no longer just a social video and photo sharing app. The company is actively making room for innovations outside the application, as evidenced by the launch of its first product, Spectacles.
What Are Spectacles?
Spectacles are sunglasses that allow you to record videos. Designed to work seamlessly (and exclusively) with the Snapchat app, Spectacles can capture videos either 10 or 30 seconds in length. Videos are taken with a 115-degree wide view lens in a circular format that can be watched full-screen on a smartphone in any orientation — not just vertical. Videos taken with Spectacles can be wirelessly offloaded to a phone over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. These videos can be shared via Snapchat at any point and are stored within Memories, a feature that allows users to save recordings for editing and posting at a later time. The battery life should provide users with a full day of snapping, and the portable charging case can fill up to four hours of a recharge.
Quick Specs on Spectacles:
Pitfalls and Potential Success
With Spectacles, Snap risks creating a product with a fate similar to Google Glass (read: it could become an irrelevant tchotchke doomed to languish in the furthest corner of your desk’s bottom drawer). Although the Snap brand comes from a different place than Google, the former has built up a strong foundation of ~60M millennial daily active users on its Snapchat app in North America alone. Google didn’t have that same advantage. In addition to Snap’s ample user base, the publishing partners and brands that have contributed to the platform have done so in ways that are natural to the Snapchat environment. The sponsored creative, for example, aims to have the native feel of videos generated by users, with millennial-friendly fonts and content. Starting with a platform stocked with users who are constantly seeking something new sets Spectacles apart from Google Glass.
The Google Glass Effect. In 2013, Google launched Google Glass, wearable technology in the form of glasses. The product never gained its predicted momentum because it was extremely expensive and hard to operate. Additionally — and unlike Spectacles — Glass was not aesthetically pleasing, making daily use challenging. Snap clearly took these missteps into account when designing Spectacles. Another advantage: Snap has the ecosystem for the recordings to plug into (Google did not). Snap also made Spectacles friendlier to the public by including a front-facing light that signals that the camera is in use, which is key to promoting privacy. Both the origin and introduction of Spectacles differentiates the product from the “geeky” developer-friendly release of Google Glass. For its promotion, Snap not only featured its young CEO sporting a pair of the sunglasses, it simultaneously launched a website peppered with images of millennials donning and using brightly colored Spectacles.
Second (Place) Camera. Consumers already carry their preferred camera with them everywhere via their mobile phones. Spectacles will have to prove it is a true contender when it comes to replacing everyone’s current go-to device for capturing key moments on film — including high-activity photo ops. Another potential concern is that Spectacles have to be worn on your head. This limits the range of motion significantly and could also result in some very shaky footage.
Living in the Moment. The flip side of the second camera debate is that Spectacles will contribute to the “live in the moment” feel that Snapchat fosters on its platform via ephemeral content and Live Stories. For example, Spectacles could be a way for concert-goers to tear down the wall they create when they hold up their phones between themselves and their favorite artists. And when paired with Memories, Spectacles could eliminate the distractions of captions, emojis and filters that are sometimes necessary evils for quick videos and photos.
Making Augmented Reality Tech More Accessible. This first version of Spectacles is just the beginning for Snap. Future iterations may look to include filters, lenses, “find other Spectacles,” etc. Snap has essentially created the first generation of what could become an integrated augmented reality experience for the general public — a product that is affordable and inherently tuned into the user experience. Spectacles open the door for Snap’s visionary hardware experts to bring this attainable technology to millions of active Snapchat users. Currently, Snap considers Spectacles a “toy” but that doesn’t mean the product doesn’t have the potential to revolutionize social sharing or wearable tech.
What’s Next for Marketers?
The rollout of Snap’s Spectacles has a vastly different trajectory than Google Glass. These recording sunglasses will likely be picked up by “super users” or highly influential Snappers on Snapchat, such as celebrities, models, musicians, personalities and other influencers on the app. Snap CEO Spiegel even mentioned that the company will be taking a slow approach to rolling out Spectacles as they determine how the product will fit into people’s daily lives.
Opportunities for marketers have not yet been dictated by Snap, but innovative and significant efforts could manifest in branded Spectacles or influencer programs. Leveraging the product’s hardware in this manner would allow for sponsored content to have the native look and feel of everyday content. Smart advertisers will purchase a pair so their brands can create content for organic handles with Spectacles’ wide lens feel.
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