For the past several months, nabbing a pair of Snapchat Spectacles meant waiting patiently in an hours-long line for your turn at a bright yellow vending machine. But no longer. On Monday, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, began shipping its video-equipped sunglasses to U.S. customers for $130 at Spectacles.com.
On the heels of the wider Spectacles launch, Snap has shut down the pop-up vending machines — “Snapbots,” the company calls them — through which it had exclusively sold Spectacles, including the semi-permanent storefront it launched New York City in late November. But the shutdown is not permanent. “Snapbots will continue to land in surprising locations around the U.S. following a brief ‘nap,'” a Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch.
The timing is conspicuous, to say the least. Earlier this month, Snap filed an initial public offering with a valuation estimated between $25 billion and $30 billion, making it the highest U.S. tech IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, Ltd. debuted at $168 billion in 2014. But in the intervening weeks, the company has been dogged by concerns about revenue. Last year, Snap recorded a net loss of half a billion dollars ($514.6 million). And in its IPO filing, Snap noted that it “[expects] to incur operating losses in the future, and may never achieve or maintain profitability.”
Unsurprisingly, Snap is searching for a new revenue driver, and Snapchat’s audience of 158 million global active daily users make for a great start. “It’s about us figuring out if it fits into people’s lives and seeing how they like [products like Spectacles],” Snap CEO Evan Spiegal told The Wall Street Journal. “Response has been positive since November’s launch so we’re now happy to be able to make Spectacles more readily available — especially for those in the U.S. who have not been able to make it to a Snapbot.”
That said, Snap doesn’t expect to turn a profit on Spectacles right away. In its recent S-1 filing for its initial public offering, Snap revealed that it is pouring investment into inventory, marketing, and distribution for the $130 video-equipped glasses. “The launch of Spectacles […] has not generated significant revenue for us,” the company admitted in its IPO filing. “We expect to experience production and operating costs related to Spectacle that will exceed the related revenue in the near future.”
Spectacles ordered online are expected to ship in the next two weeks. They are available alongside optional $50 charging cases and $10 charging cords, which were previously available on Amazon.
Article originally published on 02-19-2017. Updated on 02-20-2017 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news that Snapchat Spectacles are now available for purchase online.
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