Snapchat lost $40 million on its Spectacles — now it’s selling unsold pairs in East London

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Hollis Johnson

  • Snapchat is planning to sell its Spectacles camera-glasses from a special store in East London.
  • The buzzy devices were a flop, with hundreds of thousands going unsold, causing a $40 million (£30 million) loss for the company.

What do you do if you drastically miscalculate demand for your latest gadget, resulting in thousands of unsold devices and a $40 million (£30 million) writedown for your company?

Try to sell the unsold units out of a shipping container in London, of course!

As reported by The Verge, Snapchat parent company Snap is planning to start selling its Spectacles at Boxpark, a trendy shopping unit in Shoreditch, East London.

Alongside the Boxpark “pop-up,” the devices are also starting to be sold in four John Lewis stores across the UK – Oxford Street in London, Kingston, Birmingham, and Leeds. The broader launches follows on from launches in Selfridge’s and Harrods department stores.

Spectacles are sunglasses with a built-in camera that connects to Snapchat, letting users take special circular videos that can be sent in the ephemeral messaging app. There was huge hype around them when they launched, encouraged by how they were sold from cutesy pop-up vending machines.

But Snap failed to turn this buzz into longterm success, and The Information reported in October that there are “hundreds of thousands” of unsold Spectacles sitting in warehouses. The company wrote down almost $40 million in losses on the devices.

And sources have told Business Insider that Snap’s internal data shows that among people who have bought Spectacles, less than half of them continue to use them after the first four weeks.

Boxpark, in Shoreditch, East London.

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Boxpark, in Shoreditch, East London.
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fsse8info/Flickr (CC)

According to Boxpark’s website, the new Snapchat store will open on Saturday, November 11, and will be “the first European home for Spectacles” (they were previously sold from pop-up vending machines).

As well as a store, it frames itself as “an interactive space for the public to come and try out Spectacles – the sunglasses that Snap!”