The sudden appearance of a Snapchat pop-up store in Manhattan on Monday created a stir of epic proportions amongst New York’s techerati, with lines snaking around the block as early as 4 a.m.
“The future is here (whether you like it or not),” wrote one social media consultant after snagging a pair of Snapchat’s recording-enabled sunglasses.
The $130 glasses, called Spectacles, are equipped with a 115-degree-angle-lens-camera that is able to record up to 10 seconds of circular video and post it to the user’s Snapchat account.
But getting your hands on a pair of them could prove tricky. Earlier this month, parent company Snap Inc. started dropping Spectacles vending machines for 24-hour periods throughout the country, with the locations a closely guarded secret until just hours before the opening, with a “countdown clock” on its website.
“I set my alarm the night before by the countdown clock on the Spectacles website,” said Nick Abouzeid, a student at Columbia University. “Once inside, I waited another two hours.” For anyone else hoping to snag a pair, he said it would probably take “six to seven hours to get through the line at this point.”
But some people don’t have to wait in line at all: “The man behind me had no idea what he was waiting for,” noted Abouzeid. “He works on TaskRabbit and was hired for $20 an hour to wait in line and purchase two pairs for a client in Brooklyn.”
The pop-up store features exposed white ceilings, 360 flat screens constantly moving with displays of people using the Spectacles, and a standalone Snapbot vending machine.
“The strategy is brilliant; one vending machine in Manhattan is selling something that could easily fly off the shelves in the middle of June. Add the holiday rush, proximity to Apple’s flagship, and absence of online retailers… I admire the company’s first foray into the product,” said Debbie Saslaw, a digital producer.
Some customers experienced a hitch in the store with their credit cards after they were declined, and had to step out of the line to call their credit card company’s fraud department, Abouzeid told NBC News.
But, while the verdict on the pop-up store is positive, the actual sunglasses themselves are facing a mixed reaction.
“I actually stopped using Snapchat months ago, but my new Spectacles brought me back,” said Abouzeid. “They’re perfect to capture fun moments with friends. But I feel odd wearing them at night or inside – the stigma of wearing sunglasses at night still hasn’t gone away.”
Others like Saslaw said that the Spectacles were living up to the hype but that the 10-second limitation “forces them to think twice before hitting record”, and that “the camera doesn’t perform well in low light.”
Nevertheless, style seems to be overpowering substance when it comes to these glasses, and many are using them to capture moments with their pets, friends, at work, and at events.
“They’re unobtrusive, and I don’t automatically look like a character from Westworld [compared] to Google Glass,” Saslaw said.