Snap launches, an e-commerce site where shoppers can buy sunglasses with a built-in camera.

Snap Inc., the parent company of the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat, today launched, an e-commerce site where shoppers can buy Spectacles, which are sunglasses with a built-in camera.

The site launch comes only days after Snap regulatory filing said the company plans to price its IPO between $14 and $16 a share, which would value the company between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion.

“I hesitate to use the word gimmick, but that’s what [the launch] is,” says Rebecca Lieb, an independent media analyst. “It’s a very clever gimmick. It’s creating publicity and PR value. The fact that you’re calling me about it is evidence of that. Spectacles aims to make the company look cool, edgy and groundbreaking. That’s not untrue, but I doubt they will get widely picked up and adopted.”

Snap’s approach to Spectacles has largely been aimed at garnering attention. Snap first began selling the $129 product via vending machines, which it promotes by tweeting an image of the machine without explanation when it places the machine in a new spot. While it also sold Spectacles in a New York City pop-up shop, Snap’s regulatory filing says the company has failed to generate “significant revenue” from the product.

In part, that’s because production of Spectacles was purposely kept low to create a shortage and build consumer demand, Lieb says. Snap’s filing suggests it plans to boost its Spectacles-related production and operating costs, as well as invest in inventory, marketing, distribution and product innovation. Even so, the e-commerce site notes that Spectacles will ship within two to four weeks.


Snap’s approach to Spectacles makes Lieb skeptical that hardware is where the company is heading.

“The future of Snap isn’t Spectacles,” she says. “The future is advertising.”

Snap’s advertising revenue to date is minimal—it generated $404.5 million in ad revenue last year. However, that’s a sharp increase from $58.7 million in 2015. It’s also a far cry from the $2.248 billion in ad revenue Twitter Inc. generated last year and a modicum of the $26.885 billion in ad revenue Facebook Inc. generated. But Snap is a different platform and the ads that retailers use to drive sales on it will likely be distinct from those on other social networks, Lieb says.

Snap could not be reached for comment on its objectives.