Why I waited in line for Snapchat Spectacles

Share This Story!

Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about

Why I waited in line for Snapchat Spectacles

“Crazy, insane, nuts.” That's what waiting on line for Spectacles feels like. And yet...

Loading…Post to Facebook
{# #}
CancelSend

Sent!

A link has been sent to your friend's email address.

Posted!

A link has been posted to your Facebook feed.

Join the Nation's Conversation

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Why I waited in line for Snapchat Spectacles

Edward C. Baig , USA TODAY 6:32 p.m. EST November 23, 2016
636155215566127131-Ed-Baig-buys-Spectacles.jpg

Ed Baig buys Spectacles from a Snapbot(Photo: Eli Blumenthal, USA TODAY)

“Crazy, insane, nuts.”

Those were a few of the choice words I uttered under my breath as I walked the line of mostly young people snaking around 59th St. onto 5th Avenue in Manhattan. Except the same could be said about me.

We were queuing up to land Spectacles from Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat. Snap has stoked the buzz for Spectacles by dramatically limiting the supply of these less goofy than you think $129 sunglasses. They have a camera inside that at the push of a button lets you capture short videos which are then wirelessly uploaded to Snapchat, but they're equally notable because of the way that they’re sold.

Snap places mustard-colored pop up vending machines called Snapbots in seemingly random places around the country. Potential buyers need to monitor the Spectacles’ website to find out, if, when and where another bot will show up. Either way, they get precious little advanced notice. So far Snapbots have been deployed for limited periods, here in New York, in various California locales, as well as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and a spot near the Grand Canyon.

Less than an hour until kickoff for day 2 of NYC @Spectacles sales and line wraps around 60th and through a subway. Crazy. pic.twitter.com/Fv92S6l1TF

— Eli Blumenthal (@eliblumenthal) November 22, 2016

The significance of Snap’s New York location wasn’t lost on me either, as it is just across the street from Apple’s flagship stores where I’ve covered the blocks-long lines when early iPhones and iPads first were put on sale. But I couldn’t imagine choosing to become part of such a line—until now.

My initial interest in joining the Spectacles queue was journalistic too—wink wink—though my desire to own a pair grew exponentially the longer that I waited. I must admit a certain fascination with getting something that other people don’t have yet. As a tech reviewer, I typically get that privilege, but in this case Snap wasn’t seeding the press with loaner units.

For this lone Manhattan location, Snap promised to open its doors at 4PM; the first person on line got there at, um, 4AM.

In fact, I had it much easier than most. My colleague Eli Blumenthal claimed a spot for us around 9:30 AM, and held our place by tag-teaming with a couple of friends. I joined the line for good around 3PM, when there were roughly 70 people in front of us and well over a hundred behind us. Soon after, the people in my section of the line were issued time-noted wristbands, pretty much signifying that if we held out long enough we’d get to buy these Spectacles.

This wristband means I'm actually going to be able to buy @spectaclespic.twitter.com/3WdOf31kO4

— Ed Baig (@edbaig) November 22, 2016

And long it still was, especially as the sun disappeared and the temperature dropped into the 30s. The Snap representatives were only letting small groups of people into the store at a time.

When we got close enough to peek inside the store windows, it was evident that there was ample room to let more of us wait indoors, but Snap refused to do so despite the cold. That’s when Eli and I (and presumably others) tweeted angrily. They eventually did let more people in.

I get it Snapchat, you created buzz for @Spectacles. What I don't get is why you let ppl freeze outside when there's room inside? Come on... pic.twitter.com/vyYWxBTVg8

— Ed Baig (@edbaig) November 22, 2016

With only one Snapbot in the store we still had a long wait, but at least it was more comfortable. The other thing that slowed things down was that several people had their credit cards denied because of potential fraud; Snap set up a separate line so that these people could call their credit card issuers and try again. Folks could buy up to two pairs of Spectacles, but had to handle each transaction separately.

And at one point, Snap had to restock the machines, which they did behind a curtain.

Curtain covers Snapbot while it is being restocked with @Spectacles because Snapchat wouldn't dare let us see. pic.twitter.com/VgzlLJvfVP

— Ed Baig (@edbaig) November 22, 2016

A little past 7, I finally bought two pair of my own, one on behalf of Eli, and one that I intend to keep.

Was this ordeal worth it? I imagine it was for those people apparently motivated strictly by profit, because given the limited supply there’s already a healthy demand for the glasses in secondary markets such as eBay and Craigslist where prices for the Spectacles are running at three or four times the list price. Did I mention the word nuts? And coming out of the store we witnessed several on-the-spot transactions.

I still have hope for humanity though. We also heard from a few people who were buying them work or for family members—these do, after all, make cool holiday gifts.

Ed Baig wears Spectacles

Ed Baig wears Spectacles (Photo: Eli Blumenthal, USA TODAY)

I’m not a heavy Snapchat user but I’m keeping mine for personal and family use. The glasses are fun, simple and easy to charge inside the supplied carrying case, though the reviewer in me is obliged to point out that I ran into snags during the initial pairing process. And that these aren't even the first glasses of their kind--back in 2012 I reviewed Pivothead glasses, then $349.

Low-light standard definition videos captured by Spectacles don't look all that terrific though you can also shoot in HD, and the fact is the quality is fine for Snapchat where what you shoot automatically ends up. And as one 23 year New Yorker put it, the glasses are “not completely ridiculous looking” either.

What is ridiculous, or should I say insane, is waiting hours or paying a small ransom to buy them.

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

Contributing: Eli Blumenthal

CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMMENTEMAILMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/2fSKXb1

SHARE THIS
Previous Post
Next Post