Snapchat Spectacles Take Video, Covers Mortgage

Snapchat’s video-recording glasses have become the must-have gadget, thanks in part to how hard it is to buy them. WSJ’s Joanna Stern put on a pair of Snapchat Spectacles to capture the new pop-up store in New York City. Photo: Peter Foley for The Wall Street Journal

Hair unbrushed and breakfast uneaten, John Reuter grabbed his credit cards, jumped into his Chrysler and drove 2.5 hours straight to the Grand Canyon airport.

There he boarded a helicopter, which swooped him through the towering rock walls to the bottom of the American natural wonder. A few steps off the helipad he stood before a vending machine dispensing $130 glasses with video cameras. The much-hyped Snapchat Spectacles.

“I have no clue what these things do. I don’t even have a Snapchat,” said Mr. Reuter, 29 years old and from Henderson, Nev. “All I know is people want these badly.” He bought four pairs, took the helicopter back up—the ride cost $250—and immediately put them on eBay. His profit by the next morning: $1,100.

Spectacles
Spectacles

Instead of putting its new video-recording sunglasses on sale through an online or physical store, Snapchat, recently renamed Snap Inc., has created a real-life, nerd-version of the “Hunger Games” to achieve marketing buzz.

Here are the rules in Snap CEO Evan Spiegel’s arena: The camera-equipped glasses, which can record 10-second Snaps, or video clips, are sold only through Snapbots—vending machines that look like SpongeBob SquarePants mated with a Minion from “Despicable Me.”

The bots, accompanied by security guards, are dropped off for just a few hours in random locations in the U.S. The spots are only revealed after a 12-to-24-hour countdown on spectacles.com/map.

When the location is revealed, it is first come, first buy. Sales are supposed to be limited to two per person. Buyers said the bots had a capacity of about 200 pairs, and no guarantee of a restocking.

Bots in California have drawn lines hundreds deep. Others in more remote areas, like Oklahoma and the one at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, had shorter lines.

Gun Hudson, above, flew Chris Trinh to Australia to get a pair of Spectacles.