Spectacles seem to be a hit for Snapchat parent Snap Inc., thought their unconventional rollout via pop-up shops (including a new one at a Dave & Busters in Illinois this morning) makes it hard to judge the scale of their success. Here’s a decent indicator: Snap is opening a new research and development technology office in Shenzhen, near where Spectacles are assembled, CNN reports.
The Snap Inc. move is unusual because Snapchat itself isn’t available to users in China, since it’s banned in the country. But its first hardware product, the video-capturing Spectacles sunglasses, are assembled there (as are a large percentage of mass market consumer electronic devices).
Snap’s new Shenzhen office only has 20 employees so far, but the company is actively recruiting from the likes of Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent to build out its team further. It’s also offering stock incentives and the ability to transfer to Snap’s U.S. operations as hiring benefits, according to CNN.
It’s not unusual for gadget makers to set up R&D facilities near their supplier assembly operations. Apple announced a research and development center in Shenzhen in October, for instance – the second such facility it revealed this year, as it also discussed plans to bring an R&D office online in Beijing in August.
Basically this strongly suggests that Snap Inc. isn’t through with its hardware plans. Spectacles has been positioned as a “toy” by Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, but the company also now bills itself as a “camera company,” and this is another indicator that it could have more extensive hardware ambitions.