Snap CEO Evan Spiegel on Friday said he expects it will be 10 years before consumers widely adopt augmented-reality smart glasses.
"We're working our way towards that future," Spiegel said Friday speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
Spiegel said the company is taking a long-term approach to building fully AR smart glasses with the expectation that they will eventually be a widely adopted consumer device. Snap, which is best known for the Snapchat messaging app, announced in August the $380 Spectacles 3, the latest version of the company's camera-equipped glasses.
"Rather than go in a hole or an R&D center or something and try to make something people like and show them 10 years later, we create a relationship with our community and build that future together," Spiegel said.
In the meantime, Snap is building out its ecosystem of third-party software developers who are building AR lenses for Snapchat, Spiegel said. There are now more than 500,000 of those AR lenses, he added.
"Getting that community going means that by the time the hardware gets there 10 years from now we'll have a thriving ecosystem of experiences that people can enjoy," Spiegel said.
Already, Microsoft makes the HoloLens 2 headset and Florida startup Magic Leap sells its Magic Leap One AR glasses, although none of these devices has become a hit. Apple is also reportedly working on a similar product that could hit the market as early as next year, and Facebook is developing AR glasses and has partnered with Ray-Ban maker Luxottica, CNBC has reported.
The camera-focused Threads allows Instagram users to share their status or quickly send photos and videos to people they've added to their list of close friends. The app borrows several elements from Snap, whose Snapchat app focuses usage on sending photos and videos through private messages.
"Honestly, I haven't had a chance to test drive [Threads,]" Spiegel said. "But you know, we just continue to build for our community, build products that we think really resonate with them and that'll continue to be our strategy going forward."
After a rough two years following its initial public offering, Snap has bounced back in 2019. The company has matured its advertising business, continued to build out its augmented-reality technology and renewed its focus on Gen Z users. As a result, the company's stock price is up more than 155% year-to-date.