Meta (formerly Facebook) is not only building its next generation of AR and VR headsets, but it’s looking to jumpstart a sort of immersive internet the company believes will one day be the future of human interaction—that’s the ‘metaverse’ everyone’s talking about. And to sell that idea to the masses, the company has allegedly discussed rolling out physical stores.
A New York Times report maintains that Meta has been planning its own retail stores that aim to eventually span the world. The report cites people with knowledge of the project in addition to internal company documents shared with The New York Times.
Those documents allegedly revealed that Meta’s stores aim to let people try out its upcoming XR hardware in a “more open and connected” space which will make guests feel “curiosity, closeness,” and “welcomed”—all whilst on a “judgment free journey.”
We know marketing fluff when we hear it, however the report maintains that “serious work” was started last year, predating the Meta rebranding late last month. Whether it actually follows through with those plans is still an uncertainty. The company hasn’t substantiated any of the claims made in the report.
The company is no stranger to the challenges of getting VR headsets on neophyte noggins. It’s had pop-up events and in-store demos as far back as 2016 to prepare for the launch of the original Oculus Rift.
Opening physical stores though would be much larger step for Meta, putting it in the same retail class as Microsoft, Apple and Google; the latter just opening its first retail store this summer. It would not only need highly visible locations to broaden its push into the consumer market, it would need to be very confident in its products—emphasis on the plural.
Although the company only sells Oculus Quest 2 and has partnered to create the Ray-Ban Stories camera glasses, it has a few products in the works. Last month the company unveiled its Project Cambria mixed reality headset and teased an AR headset called Project Nazare. We aren’t sure when either will be productized, but you can bet Meta will be looking to offer in-person demos when they do, since both AR and MR headsets will be entirely new territory for most people.