Meta has been planning physical stores for more than a year, The New York Times reports.
The purpose of the locations would be to introduce people to Meta’s hardware: headsets, glasses, and Portal video calling devices. The report doesn’t mention whether products would actually be sold in-store, but it sounds like that isn’t the focus of the plan.
Discussions about physical stores reportedly “predated Facebook’s rebranding by many months”, with serious work on the initiative starting last year. The report’s sources say the project is still in development, but isn’t guaranteed to proceed. If it does go ahead, the stores could “eventually span the world”.
Apple opened its first physical store in 2001 a few months before the release of the iPod. Three years later it became the fastest retailer to reach $1 billion annual sales. Today there are more than 500 Apple Stores worldwide, which also offer service & repair.
Facebook opened a few temporary pop-up stores for the budget Oculus Go headset at its launch in 2018 but has otherwise relied on partnerships with existing retailers. The original Oculus Rift headset had demo stations at Best Buy, and this strategy was repeated with Oculus Quest and Rift S in 2019.
Virtual, mixed, and augmented reality are technologies that need to be tried to be truly understood – and most people still haven’t. Factors like head shape, eyesight, and sensitivity to weight against sinuses can affect how comfortable a given person finds a head-mounted device. Headsets and glasses could be ideal for a physical retail strategy.