Meta, the corporate entity formerly known as Facebook, could build brick-and-mortar retail stores around the globe to market its Virtual Reality and, eventually, Augmented Reality products — reports The New York Times, citing sources close to the matter and official documents viewed by the publication.
It looks like Meta’s first step in its pursuit of building the ‘metaverse’ will have to be physical instead of virtual. Gee, it’s almost like the world doesn’t need an all-immersive shift to Virtual Reality.
According to sources, Facebook has been planning physical stores for many months, with serious work on the plans having started last year — well before the company was re-branded into Meta. The project, which is still in development, may not proceed at all, added the sources.
Should Meta retail stores actually become a thing, they would feature products like Portal devices — teleconferencing gadgets that let people video chat over Facebook — as well as the Oculus Virtual Reality headsets.
The stores could also market the Wayfarer smart glasses Meta created in partnership with Ray-Ban, which can be used to capture photos and videos and share them directly to Meta’s social media platforms.
Any Augmented Reality or next-generation Virtual Reality gear Meta’s Reality Labs division develops in the future to enable the metaverse would be demoed and distributed through these outlets as well.
Company documents say the purpose of the retail outlets is to make the world “more open and connected. The store will be designed to encourage emotions of “curiosity, closeness,” and a sense of feeling “welcomed,” while allowing patrons to experiment with VR/AR equipment and other products in a “judgment free journey.”
Store designs included in the documents depicted them as modern, with a flat, minimalist aesthetic to the building exteriors and subtle placement of the Facebook brand.
Judging by the documents, the leading candidate for a name appears to be ‘The Facebook Store’, but the company also considered Facebook Hub, Facebook Commons, Facebook Innovations, Facebook Reality Store and From Facebook. How the Meta re-branding will affect these plans currently remains unknown.
The flagship Facebook Store had been planned for Burlingame, CA, where an existing Reality Labs office is also located.
‘Meta’ is currently scrambling to repair its image and deal with governmental scrutiny after an ex-employee turned whistle-blower leaked internal documents revealing the company was not doing enough to protect users from the negative mental impact caused by its social media platforms.