Meta has been planning physical stores for over a year, The New York Times reports.
The purpose of the locations would be to introduce people to Meta’s hardware: headsets, goggles, and Portal video calling devices. The report does not mention whether the products would actually be sold in stores, but it appears that is not the aim of the plan.
Discussions about brick-and-mortar stores have reportedly “preceded Facebook’s rebranding by several months,” with serious work on the initiative starting last year. Sources for the report say the project is still in development, but there is no guarantee that it will continue. If this continues, stores could “eventually expand to the world.”
Apple opened its first physical store in 2001, a few months before the iPod was released. Three years later, it became the fastest retailer to reach $ 1 billion in annual sales. Today, there are over 500 Apple Stores around the world, which also provide service and repair.
Facebook open some ephemeral pop-up stores for the low-budget Oculus Go headset when it launched 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 such as head shape, eyesight, and sinus weight sensitivity can affect a person’s comfort with a head-mounted device. Helmets and goggles might be ideal for a physical retail strategy.