Meta opens its first retail store next month
Meta launches its first hardware store on its campus in Burlingame, California. The store, which will open on May 9, will allow visitors to try and buy Meta’s Portal videophones and Quest virtual reality headsets. They will also be able to demo the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses that debuted last year and get help ordering them online.
Meta’s store will include a demo area for Portal where users can test out its video calling features with a store employee. There is space to test several Quest 2 demos, including beat the saber, GOLF+, Real VR Fishingand Supernatural, and visitors will walk away with a 30-second mixed reality clip showing them playing a game. They can also try on different styles of Ray-Ban glasses, which capture and share video with built-in cameras, and test their abilities before buying. Meta is also adding a “Shop” tab to its website, making it easy to find all of its products in one place online.
The move is a significant foray into hardware sales for Meta, following in the footsteps of companies like Google, which opened its first retail establishment last year after several more limited pop-up stores. Meta has already partnered with Best Buy on demo stations for its VR headsets, and Ray-Ban Stories has appeared in the sunglasses company’s own stores. The new store opens up another opportunity to sell people still unusual virtual and augmented reality technology (sometimes referred to as a “metaverse”), a major area of focus for the company.
It is also, however, quite limited. The small 1,550 square foot storefront opens near Meta’s Reality Labs headquarters (at 322 Airport Boulevard in Burlingame) rather than in a large metropolitan area like Google’s store in Manhattan. It will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, which is not exactly the opening hours of the shops. Meta store manager Martin Gilliard said in a statement that the Burlingame location “gives us more opportunities to experiment and keep the customer experience at the heart of our development”, the lessons of which will “help define our future retail strategy”.
Meta’s last big product release was last year, but the retail store looks likely to provide a playing field to showcase future VR/AR projects as they develop, including goggles. mixed reality and more advanced control systems. It also gives Meta an up-close look at how people will react to this material — much of which raises significant privacy concerns — in a real-world setting.