Facebook — sorry, that’s calling himself Meta now– plans to dip consumers’ toes in the so-called metaverse by launching retail stores to showcase AR and VR products, the The New York Times reported Friday.
According to the Times, “people familiar with the project” as well as internal company documents reviewed by the newspaper detail a plan to open a series of outlets that will eventually become a global chain of Meta stores. The plan is for stores to feature products made by the company’s Reality Labs division, which currently makes virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Quest; CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes it will be eventually making things like augmented reality glasses as part of his multi-step plan to monetize and monopolize all human interaction. Amusing!
Documents seen by The Times indicate that the outlets will aim to make the world “more open and connected” and describe a fashionable aesthetic of “curiosity, closeness” and customers feeling “welcome” on their “non-judgmental journey.” “. (It is assumed that you will not actually be allowed to watch porn in the Meta store.) The documents describe the designs of the stores which are “modern, with a flat, minimalist aesthetic on the exterior of the buildings and a subtle placement of the Facebook brand“-think an Apple store, but blue. According to the Times, the first Facebook Store is said to have been planned in Burlingame, Calif., Where Reality Labs has an office, but the extent to which that plan has been implemented is unclear.
Zuckerberg has spear the “metaverse” as the future of the company, referring to its belief that the future of the global Internet will be the kind of AR and VR environments imagined decades ago in speculative science fiction as Snow accident and Tron. The only problem with that is products dedicated to augmented reality and virtual reality are still expensive niche products largely focused on the high-end gaming market (it turns out that pstones are more practical than wearing a bulky helmet), and even most VR gamers probably only use their headsets for one a few hours a month. The launch of a retail chain would provide an opportunity to demonstrate the technology to a wider audience, although it is not clear why Meta would be successful in this regard where earlier efforts like VR arcades have failed.
The Times wrote that the documents show the names Facebook Hub, Facebook Commons, Facebook Innovations, Facebook Reality Store, and From Facebook were taken into account, but Facebook Store is the current favorite. The Meta rebranding may affect the name choice. The company has already announced plans to rename the Oculus Quest headsets to Meta Quest, for example, and its well received corn bad sell Facebook portal video chat device as a meta portal. There is no word in the Times article on whether the decision to brand the store as Facebook may be in limbo due to other small things, like the massive public relations crises and damning internal document leaks that prompted the Meta rebranding in the first place.
In statement emailed to Gizmodo, a Meta spokesperson said absolutely nothing useful on the reported store launch plans, adding only that “Quest 2 is in high demand and is available through our partner retailers along with our other hardware products, Ray-Ban Stories and Portal”.