All is set for the grand launch of social media giant – Meta’s first hardware retail store located in Burlingame, California. The store, which is all set for opening on the 9th of May, will witness tech lovers and enthusiasts try out and make purchases of a range of Meta’s products. This will include the Portal videophones and Quest virtual reality headsets. Also, the new store will feature the demo of the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses that were unveiled last year to the general public.
Also in the new store is an area designated for the demo trial of the Portal where users can test its video calling features. Another area is designated for the testing of several Quest 2 demos, including Beat Saber, GOLF+, Real VR Fishing, and Supernatural. Reports say visitors will be able to take home a 30-second mixed reality clip that showcases them playing a game. The Ray-Ban glasses which capture and share video with its built-in cameras will be on display to test their capabilities before purchases. The social media giant will also be adding a “Shop” tab to its website; reports say this is to enable users to find all Meta’s products in one place online.
The opening of the first retail hardware store by Meta is a significant move to announce its entry into hardware sales. Meta is said to be following in the footsteps of tech companies like Google, which also announced the opening of its first retail store last year. Meta has previously partnered with Best Buy on demo stations for its VR headsets, and Ray-Ban Stories have appeared in the sunglasses company’s own stores. The new store presents an opportunity for the company to practically showcase its abilities in virtual and augmented reality (sometimes characterized as “metaverse”) in an unusual way to people and tech lovers. The company maintains that creating exciting products in virtual and augmented reality for the metaverse remains a major area of focus for the company.
However, the new store is a pretty limited one of about 1,550-square-foot storefront and located quite close to Meta’s Reality Labs headquarters rather than in the heart of a metropolitan area like Google’s. For now, the store is scheduled for opening only from 11:00AM to 6:00PM Monday through Friday, which quite a number of people still consider not the peak period for shopping. Meta store head Martin Gilliard in a statement disclosed that the Burlingame location “gives us more opportunity to experiment and keep the customer experience core to our development,” lessons from which will “help define our future retail strategy.”
According to The Verge, Meta’s last big product release was last year, but the retail store seems likely to provide a staging ground for showing off future VR / AR projects as they develop, including more advanced mixed reality glasses and control systems. It also gives Meta an up-close look at how people will respond to this hardware — much of which raises significant privacy concerns — in a real-world setting.