Facebook and Instagram’s parent company is now jumping into physical retail, by opening the first META brick-and-mortar store.
The flagship META store, opened on the 9th of May in California, sells physical products, including the Quest 2 virtual reality headsets and Portal video calling devices. The store offers demos of various products, including the opportunity to try out the popular Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses that were developed by Facebook and Ray-Ban.
The store also features a VR space that lets customers try apps such as Beat Saber and Real VR Fishing. These VR demos are projected on an enormous, curved LED screens.
“The store is an effort to get consumers more familiar with Meta’s plans for a so-called “metaverse”, a sci-fi concept that envisions, essentially, an immersive version of the internet, which the company spent billions of dollars on last year via Facebook Reality Labs”, stated META.
For now, there will be only one store based at the company’s campus in Burlingame, California at 322 Airport Boulevard.
Meta is the leader in the small but rapidly growing market for VR headsets. Tech market researcher IDC estimates nearly 11 million VR headsets were shipped in 2021, which is a 96% jump over the 5.6 million shipped a year before, research manager Jitesh Ubrani said. Ubrani believes Meta’s Quest 2 headset made up 80% of those shipments last year.
Big Tech Embracing Physical Retail
Meta is the latest big tech company to open a retail store to showcase its products.
Google opened one such store in New York last year. Microsoft shuttered its 83 stores in 2020, but reconfigured a few as “experience centers” and started selling products at them in 2021. And Apple has made its hundreds of stores a core part of its business for years.
It is not yet clear if Meta plans to eventually take the Meta Store beyond Burlingame, similar to what Apple began in 2001 with the rapid rollout of its Apple Stores around the world. But one thing is clear, even with the rise of a metaverse, physical retail still has its place in the market.