Meta launches its first hardware store on its campus in Burlingame, California. The store, which opens May 9, will allow visitors to try out and purchase Meta’s Portal videophones and Quest virtual reality headsets. They can also showcase the Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses that debuted last year and get help ordering them online.
Meta’s store will include a Portal demo room where users can test the video calling features with a store associate. There is a space to test various Quest 2 demos, including: Beat Saber† GOLF+† Real VR fishingand supernatural, and visitors take home a 30-second mixed reality clip of them playing a game. They can also try out different styles of Ray-Ban glasses, which capture and share video with built-in cameras, and test their capabilities before purchasing. Meta is also adding a “Store” tab to its website, making it easier to find all of its products online in one place.
The move is an important step in hardware sales for Meta, following in the footsteps of companies like Google, which opened its first store last year after some more limited pop-up stores. Meta 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 opens up a new opportunity to sell people on still-unusual virtual and augmented reality (sometimes characterized as “metaverse”) technology, a key area of focus for the company.
However, it’s also a pretty limited one. The tiny 1,550-square-foot store will open near the Meta’s Reality Labs headquarters (at 322 Airport Boulevard in Burlingame) rather than a metropolitan area like the Google store in Manhattan. It’s open Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm, which aren’t exactly the best shopping hours. Meta store head Martin Gilliard said in a statement that the Burlingame location “gives us more opportunity to experiment and keep the customer experience at the heart of our development,” lessons from which will “help shape our future retail strategy.”
Meta’s last major product release was last year, but the store seems likely to provide a stage to showcase future VR/AR projects as they evolve, including more advanced mixed reality goggles and control systems. It also gives Meta a close-up look at how people will react to this hardware — much of which raises significant privacy concerns — in a real world.