Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is opening its first-ever brick-and-mortar retail store in California. The opening of the physical retail store is part of the company's evolution as it moves away from being just an ad-supported social networking platform.
The retail store kicks off the company's journey into becoming a hardware-driven tech giant and its ambitious first dive into the metaverse. Meta has spent billions of dollars on building its metaverse, with the company disclosing that it invested nearly $3 billion in its Reality Labs subsidiary during the first quarter. Part of that investment is the development of new physical products that will be sold to the public.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has outlined an ambitious vision for the metaverse, in which people would engage in virtual worlds using a variety of technologies, including its new virtual reality headset and other next-generation products.
Meta's first physical location is a 1,500-square-foot room located in Burlingame, California, near the company's Reality Labs headquarters.
The store will only be showcasing three products. The first is the company's Quest Two virtual reality headset, which users will need to access the metaverse. Next is Meta's Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, which are able to take photographs and videos to distribute on social media sites. Finally, the company will be selling its Portal device, a video calling gadget marketed as a way for work-from-home employees and families to keep in contact.
The main attraction of the store, which is now open to the public, is the demo zone for the Quest headset. Visitors can play popular virtual reality video games such as "Beat Saber" and "Golf Plus" to test out the device. A wall-sized TV screen displays what's going on inside the headset, and a team of Meta staffers is on hand to offer gameplay suggestions and advice.
Head of Meta Store, Martin Gilliard, said the new store would be a sort of "touchpoint" for consumers to explore what the company has to offer. He added that they would use feedback gathered from people that visit the store to see if they will continue to build more outlets in other parts of the country and the world.
Gilliard said customer feedback is one of the main reasons the company decided to build the store. He said they would be focusing on looking to learn how customers interact with the new devices and to find out if there are any other ways they can improve their design and features.