Meta, the social media company formerly known as Facebook, is looking at opening physical stores around the world, according to a report in The New York Times.
Citing people with knowledge of the project and company documents, the Times says the stores would be used to introduce people to devices made by the company’s Reality Labs division, such as virtual reality headsets and, eventually, augmented reality glasses.
These devices would be gateways to the metaverse, a virtual world where people would work, play, learn and connect with their friends and family.
Meta didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Last week, Facebook announced that it is rebranding itself as Meta to reflect the company’s focus on building the metaverse. Meta will be a new corporate brand that will preside over Facebook and its services including photo app Instagram, messaging app WhatsApp and its virtual and augmented reality efforts. The company plans to start trading under the new stock ticker MVRS on Dec. 1.
According to the company documents viewed by the Times, the purpose of the stores will be to make the world “more open and connected.” They are also intended to spark emotions like “curiosity, closeness,” as well as a sense of feeling “welcomed” while experimenting with headsets in a “judgment free journey,” according to the documents.
According to the Times’ sources, serious talks about the physical stores started last year and work predated Facebook’s rebranding by many months. And the project, which is still in development, may not proceed, they said.
While the stores would mark a first for Facebook, they’re not a new idea for the tech industry. Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and others have all opened retail stores.
Meta itself has experimented with retail locations, too. It opened “pop-up” kiosks at airports and in New York City to show off itshardware products. And it had a pop-up location with Macy’s in 2018, with the goal of attracting more small businesses to the platform.