Meta, formerly Facebook, is reportedly discussing the possibility of opening physical stores to help introduce and explain the metaverse to the world.

The report on the development from The New York Times arrived a week after Facebook announced a rebrand of its corporate name to Meta to align with its goal of building the metaverse, a world where virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies transform people into avatars to play, socialize, shop and work alongside others virtually.

According to the Times, the stores would showcase and let consumers trial devices made by the company’s Reality Labs division, including VR virtual reality headsets, video chat devices and AR-glasses.

The stores would focus on delivering experiences and learning rather than selling. Based on the documents the Times saw, Meta’s goal with its stores would be to spark “curiosity” and “closeness,” as well as provide a “judgment free journey” for customers to experiment with products.

The explorations occurred over the last year before the decision to rebrand, so the plans may be scrapped.

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has cautioned that many core elements of metaverse may not become mainstream for another five to 10 years after “many billions of dollars” of further investment. Following Facebook’s name-change announcement, a number of skeptics predicted that the metaverse would remain too expensive and only interest a niche market of hobbyists and tech geeks.

Communications will also be essential for metaverse adoption and Meta last week introduced its first ads since the name change. The ad shows students in a museum encountering the Henri Rousseau painting, “Fight Between a Tiger and Buffalo,” which becomes 3D, surrounding the students with an immersive experience of vegetation and dancing wildlife.

“We’ve all stood in museums and wondered, ‘What if this painting came to life,” Meta’s global director of brand marketing Jasmine Summerset-Karcie told Advertising Age. “A lot of people are wondering, ‘What is the metaverse?’ This piece is really intended to inspire people; it’s a story of imagination and how our imaginations will ultimately define the metaverse.”


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