Facebook’s booming business is dominated by digital ads, but it also has hardware ambitions beyond virtual reality. During the company’s latest earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his next product launch would be a pair of Ray-Ban smart glasses.
“Glasses have their iconic form factor and allow you to do pretty neat things,” the Facebook co-founder said. “So I’m thrilled to put them in people’s hands and to continue moving forward into augmented reality glasses in the future.”
Facebook sunglasses have been the subject of rumors since 2019. At the time, sources said CNBC that Facebook was working with Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica on AR glasses nicknamed “Orion.” The glasses were billed as a complete phone substitute in which you could call, view information, and even stream live plays. This inevitably made comparisons to Google Glass (another Luxottica collaboration) rather than the shows tied to Snap’s phone. Last year, Hugo Barra, then VR vice president at Facebook Reality Labs, confirmed that the glasses would land in 2021. But we haven’t heard anything about it since.
For Facebook, glasses are the key to its future. Alongside virtual reality, augmented reality (RA) is key to building the “metaverse,” Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg explained that in the future, Facebook will be transformed into a shared and livable platform that will allow you to “teleport” between different social experiences using VR and AR.
The term metaverse is the latest buzzword in Silicon Valley and the futurists. Although the concept has been around for over a decade, it gained strength after the success of multiplayer gaming platforms such as Fortnite i Roblox. Earlier this week, Microsoft chief Satya Nadella mentioned a “business metaverse” in her company’s profit call.
For Facebook, metaverse is more than just a fad. The company is spending billions to build its shared universe, which will be filled with Facebook users and digital ads, according to Zuckerberg. For that to happen, the company needs more people to buy its computer hardware. Therefore, the plan is to make these devices more affordable.
“Our business model will not focus primarily on trying to sell devices at great price or anything like that, as our mission is to serve as many people as possible,” Zuckerberg noted. “So we want everything we do to be as affordable as possible, so that as many people as possible can come in and then make up the size of the digital economy that there is. So I’m thinking of a high level on this. “
Sunglasses aren’t the only hardware Facebook is working on. Several reports claim that Facebook is developing a smartwatch with an integrated cellular connection and a detachable screen. Initially, it was believed that the clock would come out the door first, but it seems that Zuckerberg had other plans.