Facebook’s burgeoning business is dominated by digital advertising, but the company also has hardware aspirations beyond virtual reality. During the company’s most recent earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that the company’s next product release will be a pair of Ray-Ban smart glasses.
“The glasses have their iconic form factor, and they let you do some pretty neat things,” the Facebook co-founder said. “So I’m excited to get those into people’s hands and to continue to make progress on the journey toward full augmented reality glasses in the future.”
Since 2019, speculations have circulated about Facebook’s sunglasses. Sources informed CNBC at the time that Facebook was working on AR eyewear called “Orion” with Ray-Ban owner EssilorLuxottica. The glasses were marketed as a full-featured phone replacement that could make and receive calls, display information, and even broadcast livestreams.
Instead of the phone-tethered Spectacles from Snap, these naturally prompted parallels to Google Glass (another Luxottica collaboration). Hugo Barra, then-VP VR at Facebook Reality Labs, announced the arrival of the glasses in 2021 last year. But since then, we haven’t heard anything.
The glasses hold the key to Facebook’s future. Along with virtual reality, augmented reality (AR) is critical to the development of the “metaverse,” according to Zuckerberg. Facebook will evolve into a shared, liveable platform that allows you to “teleport” between different social experiences using VR and AR in the future, Zuckerberg explained.
Silicon Valley and futurists have embraced the phrase metaverse as the latest buzzword. While the concept has been around for a long time, it really took off after the popularity of multiplayer game production platforms like Fortnite and Roblox. On his company’s earnings call earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella discussed an “enterprise metaverse.”
The metaverse is more than a passing craze for Facebook. According to Zuckerberg, the business is investing billions of dollars to develop this shared world, which will be inhabited with Facebook members and digital advertisements. To make it a reality, the business needs more people to purchase its computer hardware. As a result, the strategy is to make those gadgets more inexpensive.
“Our business model isn’t going to primarily be around trying to sell devices at a large premium or anything like that because our mission is around serving as many people as possible,” Zuckerberg noted. “So we want to make everything that we do as affordable as possible, so as many people as possible can get into it and then compounds the size of the digital economy inside it. So that’s kind of at a high level how I’m thinking about this.”
On the same earnings call this week, Zuckerberg said: “[A]ds are going to continue being an important part of the strategy across the social media parts of what we do and it will probably be a meaningful part of the metaverse too.”
Facebook is allegedly working on a variety of hardware, including sunglasses. Numerous rumors say Facebook is working on a wristwatch with a built-in cellular connection and a removable touchscreen. Initially, it was thought that the watch would be the first to hit the market, but it appears like Zuckerberg had other ideas.