Meta's first stride into digital wearables, the Ray Ban Stories, has failed to resonate with users. As Meta continues to craft the next era of digital interaction in the metaverse and explore AI-based endeavors, it is also mapping out its route for Augmented Reality (AR) and wearables that will enrich your perspective with digital components.
Although Meta claims these endeavors to be part of its broader metaverse vision, the metaverse is predominantly VR (Virtual Reality), and AR is a different realm altogether, regardless of how Meta endeavors to blend the two.
Meta has high hopes for its AR glasses, slated for launch in 2027. However, to familiarize the market with the next phase, it has already unveiled its initial glasses model in the form of Ray Ban Stories, aimed at establishing a trendy digital gadget with some connective functionality. Regrettably, they have not been well received. As per a recent report, over 90% of Ray Ban Stories users have ceased using the device post-purchase.
Internal documents from the company disclose that merely 27,000 of the 300,000 units sold from September 2021 to February 2023 are still actively used each month. Despite this tepid response, Meta plans to launch a second-generation version of Ray Ban Stories next year as it continues its journey towards an AR future.
Given the limited functionality of the device, this lukewarm reception is not entirely unexpected. Similar results were seen with Snapchat's Spectacles, a device functionally akin to Ray Ban Stories. The initial hype led to the movement of over 150,000 units, but Snapchat overestimated demand, resulting in hundreds of thousands of unsold Spectacles left in warehouses a year after launch.
Yet, both Meta and Snapchat remain invested in the concept, continuing to develop and test AR glasses. Although these devices are not quite ready for the next level of commercial availability, both companies are actively working on digital overlays for the real-world view, signifying the next stage of AR tech development.
Despite the less than enthusiastic initial response to Ray Ban Stories, the product is an interesting first step in a longer AR development trajectory for Meta. While the tech giant may not have expected this version to be a massive hit, it does represent a minor yet important step in building a production pipeline and establishing future partnerships in the AR realm.