Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories which were launched nearly two years ago sold decently well, but those who did purchase the smart glasses apparently aren’t really using them.
In an internal document seen by the Wall Street Journal, Meta reveals that it sold approximately 300,000 units of the smart glasses between their launch in 2021 through February 2023, but fewer than ten percent of people who bought Ray-Ban Stories regularly use them. Additionally, the company noted that there were about only 27,000 monthly active users.
Internal discussion blames poor connectivity and low battery life and while the company did successfully sell a large number of them, there is concern in the sales potential of a follow-up product if the current users aren’t big fans of their investment.
Ray-Ban Stories featured the styling that the brand is known for along with a pair of integrated 5-megapixel cameras that were designed to allow the wearer to capture moments of everyday life as they were happening from a first-person perspective. When launched, the glasses supported photos and up to 30-second video clips, but in May of the following year Meta pushed that up to a minute and also added support for more frames and lenses (including Transitions).
Even though the glasses feature a set of illuminating LEDs near the cameras that activate when they are actively recording, Meta still recognized that they poised a privacy risk. It wasn’t the only one: regulators in Europe expressed concerns that the glasses were not well tested in the field and the light might not be sufficient enough to indicate active recording.
The company hired a law firm to conduct a human rights report across the company, and the firm specifically “noted the potential for Meta’s platforms to be connected to salient human rights risks caused by third parties,” including “advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination, or violence” with a specific emphasis on virtual reality technologies like the Ray-Ban Stories.
Meta did not offer any solutions to these raised issues at the time.
When the glasses were launched in September 2021, they were announced as the first product in a multi-year partnership between Meta and Ray-Ban parent company EssilorLuxottica, which is why a second-generation series of the eyewear is expected. Engadget reports that Meta is poised to release the new version either this fall or spring of 2024 and they will feature better cameras and improved battery life.
But given the lackluster use by customers and the lack of answers to basic privacy problems associated with the glasses, there is enough to consider whether the additional investment in the product line is even worth it.
Image credits: Meta