Meta is struggling to retain users for its Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, with over 90 percent of consumers having seemingly abandoned the platform, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Internal company documents viewed by the publication revealed that around 27,000 of the 300,000 units reportedly sold between September 2021 and February 2023 are still being regularly used each month. Last April, Meta was reported to have sold just 120,000 pairs of the Ray-Ban Stories — less than half its 300,000 goal at that time.
The sunglasses, which allow users to take pictures, listen to music, and send / receive Facebook and WhatsApp messages, have seemingly been blighted with various technical problems that have contributed to a poor user experience, according to the report. This includes issues with audio, voice commands, poor battery life, and importing media from other devices, with the document viewed by the Journal noting that the device has been returned by 13 percent of users.
Meta had hoped to sell up to 478,000 units of its Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses during the product’s lifetime
According to the Journal, the document said that Meta was looking to investigate “why users stop using their glasses, how to ensure we are encouraging new feature adoption, and ultimately how to keep our users engaged and retained.” The document also predicted that 394,000 Ray-Ban Stories would be sold during the product’s lifetime, though the Journal claims Meta had targeted up to 478,000 in unit sales elsewhere.
The disappointing retention for Ray-Ban Stories is a further blow to Meta’s Reality Labs, the division that oversees the project alongside its wider metaverse, AR, and VR developments. The division has already lost almost $8 billion in the first six months of 2023, and Meta executives are expecting to see losses “increase meaningfully” in 2024.
Despite these poor results, it seems Meta is still aiming to release a second generation of Ray-Ban Stories with improved cameras and battery life sometime next year. There’s no confirmation if these will share the same $299 price as the first-generation release. The low retention figures bring the push for a next-gen model into question considering the company’s existing losses — perhaps Meta has some tricks left up its sleeve to prevent Ray-Ban Stories from sharing the same fate as similar projects like Google Glass.