In the extremely unlikely event that you were excited about your next watch not being made by Timex or Seiko, but Facebook owner Meta, we’ve got some bad news. The company’s first smartwatch has been officially abandoned, according to Reuters.
Actually, it’s the first, second and third smartwatches, if an earlier report from The Verge is accurate. Meta believed so much in the smartwatch’s potential that it apparently had plans for three generations all sketched out. An image of an early prototype (above) was even found in the Ray-Ban Stories app by Bloomberg.
But now it looks like none of them will see the light of day. Meta has slashed over 11,000 jobs — more than the population of Waiuku, but somehow only 13% of its total workforce — and hardware is a big casualty.
As well as the death of the smartwatch before it even arrived, Meta has apparently also killed off Portal, its video-calling hardware raved about by Facebook employees in Amazon reviews, but otherwise largely ignored.
While few will mourn the loss of Portal, Meta’s abandoned wearable does at least sound conceptually interesting in a world where smartwatches largely do the same things in near-identical form factors.
Alongside the usual fitness tracking and messaging (Meta does own both Messenger and WhatsApp after all), the Meta Watch would have had a big focus on photography and video taking with social sharing on Instagram and Facebook in mind.
To that end, it had two cameras — one on the screen for video calls, and another 1080p auto-focus lens on the back, only accessible when the face had been removed from the frame. The idea is that you could pop it out and use it as a miniature camera with the main screen as a dinky viewfinder. That’s kind of neat.
Of course, “kind of neat” probably doesn’t translate into mass sales — especially when nearly everyone with a smartphone has a free camera in their pocket already. With that in mind, you can’t blame Meta for putting this idea on the scrap heap — even if it seems like a home run compared to the white elephant of the metaverse.