Meta Clashes With Apple Over ‘Open Or Closed’ Metaverse – ExtremeTech | Hot Mobile Press

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It’s PC vs Mac war again, but this time it’s Meta vs Apple. At least that will develop according to Mark Zuckerberg. In a recent all-hands meeting, the Meta CEO stated that the upcoming battle for control of the metaverse will not only be between him and Apple. It will also be a philosophical battle, pitting open standards against Apple’s locked-down, walled garden. If this sounds familiar, it’s almost exactly the same battle that played out between Apple and Microsoft decades ago. Apple wanted to control both the hardware and software for Mac, while Microsoft took the opposite approach. It had other companies design hardware for its software and ultimately won that battle. Now it looks like a similar showdown of ideas is about to happen in the Metaverse.

Zuckerberg’s comments made Meta’s position pretty clear. It builds virtual reality (VR) hardware that can be used on various online platforms. So if you have a Meta Quest 2 headset, you are not limited to just enjoying software made by Meta or online worlds. You could theoretically go to other metaverses and also move valuables between platforms. While Apple has yet to announce or release its VR headset, it’s expected to be typically Apple when it does. That means Apple will be the gatekeeper. For example, there probably won’t be a way to use an Apple headset in a meta-based online world. That is, unless Meta creates a version you can download from the Apple App Store, which is highly unlikely.

Meta’s mysterious project Cambria will be released this year. (Image: Meta)

In his comments, Zuckerberg also draws a comparison between Android and iOS. iOS is notoriously locked down as all apps require approval from Apple. However, Android allows sideloading of unapproved apps. This lax policy has allowed Android to overtake iOS in global market share, but iOS is still the leader in the US. Zuckerberg goes on to say that Apple’s mobile strategy has largely worked, as it’s difficult to dispute the iPhone’s success. However, he noted that it’s not clear if the same approach will work for the Metaverse. “One of the things I find interesting is that it’s not really clear in advance whether an open or closed ecosystem is going to be better,” he said. (Open versus closed is much less important than “Facebook” versus literally “Everyone else but Facebook”. – ed.)

As a testament to its commitment to open standards, Meta helped spearhead the development of an open standards group for the Metaverse last month. Companies like Epic Games, Microsoft, Nvidia and Sony joined this effort. Apple didn’t join the consortium, to no one’s surprise right now. Apple’s refusal to join the group, combined with its past behavior, seems to signal that it will continue its lockdown approach with its VR headset.

Overall, according to The Verge, Zuckerberg sees this upcoming battle as a war over philosophies. “This is a competition of philosophies and ideas where they believe they create a better consumer experience by doing everything themselves and integrating it tightly. And we believe there’s a lot to do with specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”

This rough mockup accompanied one of Apple’s AR/VR patent filings. (Image: USPTO)

Apple is expected to unveil its young VR headset at its hardware event in October. It would theoretically go on sale sometime in 2023. The company has reportedly been working on its design for over seven years. It has also overhauled all of its native apps to work with a brand new mixed reality operating system called rOS for Reality Operating System. At the same time, Meta has shared glimpses of its first high-end headset, called Project Cambria (above), which is expected to directly compete with Apple’s headset.

Though Apple lost the war for the lion’s share of the PC market with its “tightly integrated” approach, it remains to be seen if that will work for the Meterverse, as Zuckerberg notes. Still, it’s hard to rule Apple out of anything as it tends to dominate any market it enters. However, a big factor will be pricing, which Zuckerberg alludes to in his comments. He says the company breaks even or loses money on every Quest 2 headset sold. That’s because it just wants people to get into the Metaverse and then open their wallets.

In contrast, Apple doesn’t work that way. It must have a non-trivial profit margin, otherwise it wouldn’t bother. That is, unless it can make money on the software side, as is the case with gaming. The Metaverse doesn’t work that way, however, as you’ll likely need Apple’s headset to enjoy the company’s approved offerings.

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