Meta Hopes Apple Vision Pro Will 'Reinvigorate' Headset Space
Formerly known as Facebook, Meta in 2021 changed its name in part to communicate its vision of a future "metaverse" in which people don its headsets and interact with each other in a completely virtual reality.
Three years on and after pouring $50 billion into investment, Meta's Quest devices barely count as 1% of the social media company's revenue, and the metaverse remains a largely nebulous concept that has so far failed to capture the imagination of customers.
But with the February 2 launch of the Apple Vision Pro just days away, executives at Meta are viewing Apple's entry into the market as a potential validation of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s AR/VR gamble that could draw more consumers into the headset space, according to sources who spoke to WSJ.
Meta employees "see the Quest and its software ecosystem emerging as a primary alternative to Apple in the space, filling the role played by Google's Android in smartphones," claims the report.
Meta is hoping that software makers will be inspired to develop apps that increasingly draw users into the space, enabling more people to experience the new virtual environments, with the company's sub-$500 Quest devices offering a more affordable alternative to Apple's high-end $3,499 headset.
Executives at Meta have also reportedly been influenced by Apple's concept of spatial computing, which emphasizes mixed reality by overlaying virtual images onto real-world surroundings. Apple unveiled the Vision Pro in June 2023, and in the meantime Meta has been "increasingly focusing on mixed reality," claims WSJ's sources.
In addition, some developers are simplifying their apps and favor Apple’s design that allows wearers to use their eyes and fingers to control or manipulate what they see. Meta’s Quest primarily relies on the use of controllers for games or applications, although it can work with finger gestures.
Notably, Apple has shunned Meta's digital reality vision at every opportunity. For example, Apple VP of global marketing Greg Joswiak has said that "metaverse" is a word he will never use. Similarly, Tim Cook was quoted in 2022 as saying he's "not sure the average person can tell you what the metaverse is."