The rivalry between Meta and Apple is moving to a new playing field: virtual reality


New York
CNN

A few months after Apple released Privacy Change That threatened Facebook’s core advertising business, the social networking company rebranded as Meta and shifted its focus to virtual reality.

Now, less than two years later, Apple is threatening the Meta’s business as well.

Apple

(AAPL)
on Monday Published Its mixed reality headset, the Vision Pro, is one of its most ambitious products. At the start of the company’s annual developer conference, Apple

(AAPL)
CEO Tim Cook called the Vision Pro, a $3,499 device that combines virtual reality and augmented reality, a “revolutionary product.”

The A new Apple productSet to launch early next year, Apple will be in direct competition with the Meta, which has been developing headsets for years.

On Thursday, just days before WWDC, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to pre-empt Apple’s expected headset announcement by teasing it. Meta Quest 3. The new headset promises improved performance, new mixed-reality features and a sleek, comfortable design at a very affordable price ($499).

Every era of consumer technology seems to be shaped by heated competition. Apple’s rivalry with Microsoft

(MSFT)
It was the centerpiece of the early personal computer era. Apple’s late CEO Steve Jobs declared “thermonuclear war” against Google over smartphones. Now, Apple and Meta may be the defining rivalry of the VR/AR era.

The two companies had a tense relationship even before Apple entered the market. They competed on news and messaging features, and their CEOs traded jabs over data privacy and App Store policies. Last February, Meta said Apple’s move to control how apps like Facebook collect data for targeted ads is expected to hit $10 billion by 2022.

But the competition is poised to reach a new level.

Meta has dominated the headset market so far. But virtual and augmented reality is a nascent market with little mainstream consumer adoption. The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Meta had just 200,000 active users on Horizon Worlds, its app for socializing in VR. And in 2023, I.T.C Assessments Just 10.1 million AR/VR headsets will ship globally from the entire market, far less than the tens of thousands of iPhones Apple sells each quarter.

Morgan Stanley analysts called the Apple Vision Pro a “moonshot” venture following its announcement on Monday, saying the product “has the potential to become Apple’s next computing platform” but said the company has “a lot to prove” before the headset launches next year.

“We’re always excited when more people join us in building the future,” Sheeva Sloven, spokeswoman for Meta’s Reality Labs division, said in a statement to CNN.

Apple and Meta will end up in a race to see not only who can get consumers to choose their product, but whether any of them can get millions of customers to buy into this new wave of technology.

In many ways Apple is outgrowing its existing loyal customer base Two billion devicesImpressive hardware chops and access to hundreds of stores where customers can try on the device.

“Up until this moment everything felt like a prelude to me, Apple was preparing for this moment when it took this into the public consciousness and let people know, hey, these technologies are real, this isn’t just a gimmick. ” Eric Alexander, founder of VR music experiences app Soundscape, told CNN following Apple’s announcement.

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The iPhone maker also seems to be marketing its device differently. Apple chose not to focus on the term “virtual reality” or show avatars inhabiting a virtual world without legs, as Meta initially did. Instead, Apple leveraged the headset’s ability to integrate more seamlessly with users’ real-world lives through augmented reality, a technology that overlays virtual objects onto live video of the real world.

“I don’t think Apple sees itself as a competitor with Meta,” said Julie Ask, principal analyst at Forrester. Zuckerberg said, “Everyone is in this virtual world, and it’s not about Apple. Apple says, ‘We don’t want people to be cut off from the real world … we want to improve the world where consumers are.’

The Quest 3 headset that Meta teased last week is a mixed reality headset with AR capabilities, so it looks like Meta could be closer to Apple’s approach in the future. However, Zuckerberg released a demo video Instagram This indicates that the device is still largely focused on gaming.

From Meta

Meta teased its new Quest 3 headset days before Apple’s Vision Pro announcement.

Many analysts say the biggest barrier to consumer adoption of mixed reality headsets is ensuring the devices have a wide range of potential use cases and experiences.

Although Meta has introduced features that allow users to play games, explore virtual worlds, watch YouTube videos, exercise, chat with friends, and more, it still hasn’t convinced most consumers that the device is worthwhile.

Apple’s announcement at WWDC was aimed at ensuring that the large base of developers in its ecosystem can help create compelling new experiences before the device launches.

Developing new AR and VR apps requires a significant investment, not to mention time with a device, so it may take some time for Vision Pro to have a wider range of experiences, Alexander said. Lack of controllers and other accessories may make it difficult for developers to create certain types of apps, such as games, for the new device.

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However, at Monday’s event, Apple touted features like Disney+ from Disney and gaming giant Unity, which will be available on the device from the start in the iPhone maker’s existing suite of services.

Apple’s Vision One “isn’t a device that I buy and think, ‘Oh, now I have to buy content,'” Forrester’s Ask said. “It’s a device that, if I buy it, it has a very intuitive interface … It’s a place where I can watch my Apple TV and movies and everything. It’s not, ‘Oh, I just bought this device, what do I do with it?’

DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte compared the launch of the Vision Pro to the launch of the iPhone following BlackBerry, an unfavorable comparison that would make Zuckerberg frown. (Forte noted that the Meta’s headset is less likely to fade into disrepair, as BlackBerry eventually did.)

“BlackBerry has proven that there is a market for smartphones and has built a dominant position, but what it hasn’t really done is applications,” Forte said, noting that the iPhone introduced the idea of ​​having a variety of use cases. A device. “In some respects, it’s like the iPhone, and we’ll have to see the ecosystem evolve over time for it to be successful.”

But if Apple succeeds in gaining widespread consumer adoption of mixed reality headsets, the Meta could benefit from an expansion as it’s still a budget choice, Forte said.

Meta’s stock rose slightly on Tuesday following Apple’s announcement.

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