Meta Announces Partnership Strategy: Extending Virtual Reality OS to Hardware Manufacturers, Creating Parallel to iPhone versus Android Landscape

Meta announced on Monday that it’s teaming up with other companies like Lenovo, Microsoft, and Asus to make virtual reality (VR) headsets. These headsets will use Meta’s operating system called Meta Horizon.

This partnership means new VR devices will be made by these companies, running on the same software as Meta’s own VR headsets, like the Quest 3 and Quest Pro.

This move shows how the VR hardware market is shaping up. It comes months after Apple launched its $3,500 VR headset, called Vision Pro, in January.

Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO, explained in a video on Instagram that this announcement is like the Android versus iOS situation in smartphones, but for VR headsets.

Apple's Vision Pro
Meta’s move defines the VR hardware market after Apple’s Vision Pro release. (Credits: Meta)

Apple’s VR headset will still be more expensive and made to work only with Apple products. But now, it’ll have to compete with different VR headsets made by various companies, all using Meta’s operating system.

Zuckerberg said, “In every era of computing, there are always open and closed models. With phones, Apple’s closed model won out. Phones are tightly controlled, and you’re locked into what they’ll let you do. But it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Meta’s decision to share its operating system with other hardware companies fits with its strategy for investing heavily in virtual reality (VR) technology. In the last quarter of 2023, Meta’s Reality Labs division reported a $4.65 billion loss on $1 billion in sales.

Meta has long been frustrated with Apple's rules for its App Store
Zuckerberg aims to challenge Apple’s closed model with Meta’s open platform. (Credit: Bloomberg)

Meta has long been frustrated with Apple’s rules for its App Store. Mark Zuckerberg has talked about wanting to build a new platform for virtual and augmented reality, with Meta controlling the app store. This way, Apple can’t reject Meta’s apps or charge fees. Meta’s plan to offer its operating system is the result of years of investment.

“Our goal is to make the open model the standard for the next generation of computing, with the metaverse, glasses, and headsets,” said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg also asked Google to bring its Google Play app store to VR headsets using Meta Horizon. Meta will also allow Steam and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming on its operating system. Meta Horizon is based on a version of Android, making it easier to bring phone apps to VR.

Meta Horizon OS
Meta Horizon OS allows Google Play, Steam, and Xbox Cloud Gaming on VR headsets. (Credits: Meta)

“We want you to be able to run content on Quest or any Meta Horizon operating system headset,” said Zuckerberg.

Meta hasn’t given details about its agreements with hardware partners or its business model for the software. Like Google’s Android for phones, Meta might offer the software for free and make money by directing searches to Google or selling ads. Sometimes, Google pays hardware partners.

Meta says opening up its operating system will let partners make different kinds of hardware for gaming, productivity, or lightweight devices.

Zuckerberg imagined a device that might come with Xbox controllers. Meta plans to make a version of its Quest headset inspired by Xbox. It might take a couple of years for these new devices to be available.

Michael Manua
Michael Manua
Michael, a seasoned market news expert with 29 years of experience, offers unparalleled insights into financial markets. At 61, he has a track record of providing accurate, impactful analyses, making him a trusted voice in financial journalism.
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