Meta is in a “very deep, philosophical competition” with Apple over the future of technology and the metaverse, the social network’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees in an internal meeting last month, reported by The Verge.
It’s no secret Meta and Apple have been competitors for several years, with the rivalry ramping up in recent years over privacy and the different approaches to user tracking. The competition is expected to heat up as both companies take seemingly different approaches to the “metaverse” and AR/VR. While Meta has begun its journey into the “metaverse,” revealing its vision for the future of the internet and releasing accompanying VR headsets, Apple has yet to make a big entrance into the AR/VR space.
That is all set to change, however, as Apple is nearing the launch of its first AR/VR headset for early next year. Responding to a question from an employee about how Apple’s launch of an AR/VR headset could impact Meta’s plan, Zuckerberg responded by saying it’s “pretty clear that Apple is going to be a competitor for us.” Zuckerberg continued, saying the competition will go beyond simply offering the best AR/VR hardware and will also play out “philosophically.”
I think it’s pretty clear that Apple is going to be a competitor for us, not just as a product but philosophically. We’re approaching this in an open way and trying to build a more open ecosystem. We’re trying to make more stuff interoperable with Android. We’re trying to develop the metaverse in a way where you can bring your virtual goods from one world to another. We created the Metaverse Open Standards Group with a bunch of other folks that you just mentioned, and Apple didn’t join.
This is a competition of “ideas,” Zuckerberg went on to claim in the June 30 meeting. Apple believes in “doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that to build a better consumer experience,” he said. On the other hand, Meta sees the need for a “larger ecosystem to exist.”
Zuckerberg admits, however, that it’s unclear whether a “closed ecosystem,” which he claims Apple to have, or an open ecosystem from Meta, would be better suited for the metaverse.
One of the things I think is interesting is that it’s not really clear up front whether an open or closed ecosystem is going to be better. If you look back to PCs, Windows was clearly the one that had a lot more scale and became the default and norm that people used. And Mac did fine, but I think PC and Windows were, I think, the premier ecosystem in that environment.
On mobile, I would say it’s more the other way. There’s more Android devices than there are iOS devices, but I think in developed countries and places like the US or Western Europe in kind of the high end, [and] a lot of the culture-setters and developers, I do think that skews quite a bit more towards iPhone and iOS. So I’d say on mobile, Apple has really carved out quite a good position for themselves, and that’s why they’re the most valuable company in the world, or maybe one of the couple most valuable companies in the world.
Zuckerberg said that Meta’s north star should be, and is, whether it will be able to get over a billion people into the metaverse, shopping and spending hundreds of dollars in digital commerce.
Our north star is can we get a billion people into the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars a piece in digital commerce by the end of the decade? If we do that, we’ll build a business that is as big as our current ad business within this decade. I think that’s a really exciting thing. I think a big part of how you do that is by pushing the open metaverse forward, which is what we’re going to do.
Wrapping up his response to the question, Zuckerberg summed up Meta’s competition with Apple as going beyond simply the metaverse but also the future of the internet as a whole.
So yeah, Apple is going to be a competitor. I think that’s pretty clear, but it’s actually a very deep competitor. It’s not fair [that] they have a device that has some more features than us. It’s a very deep, philosophical competition about what direction the internet should go in. And I am proud of the investments that we’re making to help push forward the open metaverse on this and hopefully make the next version of computing a bit more open.
You can learn more about Apple’s AR/VR plans by visiting our comprehensive roundup.