Meta Begins Battling Apple by Licensing Headgear Operating Systems

Beginning with Lenovo and Asus, Meta has begun licensing the Quest headset’s operating system to other hardware manufacturers. Additionally, it is developing a gaming-focused, limited-run Quest with Xbox.

In keeping with the opening up theme, Meta is advocating for additional avenues for users to find other app shops. It’s increasing the visibility of its experimental App Lab shop and even extending an invitation to Google to integrate the Play shop into its now-renamed Horizon OS operating system. Additionally, Meta stated in a blog post that it is developing a spatial framework to facilitate the easier porting of mobile apps to Horizon OS for developers.

The Horizon social layer, a 3D open-world platform akin to Roblox meets The Sims, is a crucial component of Horizon OS for Meta. Following a slow and glitchy launch on the Quest, Meta has been refining Horizon and has just launched it as a 2D experience on the web. Now, any hardware manufacturer wishing to create a gadget running Horizon OS will contribute to the social network’s growth, which Meta hopes to someday monetize through advertising and sales.

Other than the social network tie-in and the need for Qualcomm chips, Meta has not yet disclosed any more details about the business terms of its Horizon OS licensing. In a video introducing the news, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated, “You can imagine a lightweight headset that pairs with your computer on your desk to provide the best work experience at home or anywhere you go.” “Or imagine one that’s fully focused on watching immersive entertainment like movies and videos with the highest resolution OLED screens out there.” Xbox, Lenovo, and Asus spokespeople did not return calls seeking comment.

It’s no secret that Zuckerberg wants his business to operate on a more transparent platform than Apple’s. He is promoting Meta’s Horizon OS here as the Android equivalent of Apple’s Vision Pro. He would probably prefer to compare Android to how Microsoft created the early PC market by licensing Windows, as Android was more of a response to the iPhone.

Microsoft previously made an effort to convert Windows into an operating system for VR headsets through its Windows Mixed Reality project, but it also backed Meta’s first Oculus Rift to reduce its risk. When Meta’s headgear was first released in 2016, it came with an Xbox gamepad. and Xbox One game streaming was added to it shortly after. Microsoft stated at the time that it would only produce a VR headset of its own if it had “something unique to add.”

The change at Meta has been long overdue. In a chat with me in the fall of 2022, Zuckerberg stated, “In the open ecosystem, you basically have much broader partnerships.” “So Microsoft didn’t build the chips; they didn’t build the PCs; they didn’t build the App Store. It was all this key stuff that was developed around the ecosystem. Similar to Android. And that’s basically what we hope to build here — is the open ecosystem for the next generation of computing around virtual and augmented reality in the metaverse more broadly, which means that there are going to need to be all these partnerships.”

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