Zuckerberg: Apple, Meta are in “deep, philosophical competition”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta and Apple are entering a period of “very deep, philosophical competition” that will shape the future of the Internet, according to comments from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg obtained by The Verge.

Both Apple and Meta plan to invest heavily in mixed reality over the next decade, but they have diametrically opposed visions of what the AR/VR/XR landscape should ideally look like.

The Verge obtained an audio recording of an employee meeting at Meta, in which Zuckerberg answered in detail an employee question about the company’s future competition with Apple. His comments shed some light on how Meta sees the rivalry, anyway.

“I think it’s pretty clear that Apple is going to be a competitor for us, not just as a product, but also philosophically,” Zuckerberg said. “We’re approaching this in an open way and trying to build a more open ecosystem.” He noted that Meta co-founded the Metaverse Open Standards Group with other companies such as Microsoft, with the aim of establishing a degree of interoperability or asset transferability between virtual spaces. Apple didn’t participate, and Zuckerberg said, “I don’t think that’s a surprise.”

He continued:

This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and integrating closely, they can build a better consumer experience. And we believe there is a lot to do in terms of specialization at different companies, and [that] will enable a much larger ecosystem.

One of the things I find interesting is that it’s not really clear whether an open or closed ecosystem will be better. If you look back at PCs, Windows was clearly the one that had a lot more scale and became the standard and norm that people used. And Mac was doing fine, but I think PC and Windows were, I think, the most important ecosystem in that environment.

On mobile, I’d say it’s more the other way around. There are more Android devices than iOS devices, but I think in developed countries and places like the US or Western Europe in some kind of high-end, [and] a lot of the culture makers and developers, I think that leans quite a bit more towards iPhone and iOS. So I’d say on mobile, Apple has really put themselves in a pretty good position, and that’s why they’re the most valuable company in the world, or maybe one of the most valuable companies in the world.

Both Zuckerberg and Apple CEO Tim Cook have said in the past that they believe augmented reality, virtual reality or mixed reality will be the next major computing platform after the desktop and mobile era.

And Zuckerberg’s quotes suggest that while Apple predictably follows the same closed ecosystem as before with the Mac (desktop) and iPhone (mobile), he sees Meta take on the more open role of Windows or Android for mixed reality.

But he also said, “I just don’t think the future isn’t written here for the metaverse yet,” and admits he doesn’t know if the strategy he’s deployed his entire company on will ultimately be the right one.

He ended his comments with:

Apple becomes a competitor. I think that’s pretty obvious, but it’s actually a very deep competitor. It’s not right [that] they have a device that has a little more features than us. It’s a very in-depth, philosophical contest about which direction the internet should take. And I’m proud of the investment we’re making to push the open metaverse forward in this and hopefully make the next version of computing a little bit more open.

According to leaks and analysts, Apple is nearing readiness to launch its first mixed reality headset, an AR/VR hybrid device that will be built on the company’s recent advances in chip design and sold at an additional cost, and the company is also planning an AR headset sometime in the next few years.

And Meta already more or less owns the VR marketplace after acquiring Oculus with the popular Quest headset. Meta also plans to launch a mixed reality headset soon – and it plans to introduce AR glasses later on as well.

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