Apple’s upcoming AR/VR headset is expected to be unveiled at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) event in June, and CEO Tim Cook’s vision for the device puts Apple on a direct collision course with Meta, the current AR/VR market leader. In a recent interview with GQ, Cook outlined how an AR/VR headset could enhance communication and connection for users, a statement that is likely to concern Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.
Meta has been working on AR/VR headsets since it acquired Oculus in 2014 and has been developing the metaverse, a series of interconnected online worlds that enable users to communicate and connect virtually. Meta’s current offering is Meta Horizon Worlds, where users can meet as virtual avatars and play games, attend concerts, and chat. The company is collaborating with Microsoft to bring Teams and Microsoft 365 productivity apps to its Quest headsets. Zuckerberg’s goal is to develop a lightweight headset that can overlay the virtual world onto the physical world via augmented reality.
Cook’s vision for the AR/VR headset aligns with Meta’s goal. Cook wants to create an environment that is better than the real world, and overlaying the virtual world on top of it would be an even better world. Apple’s entry into the AR/VR space could threaten Meta’s dominance, as Apple has a track record of entering established spaces and becoming the dominant force.
The relationship between Apple and Meta has been acrimonious, with Apple’s privacy stance limiting Meta’s ability to track users. Meta estimates that Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature cost the company as much as $10 billion in 2022 alone. Meta has now moved beyond that roadblock but is contending with a slowdown in the digital advertising market. Cook has repeatedly criticized app developers for vacuuming up user data, which has hit a nerve with Meta. The company assisted Epic Games in its antitrust suit against Apple, which challenged Apple’s ability to force app makers to use its own Apple Store payment methods.
While Meta is currently the AR/VR market leader, Apple’s AR/VR headset could change that soon. Apple’s history of disrupting established markets makes it a formidable competitor, and its entry into the AR/VR space could pose a significant challenge for Meta.