My Thoughts on XR: Apple vs. Meta

Jack Yang
Antaeus AR
Published in
6 min readJun 9, 2023

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This week has undoubtedly been one of the most exciting in my seven years in the XR industry. With the release of Meta Quest 3 and Apple Vision Pro, XR is about to step into a new era. I want to use this article to delve into the current strategies of the two industry giants in the XR field and share my personal views.

Mark Zuckerberg’s View on Vision Pro

Mark Zuckerberg discussed his view on Apple’s headset a few days after the launch of Vision Pro at Meta’s All Hands meeting and on Lex Fridman’s blog. I asked ChatGPT to summarize it, and there are many channels online to see it:

  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, doesn’t seem to be shocked by the release of Apple’s Vision Pro. He believes that Apple’s device hasn’t shown any major technological breakthroughs that Meta hasn’t explored.
  • He stated that the upcoming Quest 3 headset from Meta will be cheaper than the Vision Pro, thereby attracting a broader user base. Zuckerberg emphasized that Meta focuses on enabling people to interact and engage in new ways, while Apple’s demonstration focused on an individual sitting on a couch.
  • Zuckerberg admitted that Apple’s entrance into virtual reality and augmented reality posed a competitive threat to Meta. Even though Apple’s product is priced higher, he thinks that cheaper alternatives like Quest 3 could be the primary beneficiaries, as they are more affordable for a broader audience.
  • Meta has had early success in VR gaming and fitness but has been struggling to win over the higher-end and general computing market that Apple is targeting. Additionally, he pointed out that it’s noteworthy that Apple did not mention gaming in their product introduction.
  • About Apple’s Vision Pro, Zuckerberg commented on some trade-offs that Apple made, such as opting for a higher resolution display which increased the cost and energy demand of the device. He also emphasized design differences, like Apple’s decision not to use controllers but to use eye-tracking and hand-tracking instead. Although this looks advanced, it could limit the gaming experience due to a lack of haptic feedback.

Overall, Zuckerberg believes the entry of giants like Apple into the field proves the value of the mixed reality market. He is positive about the competition with Apple and is excited and optimistic about Meta’s direction. He believes that “this will be an interesting journey”.

My Views on Apple and Meta in the XR Industry

  1. Meta has made significant contributions to XR, but Apple has builtin advantages

Meta’s contribution to the XR industry is undeniable. Despite much of the motivation coming from the company’s survival needs, Zuckerberg’s yearly investment of billions of dollars into Reality Lab has brought about one innovation after another for the XR industry. At the same time, it has also played an important role in promoting XR headsets, and Meta’s headsets have become a standard in the industry. Although Apple has only released one headset and very few people have tried it, it instantly becomes a new benchmark in the XR industry. I believe this is largely due to Apple’s brand building over the years and the synergistic effect of its hardware and ecosystem.

Zuckerberg’s claim that Vision Pro did not make a significant breakthrough in the XR field is somewhat reasonable. As I mentioned in my previous article, most of Vision Pro’s interactions, hardware, and software have existed for many years. However, with its unique hardware advantages and brand influence, Apple has managed to present its headset to consumers in a storytelling manner while maintaining high standards, thereby making a lot of people excited.

2. Meta and Apple have different visions for the future of XR

From Zuckerberg’s remarks, we can see that his vision for the future of XR is immersive, slightly different from Apple’s perspective. I believe that neither of these views is absolutely right or wrong, and the future will likely be a combination of the two. For example, people today both immerse themselves in games to socialize with friends (immersive) and maintain communication through videos (interactive).

This difference in understanding XR can also be seen in the market positioning of the two companies' products. Meta Quest mainly targets gaming and virtual socializing (like Horizon World), while Apple’s Vision Pro focuses more on productivity and various interactive applications (like EyeSight, 3D photography, FaceTime). Both have their unique advantages, and I will further discuss their possible directions in the long run.

3. Although Meta and Apple have different market approaches, they will converge at some point in the future

Zuckerberg mentioned in the interview that Meta and Apple have entirely different ways of entering the market: the former is dedicated to promoting XR’s popularity, while the latter is focused on creating high-end products. These two strategies align perfectly with their respective companies’ brands. Meta, as a social media company with a limited hardware background, aims to have more people use its products and benefit from its existing social network, so Quest offers good value for the money. As a consumer hardware company, Apple, with its powerful ecosystem, aims to create high-end product and gradually popularize it like the first-generation iPhone and iPad. Thus, even though Vision Pro is pricier, it is very well-built and is a hardware powerhouse. Performance-wise, the current Quest is more like a wearable Android phone, while Vision Pro is more like a wearable Mac, and the price difference reflects this.

Although Meta and Apple are not on the exact same frontline at the moment, with the advancement of time and technology, the price of Apple’s headset will gradually decrease, Meta’s headset performance will gradually improve, and their price-performance ratios will converge progressively. When the price-performance ratios are similar, many other factors, such as interaction experience and user privacy, will become important factors in determining the development of their respective products.

4. Protecting user privacy will become a new battlefield

I personally believe that Meta’s reputation in protecting user privacy will have a profound impact on the development of its XR business. Whether VR devices (like Quest, Vision Pro) or AR devices (like Hololens, Magic Leap), they rely heavily on cameras to understand the user’s environment. Some special sensors, such as eye tracking, finger tracking, and body tracking, also need to obtain highly personal information from users. As advertising is Meta’s core business, this conflicts directly with the protection of user privacy. How to handle this XR user information, and whether people are willing to bring Meta devices into their homes, will be key factors determining whether Meta can succeed.

By contrast, Apple has always actively promoted its efforts in protecting user privacy. In this Vision Pro launch, Apple, as expected, set up a special section to talk about the technology it uses to protect user privacy. Although the Vision Pro user base is much smaller compared to Quest, in the long run, Apple can use its protection of user privacy as a major competitive advantage. In general, as MR headsets become more popular and the collection of user information increases, user privacy protection will become a new battlefield.

5. Who will be the ultimate winner?

The true winner will be proven over time, largely depending on how each company capitalizes on its strengths and avoids its weaknesses. In my opinion, Apple’s winning factors include its powerful ecosystem, excellent hardware craftsmanship, and loyal user base. Apple’s current weakness is the relatively scarce content due to its late entry into the XR field, but its cooperation with the game engine Unity and Disney shows that Apple is working hard to make up for this.

For Meta, its advantages lie in the tens of millions of Quests already sold, a vast XR network, and a rich array of applications. Meta’s current shortcoming is the lack of a complete ecosystem, but its cooperation with Microsoft and AR headset manufacturer Magic Leap shows that it is trying to change this.

In summary, Apple’s participation has injected new energy into the XR industry. I believe that consumers will be the biggest winners, as people have more choices than ever before, as well as the innovations and improved user experiences brought about by competition.

Thanks for reading my article. Feel free to share your thoughts with me.

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Jack Yang
Antaeus AR

Mixed Reality Engineer • Reimagining Reality with XR • https://jackyang.io/