Metaverse’s business plan is not to recreate an alternate reality like Second Life, but equipped with current technologies. It is true that Mark Zuckerberg’s constant presentations in the Metaverse at fencing, surfing or running rallies are connected to the scenario that the film painted. Ready player first: A virtual world from which to escape from a world ravaged by growing inequality and climate change. But what lies behind the Metaverse is not video games and avatars, but a commitment to a set of technologies that aspire to replace the mobile phone as the primary intermediary between people and digital services. A bet in which Apple could not be missed.
The brand unveiled its virtual and augmented reality glasses at its annual developer conference this Monday, its final foray into the sector. He calls them Vision Pro and sees them as the first step in the “spatial computing” phase of the further digitization of traditional computers and mobile computing. “Vision Pro is a computer that augments reality by integrating physical reality with virtual reality,” said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple: “It transforms your environment into a space of limitless possibilities.
“You’ll never need a screen again,” Cook claimed. Apple hasn’t announced a price for the European market, but it will be available in the US this fall for $3,500 (€3,266), which is twice as much as the next-generation iPhone. “This is the most advanced personal electronic device in history,” justifies the brand.
The device represents a significant leap compared to what the competition has shown so far. According to Apple, the glasses allow you to see outside as if they were transparent glasses. They include two very high-resolution screens, one for each eye, that contain “64 pixels in the space where the iPhone has one pixel.” A total of 23 million pixels for each eye. Through them, they introduce all existing digital services, such as video calls or any application that can be displayed on a normal screen, into the user’s personal space.
The Vision Pro doesn’t need the controls to work, as they do with other virtual reality glasses like the ones from Meta. Apple’s presentation showed that the device can be controlled by hand movements. “The feeling is real, as if you were moving real objects,” their representatives explain. It’s a technology that various multinationals have been working on over the years, but Apple was the first to incorporate it into a large-scale product.
The glasses have cameras aimed at the user’s eyes and an external display that always shows his orientation. This, Apple maintains, will allow the device to be used and interact with people around them without having to remove them. People who wear glasses to correct their vision will be able to configure the Vision Pro to adjust them to their specific vision, for which Apple worked with Zeiss to design special lenses.
The device will have its own operating system, and Cook announced that the thousands of apps already available for the iPhone will also be available for the Vision Pro from its launch. Apple also announced special deals with Disney or the NBA to bring content created specifically for its new glasses.
The battery will be an external device for the glasses and will be connected to them via a cable. This way it can be stored in a pocket or other surface without affecting the weight of the device.
Huge device control business
Moving from mobile screens to augmented or virtual reality with glasses is a risky bet. The possibility of it falling on deaf ears due to consumer backlash is real, but it is extremely important for large companies not to be left out of this development and to have an alternative ready. Zuckerberg, who spent 20 years relying on competing devices to reach consumers despite being the world’s most in-demand digital product, can explain why.
Metaverse’s bet is not just on Metaverse itself, but on the simultaneous software and hardware control of technology inherited from mobile phones. That’s exactly what Apple has done over the past two decades with the iPhone, the product that made it the world’s most valuable company. If glasses can be the new interpreter of digital life, controlling glasses is a priority strategy for technology multinationals.
Mastery of technique is a direct way of income. Apple and Google pay a fee to all developers who want to install their apps on iPhones or Android phones. Their rates are as high as 30% of any payment or subscription generated on their devices. Several companies, such as the developer of the popular video game Fortnite, have denounced the situation as a monopoly. Justice did not find them right. Apple recently won a major lawsuit in this regard, which recognized the right to collect this fee.
Controlling digital technology techniques is also an increasingly direct way to significantly increase advertising revenue. Amid an international debate on how to make targeted ads less invasive to privacy, Google and Apple are proposing to become guardians of their users’ personal data. They propose eliminating the secondary market in which citizens’ information is bought and sold without their control, in exchange for a middleman between them and advertisers.
Both multinationals’ plans give consumers more options when it comes to controlling their data, as it prevents it from being distributed around the world to the countless companies that once had an interest in it. Instead, they strengthen their central role in the advertising market and make the rest of the sector extremely dependent on them. This has been Google’s business model almost since its inception, but not Apple’s. His famous “Ask an app not to track you” brought him an additional $4 billion in 2022 alone.
In contrast, this type of policy that restricts the release of personal data from the device (both Goofle and Apple’s data protection laws) has caused Meta to lose tens of billions of dollars since 2020.
Meta presents the third pair of glasses
In a surprise announcement, Meta unveiled its Oculus Quest 3, its third-generation virtual reality headset, on Saturday. The company increases the power and reduces the size and weight of the device, this model is 40% thinner than the previous one. It will feature what the company calls “color mixed reality,” which combines elements of augmented and virtual reality, Zuckerberg explained on his Instagram account.
Meta has not yet confirmed the price of this new model in Europe, but in the US it will be $499 (€465). It will go on sale in the fall. “This new experience goes beyond today’s mixed reality by intelligently understanding and responding to objects in their physical space, enabling natural and intuitive space navigation that was nearly impossible before,” Zuckerberg said.
Meta did not offer updated data on users of Horizon Worlds (its Metaverse social network) as of February 2022. He then announced that his new virtual world already had 300,000 members. However, at the end of the year The Wall Street Journal revealed that in a few months they had lost almost a third. The race to the metaverse continues with Apple’s new product, even though consumers haven’t shown much interest so far.
Source: El Diario