Google's Persuasion: Encouraging Meta to Embrace the Future with Android XR Platform

Google's Persuasion: Encouraging Meta to Embrace the Future with Android XR Platform
According to The Information, Google offered to combine efforts in the development of its "upcoming XR platform" and to "contribute to" it. This would make sense, given how augmented reality shades into virtual reality, and Meta has been doing interesting things like valley folding Fresnel lenses, and releasing open research on predictive modeling to create more realistic virtual humans. Despite some recent news, however, the company also told TechCrunch it had no interest in letting users search with their finger in VR, saying it was a "hoax" after a leaked video got some attention.

"Unfortunately, Google's invitations for us to collaborate in XR include a lot of language about how we'd be the ones on our back foot if we weren't willing to do things on their restrictive terms. They have been less than hospitable in this regard. Case in point, despite not doing much of anything in the XR space for years now they have been out trying to get AndroidXR nailed up with partners, slopping us in with the rest of what I can only assume they believe is the competition. They've been less than hospitable in many ways. For example, when we could get value to over a thousand developers in days if they'd put their apps into Quest (something they did quite recently for about a thousand HMDs in China), they won't do it unless we put a bunch of far-reaching admin rights into the Android Manifest and metadata which would take down our production systems and be a vector for future giant pain in the ass meetings with them."

It's clear how Quest has had success where Fire Phone did not, but Google retreated from pure VR into AR. Why should Samsung jump on board this time? In 2023, the company announced it was "working with Google to bring an operating system built from the core of Android to virtual reality." It was named Android XR, and the report indicates that "Google has pitched Android XR to various hardware makers, including Samsung." There are no details on anyone else accepting that offer as it stands. (A Google spokesperson also didn't immediately provide a comment.)

Yet, over the weekend, in Oculus Quest 2 storage, The information found clear evidence Meta is working with Google to develop a Pixelsense (a color and depth two-camera sensor system that the report and patent seem sure to be) for the Quest Pro. This illustrates the stark similarities potential and confrontation of both companies' XR strategies, looking to attract OEM to their respective platforms. Meta has "a massive slate" of immersive content and an "enormous cadre" of first-party hardware in production but lacks "a flatscreen computing platform." The second slide reveals Google's strength here, indicating that it can, through its Play Store, bring "millions of 2D apps, games, utilities and productivity software" to Android XR. Bugs were less satisfied with this slide; Cheers to Meta seemed to sigh.
Google's Persuasion: Encouraging Meta to Embrace the Future with Android XR Platform

In January 2022, reports emerged that Meta had wanted the Play Store on Quest and that, in fact, the company had asked Google for it. Google, however, declined the request. Had Google agreed, it seems feasible that it would have become possible to construct an XR platform in collaboration with Meta. This would doubtless have been an extensive project, full of technical and business challenges; in keeping with both Google’s and Meta’s widely divergent philosophies around XR platform development, it seems likely that a variety of powerful stakeholders, including partners and paid advertisers on one hand and antitrust regulators and major competitors on the other hand, would have had heavy input into the business details and decision-making processes.


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