Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Sony, and other tech giants have formed a group designed to ensure interoperability in the metaverse. Notably absent from this list of heavyweights is Apple, a company heavily rumored to be working on its own mixed reality products.
The new metaverse organization is hoping to enable communication between companies involved in the metaverse, so each vision of this theoretical hybrid world can work together to “create market opportunities” and ensure the metaverse is “open and accessible to all.”
To be clear, the new “Metaverse Standards Forum” isn’t a new standards organization (despite what the name implies), but rather, a collective whose goal is to outline requirements and provide support to existing standards organizations. On its website, the “forum” says it isn’t trying to define the metaverse or force companies to use certain technologies.
“The Forum will build consensus on which metaverse-relevant interoperability problems can be improved today through standardization work and actionable projects. We are ‘baking the open standard bricks’ for the metaverse, not ‘trying to design the metaverse cathedral,’” the group states.
Other household names among the founding members of the Metaverse Standards Forum include Adobe, Ikea, Huawei, Epic Games, Qualcomm, and Unity. There are more than 35 companies involved, and the group is actively recruiting. Neil Trevett, an executive at Nvidia who is charging the forum, told Reuters that any company is welcome to join, including those in cryptocurrency.
Not on the list is Apple, a company that analysts believe will be at the forefront of virtual and augmented reality within the next few years. Apple has been involved in the creation of industry-wide standards in the past, such as HTML5 for the web and Thunderbolt in partnership with Intel. At its WWDC 2022 event, the company flaunted its involvement with Matter, a smart home connectivity standard backed by the biggest names in the industry.
When Apple releases its headset, the company will be in direct competition with current market leader Meta, which changed its name from Facebook to signal a pivot from traditional social media efforts to the metaverse. Apple and Meta don’t exactly have the strongest relationship due to their differing views on ad-targeting practices. Apple hasn’t explained why it isn’t a member of this new metaverse organization, but it could have to do with what the company calls “hypocrisy” on the part of Meta for charging a heavy fee to creators selling digital assets. We’ve reached out to Apple for comment.
Completely virtual worlds are reportedly “off-limits” to Apple, according to a Bloomberg report from earlier this year that said the company likely wouldn’t use the term “metaverse” when announcing its forthcoming AR/VR headset. We don’t know much about the highly anticipated product, but going off recent reports, it will have two 8K displays, more than a dozen cameras for hand-tracking, and could cost upwards of $3,000. On the platform side, software developers have unearthed references to “realityOS” in App Store upload logs and GitHub repositories used by Apple.
For its part, Meta has teased a Project Cambria VR headset, a high-end virtual and augmented reality headset. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the headset, which is expected to launch later this year, is “completely new” and will sit at the “high end of the price spectrum.”