Although the Meta Quest 2 is arguably an excellent virtual reality (VR) headset, it's not an augmented reality (AR) headset. In other words, it's designed for total immersion, but cannot introduce virtual reality elements into your real world (i.e., AR). The rumored Apple VR headset, on the other hand, purportedly can.
A new leak from The Financial Times insinuates that the long-rumored Apple headset, allegedly called Reality Pro, has rattled Meta, and it's scrambling to secure new features to stay ahead of the competition. That's why it's reportedly in talks with Magic Leap behind the scenes.
Why is Meta in talks with Magic Leap?
Yes, the Meta Quest Pro has AR capabilities, but according to The Verge, they are "limited." Plus, it's heavy and uncomfortable. As such, sources say that Meta is in talks with Magic Leap, one of the top dogs in the AR headset space (alongside Microsoft with its Hololens), to secure a multi-year property licensing deal to help it roll out better AR products and services.
You may be wondering, "Will there be a Magic Leap and Meta headset collaboration in the future?" According to Financial Times, the answer is likely no. Meta just wants to secure rights to its best AR capabilities. Two former Meta employees claimed that the most attractive Magic Leap asset to the Quest 2 maker is something called waveguides, a technology that "allows thin glass in front of the user’s eyes to conjure up realistic images at different depths," the Financial Times report said.
Magic Leap told the Financial Times that developing AR tech is extremely complex. Plus, working with overseas supply chains to make these AR headsets adds another layer of difficulty. As such, companies are eager to enter into non-exclusive manufacturing partnerships and IP licensing deals with Magic Leap to lighten their load.
Meta secured a whopping 80% of the VR headset share last year, according to FT, but its current position might be threatened with the upcoming Apple mixed-reality headset, which is rumored to be announced at WWDC 2023.
As the Apple AR/VR headset jeopardizes Meta's throne, it's a good thing that Meta is swallowing its pride and tapping into an industry-leading AR company to make its next big headset a true Reality Pro competitor.
Meta's metaverse projects haven't been doing so hot, and the last thing it needs is having one of its cash cows, the Quest 2 headset and its potential successors, getting eclipsed by Apple.