Days after Apple unveiled its $3,499 mixed reality headset, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to take a jab at the company’s pricing and vision for the product.
“Our device is also about being active and doing things,” Zuckerberg said at an all-hands meeting with Meta employees on Thursday, referencing its Quest VR headset line. “By contrast, every demo that [Apple] showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself. I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want.”
He added that Meta’s vision for the metaverse, an immersive virtual world, is “fundamentally social.”
The remarks were first reported by The Verge. A spokesperson for Meta later confirmed their accuracy to CNN.
The Apple Vision Pro headset blends both virtual reality and augmented reality, a technology that overlays virtual images on live video of the real world. It represents Apple’s most ambitious and riskiest new hardware offering in years, and also pits the company against Meta, which has invested billions in VR and currently dominates the headset market.
Last week, Zuckerberg tried to preempt the expected Apple headset announcement by teasing the Meta Quest 3. The new headset promises improved performance, new mixed-reality features and a sleeker, more comfortable design, at a more affordable price ($499).
In his remarks to employees, Zuckerberg repeatedly focused on headset pricing.
“We innovate to make sure that our products are as accessible and affordable to everyone as possible, and that is a core part of what we do,” Zuckerberg told his staff. At another point, Zuckerberg said Apple’s decision to invest in a high-res display and other technology under the hood means “it costs seven times more and now requires so much energy that now you need a battery and a wire attached to it to use it.”
The two companies had a tense relationship even before Apple’s entry into the market. They have competed over news and messaging features, and their CEOs have traded jabs over data privacy and app store policies. Last February, Meta said it expected to take a $10 billion hit in 2022 from Apple’s move to limit how apps like Facebook collect data for targeted ads. But the rivalry now appears poised to reach a new level.
In an early demo with the Vision Pro, CNN was impressed with the company’s unique approach to the device, from how it can present a users’ specific eyeglasses prescription so no frames need to be squeezed into the headset to how a custom processor cuts down on the latency, an issue found in similar products that can result in nausea. Its immersive video capabilities were also stunning.
But the headset is clearly a work in progress. The apps and experiences remain limited; users must stay tethered to a battery pack the size of an iPhone with just two hours of battery life; and the first minutes using the device can be off-putting. Apple also plans to charge far more than other headsets on the market that have previously struggled to gain wide adoption.
Some industry watchers expect Apple, with its impressive hardware track record, will ultimately win out in the market. But in his remarks Thursday, Zuckerberg said Apple’s approach “made me even more excited and in a lot of ways optimistic that what we’re doing matters and is going to succeed.”
The headset wasn’t the only topic Zuckerberg addressed during the hands-on meeting. He also discussed the company’s growing focus on building generative AI into “all of our products,” as Meta and other companies race to adapt to the rise of ChatGPT.
“We’re going to play an important and unique role in bringing these capabilities to billions of people, and in the process it’s going to touch every product we make,” Zuckerberg said in a statement shared with CNN.
Meta recently announced it is bringing AI agents with “unique personas and skill sets” to Messenger and WhatsApp, with eventual plans to roll it out to other apps, products and even the metaverse.