A report from The Information last week alleged Meta and Google held talks in effort to bring Android XR to Quest. Meta CTO Andrew ‘Boz’ Bosworth has now confirmed this report, stating further that not only were Google’s terms too restrictive, but Google is actively planning to fragment the ecosystem with its Android-based XR operating system.

Here’s the full statement from Bosworth via a Threads post from last Friday:

After years of not focusing on VR or doing anything to support our work in the space, Google has been pitching AndroidXR to partners and suggesting, incredibly, that WE are the ones threatening to fragment the ecosystem when they are the ones who plan to do exactly that.

We would love to partner with them. They could bring their apps to Quest today! They could bring the Play store (with its current economics for 2d apps) and add value to all their developers immediately, which is exactly the kind of open app ecosystem we want to see. We would be thrilled to have them. It would be a win for their developers and all consumers and we’ll keep pushing for it.

Instead, they want us to agree to restrictive terms that require us to give up our freedom to innovate and build better experiences for people and developers—we’ve seen this play out before and we think we can do better this time around.

Shortly afterwards, Bosworth re-posted on X (formerly Twitter) a comment made by UploadVR’s David Heaney which seems to sum up Meta’s thought process:

“Meta and Google both launched standalone VR platforms in 2018. Google abandoned Daydream after less than 2 years, while Meta grew Oculus (now Quest) to tens of millions scale,” explains Heaney. “Now years later, after the market is already proven, Google wants Meta to kowtow to its attempt #2?”

Quest 3 (left) and Apple Vision Pro (right) | Based on images courtesy Meta, Apple

Still, having Android XR on Quest would instantly make Meta’s hardware more competitive with Apple Vision Pro, which boasts 1.5 million apps built for iPhone in addition to 1,000+ visionOS native apps. The price of admission may simply be too high though.

While Bosworth says bringing Google Play with “its current economics for 2d apps” isn’t a sticking point, Meta’s rejection may very likely involve how software revenue would be split in the long-term. Bringing Google Play to Quest in its entirety isn’t such an issue sow since there are only just a few older VR apps built for Cardboard, although that’s probably about to change as companies like Samsung release their own Vision Pro competitors using Android XR as their chosen operating system.

Vision Pro Has Apps and Quest Has Games, What Can Samsung Bring to XR to Compete?

On Quest, this may eventually allow Play store apps to out-compete some of the content created specifically for the standalone XR headset, which would give Google a slice of the pie that (at least in Meta’s eyes) it didn’t rightfully earn. And controlling that revenue stream is likely be one of Meta’s most important XR ambitions moving forward, provided it wants to continue subsidizing Quest hardware and recouping on software sales like it does today.

Meta’s only real hope is to make the Quest platform so big and attractive to developers in the future that it becomes a target platform alongside Android and iOS—not just to XR developers making games and immersive apps, but to every app from your humble calculator, to everyday things like banking apps, productivity software, video chatting apps—all of the things it needs to break out of console territory to become a general computing platform.

Newsletter graphic

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. More information.

Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • impurekind

    Yeah, out of the two, I’d trust Meta to do it right more than Google at this point for sure. Google has flopped multiple XR projets, whereas Meta has basically done more than any company to bring VR to where it is today. I mean, it’s not perfect by any means, but so far it’s actually making VR work and stick rather than fail and flop.

    • Michael Oglesby

      Yeah, I don’t trust Meta, but I trust Google less. They abandon stuff way too quickly. They don’t have the perseverance / stones to see VR to it’s future.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      The problem with this perspective is that Meta plays “pay to win”. Without doubt they did a lot for VR, and provide excellent hardware at incredible prices. But they do that by using billions in ad revenue from Facebook and Instagram, and actively pushed everybody else out of the consumer VR market, whether intentional or as a side effect.

      So one of the reasons why Meta has done more than any other company to bring VR to where it is today, is that they made it impossible for companies without billions to burn to engage on the same playing field. If you are the only remaining player, you’ll score all the goals by default. Whether this lack of competition is good for VR in the long run remains to be seen. Zuckerberg couldn’t get shareholders to accept the very expensive MRL if there wasn’t the promise of making back all that money and more, by making/keeping Meta the/a dominant player in XR.

      • Dragon Marble

        So you think if Meta had never entered VR, Google wouldn’t have abandoned it, Microsoft would’ve jumped in, and Sony would’ve been more wholehearted?

        Don’t blame Meta for others’ lack of interest. VR is hard. Meta’s approach is necessary. It would take billions of dollars with or without Meta in the field.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          Maybe. Early consumer VR had Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PSVR, several WMR HMDs, and Razer’s OSVR project to make PC VR gaming a thriving ecosystem with lots of players independent of large companies, shipping their “OSVR Hacker Developer Kit” in late 2015 as a platform to encourage experimentation.

          The Rift initially sold worse than PSVR and Vive at USD 699 with a single sensor for seated VR, and without Touch controllers. They quickly switched to “buying” market share by dropping to USD 499 for Rift/Touch/two cameras, and exclusive games to pull users away from Steam, then focused on mobile at very cheap prices to target the masses.

          We possibly wouldn’t have a Quest 3 for USD 499 without Meta. But with more players, we’d have had eye tracking on PCVR long ago. And it wouldn’t have taken until 2024 for AVP to light a fire under Meta’s butt with a UX that doesn’t drive away anybody not a VR enthusiast. Quest UI not improving much beyond Rift/Go was a result of lacking competition to drive innovation. And yes, Google would probably have stayed in mobile VR with better Android integration. Today’s phone hardware plus ten years of development since Cardboard could provide decent 6DoF VR with hand tracking on cheap viewers or external displays for 1bn Android smartphones sold each year, with a much larger user base, enough for even AAA.

          • Dragon Marble

            Like I said in another post, the VR market is not a zero-sum game. To the extend you “buy market share” through low prices, you are not necessarily taking it from anyone else. More likely you are just growing the market as a whole, which benefits others in the industry as well.

            Just because Meta takes one approach, it doesn’t mean the door is closed for the others. From large to small, we have Apple, Sony, and Pimax each taking a unique path different from Meta’s.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            If you are selling a complex product with huge development cost at hardware production cost to ensure that you sell the most, you most definitely take that share from others that actually need to make money to survive. Those now no longer can, and instead have to move to higher margin, much lower unit number niches that don’t allow for economies of scale.

            There is a reason why price dumping is illegal. Meta’s selling hardware at cost and eating development/research is basically a legal loophole.

          • Dragon Marble

            Well, pricing dumping is actually an example that proves exactly point I am trying to make: it obviously does not apply here. We are not importing cheap products from abroad. More importantly, Meta is building something new. Antitrust regulators won’t intervene when the survival of a new industry is not yet guaranteed — for good reasons.

            In order for you to take something from someone else, that thing has to exist first.

          • ViRGiN

            Pimax appears to be nothing more than a chinese government driven attempt at working on that “VR thingy”, with nothing but mediocre results consistently, they haven’t done anything other than working their way up from open sourced DK1 and just putting bigger and ‘high res’ components into an even bigger shell.

      • Blaexe

        Modern XR and especially future XR wouldn’t be possible without billions to burn anyway though. Apple did the same. It’s research often on the lowest level. It wouldn’t happen “just like that” – if it wouldn’t be for Meta or Apple then someone else would have to pour billions in.

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          Modern XR wouldn’t be possible without Palmer Luckey hanging out on MTBS forums, disassembling broken commercial HMDs and hacking together a DK1 prototype based on a cheap LCD, an IMU and cheap lenses from off-the-shelf magnifying glasses. Of course VR is only feasible due to GPUs now being able to compensate for lens distortion, and billions of smartphones having driven display technology and prices, but the calculation “progress requires billions” is way oversimplified.

          Pico collected a total of about USD 75mn in several financing rounds before being bought by ByteDance, and the not only operated on that for years, but released several 3DoF and 6DoF HMDs, incl. the XR2 Pico Neo 3 Link with integrated DP port. USD 75mn is what running MRL for 2.75 days costs. We don’t know what would have happened if instead of one (now two) trillion dollar companies trying to own the market, we would have had a dozen smaller companies competing with each other, and having to rely on innovation and efficient project management instead of just throwing money at it to stay in the game.

          • Blaexe

            > Modern XR wouldn’t be possible without Palmer Luckey hanging out on MTBS forums, disassembling broken commercial HMDs and hacking together a DK1 prototype based on a cheap LCD, an IMU and cheap lenses from off-the-shelf magnifying glasses.

            Yes – and only becaue he could piggyback on mobile tech. This is not true for the tech we use today and especially not true for all the future stuff we need.

            That answer is so besides the point I was making that I don’t even know how to respond.

            The Pico headsets were also lagging behind. But it was “relatively” easy to copy a standalone headset back then compared to what is needed going forward.

            Your thinking is really naive, sorry.

          • Dragon Marble

            Great example — again working against your own arguments! It shows that it’s easy to make prototypes that wow people, but much harder to build financially successful products.

            Where is Oculus Rift now? Where is HTC Vive now? They died before Quest came out and saved VR. And Pico — which tried to copy everything from Quest’s design and pricing — isn’t exactly a success story either, is it? ByteDance ran as soon as it realized that it did take billions to build a new platform.

    • foamreality

      Google hasn’t even finished Android TV properly! Its so bad.

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    This is about money and control, with Meta, Google and Apple fighting for future revenue in the trillions. So it’s strange to paint Meta as an underdog. Their HMDs use a free OS developed by Google, and Meta directly impacted Google’s Daydream not working out. Like with Android, Google provided Daydream software/tools and sold apps, while others sold the hardware. Which works on phones sold with profit, but couldn’t work in VR, where Meta removed all profit opportunities by not even trying to break even with HMDs, eating billions in development/research cost.

    Meta considered letting others build Quest compatible HMDs, but with a subsidized Quest, nobody could make profit from hardware, so Meta would have to share software revenue. Carmack at OC’21:

    Like Mark said, we sell our headsets, you know, at a loss or break even, there is no profit in the headsets, so there is no way that a company could go and say “I want to make a budget headset, I’m going to undercut the prices here.” without wanting to be able to negotiate for a cut of the ecosystem revenue. That’s just kind of the way those things work.

    AndroidXR should extend ARCore, with about 100x as many ARCore devices sold since 2018 as Quest, so the whole “Google left VR/XR and now wants Meta’s cake back” is nonsense. I don’t like that it’s a closed extension like GoogleTV, instead of part of the open Android, so let’s hope that OpenXR remains the common base for Quest, AndroidXR and others (from China, where Google/AndroidXR won’t run) for more competition.

    • Dragon Marble

      Having a long term strategy and not focusing on short term profits is exactly where Zuckerberg stands out and everybody else has failed. VR hasn’t gone mainstream even with Meta’s huge investments. An alternate world in which VR is both growing and profitable is delusional.

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        Meta’s VR strategy was the same as with Facebook: grow as fast as possible to collect as many users as possible, so the network effect will draw new users wanting to join their friends, and stop existing users from leaving. They bought Instagram for USD 1bn and WhatsApp for USD 19bn for exactly that reason, dropping their own competing products. They have a history of buying the most successful player, did it again with Beat Saber and Supernatural, the latter already got them in trouble. They moved XR users to Meta accounts due to a thread of the company being split into parts for this “we use our money to buy success” policy.

        And their VR strategy pretty much failed. They never managed to grow the active user base to even the 10mn Zuckerberg declared the self-sustaining minimum. They utterly failed to establish social VR with several bad VR spaces they then dropped instead of improving them. They never managed to extend VR beyond games. And while their hardware is excellent, their software isn’t, pointing to a very inconsistent strategy and lack of focus on UX at MRL, where again money buys tons of projects, hoping some will stick, instead of coming up with a proper vision.

        • Dragon Marble

          And their VR strategy pretty much failed. They never managed to grow the active user base to even the 10mn Zuckerberg declared the self-sustaining minimum.

          This may not age well.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            They bought Oculus 10 years ago and haven’t reached 10mn active users yet. That isn’t going to change/age, even if they release a USD 200 Quest 3 lite in a few months and all of a sudden the active user count jumps to 100mn.

            It took Facebook 28 months to reach 10mn users, WhatsApp 20 months, Instagram 12 months. TikTok reached 100mn users after 9 month. Meta’s Twitter/X competitor Threads reached 10mn users within seven hours after launch. Meta’s initial “grow fast at any price” VR strategy most certainly has failed.

            I’m not claiming that VR could reach the same numbers, but I am sure that Meta expected the numbers to be at least a magnitude larger when they bought Oculus.

          • Dragon Marble

            Did Zuckerberg set a date for success? No he didn’t. If anything, he repeatedly reminded us that it would be a long haul. We like to make a lot of unfair assumptions about that guy.

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Sure, you can redefine success as anything you like. But if you look at other Meta products, you get an idea of what their expectations are. The “grow quick” strategy wasn’t actually bad, and it was their best bet against Apple and Google: grow so fast that you already have a large user base engaging on you platform, so when the current platform giants finally show up, it will be too late to leverage their existing user/app base, as everybody will be drawn to yours due to network effects.

            This was absolutely essential to compensate other weaknesses. They had ten years, and this is an article about failed negotiations to get access to 2D Android apps and future Android XR development. If they had 100mn users, maybe they’d have some leverage, but 10mn is nothing compared to 2.5bn monthly Play store users. That’s completely unrelated to Zuckerberg, his vision/plans/statements/motivations, and network effects work everywhere where people communicate.

          • Dragon Marble

            Meta doesn’t need Google. I actually think Meta already has a pretty good head start, and, on the other hand, the millions of existing iPad apps adds virtually nothing to Vision Pro (speaking through personal experience).

            I think the digital world needs to be completely rebuild for 3D, and most of the existing stuff needs to be throw away.

            Instead of spreadsheets floating in 3D space, for example, we need datacubes (copy right reserved)! Anyone who’s worked on a complex Excel file in which formulas in one sheet refer to data 10 tabs away knows what I am talking about. The most natural way of visualizing and understanding data is in 3D space. All current tools are rooted in the limitation of 2D monitors. They need to be rebuild from the ground up for the future Cook and Zuckerberg envision.

            XR won’t replace monitors; it’ll make them irrelevant.

          • foamreality

            Spot on. Nobody wants to wear a headset to use excel app thats exactly the same as the one on your laptop but more blurry. Ok a few do, but that isn’t a market thats going to make any VR company a penny. VR apps and games need to be built from the ground up, the rest is just not wanted or needed much.

          • foamreality

            I don’t see the point in an expensive headset that just exactly emulates flat 2d monitors with EXCACTLY the same old apps you use on a flat 2d monitor. Most people are not asking for this. Its a gimmick at best, and not a particualarly exciting one. Anyone remember samsung note phones where you didn’t have to touch the screen to make gestures? It was revolution, like magic, problem was there wasn’t much you could actually do with it that you couldn’t with regular UI. AVP 2d ipadapps are the same thing, a useless UI gimmick that a 4k monitor does better in 90% of cases. Especially for office work.

  • another juan

    Nobody was seriously expecting Meta to accept Google’s ridiculous proposal: their stance about depending on a 3rd party store has been very clear for a decade. Of course, that’s the leverage Apple and Google wil use to continue their duopoly in the next decades.

  • xyzs

    I am not often on Meta’s side, but they’re right here, Google comes late to the party after saying for years XR is dead and doesn’t deserve funding, and now, only because Apple joined the party too, they want all the credits as the main competitor out of thin air. f*off…

    The only advantage AndroidXR would bring is a fully open source OS though.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      – Google never left XR, they pushed AR on phones with ARCore, which will now be extended to become AndroidXR also running on HMDs.

      – Google had lots of non-HMD XR projects like Tango for depth sensors or the whole Expeditions software suite for creating multi-person, multi-perspective free roaming VR experiences based on a limited number of camera positions plus tons of compute requiring to run it in one of their data centers. These are part of ongoing research, preceding AVP by many years and not just a reaction to it.

      – AndroidXR will not be open source, it is a closed extension with separate license agreements, so Meta couldn’t simply adopt AndroidXR compatibility like they did with Android.

      • xyzs

        They kept a few inside projects on, that doesn’t mean they are worth a name in XR nowadays… Every company keeps a bit a RnD on multiple subject just in case.

        If it’s not open source, they can keep their crap then.
        I am over these blob craps systems.

        • foamreality

          Valve should create an open source arm/linux /andorid XR OS (like steamdeck’s x86 aarch OS) that functions like their steamVR app on PC/Meta Streaming. They can let meta use that, with a small cut on store sales, while keeping their cut on on their x86 PCVR/x86 2d games store.

    • foamreality

      If androidXR is open source I don’t see why Meta needs google at all. They can just add their own app store like amazon did wit their fire-sticks and tablets. Talking of amazon, I suspect they will want in on some of this XR headset platform action, and microsoft. I’d like all future headsets o be linux only open source OS like the steamdeck. These companies can fight out the gains with their software/hardware sales in whatever propriatory app store they like

  • Nothing to see here

    Shouldn’t it be Google having to kowtow to Meta given how far behind them they are in the XR marketplace? Google has also been making some epically bad decisions in their AI and search markets lately. If they want to have clout in XR, they should first demonstrate their competence and perhaps release a product or two.

  • foamreality

    Why can’t meta use android apps and just put them in their own store. They don’t need google play, especially since the Epic v Google ruling. Nothing stopping them. Alternatively use an open linux arm distro and customize it, lots and lots of good apps available for linux.

  • Jistuce

    I grant that Android XR, like any non-Quest platform, is “fragmenting the market” in Meta’s eyes. But frankly, I see competition as a good thing.

    I don’t know what terms Google wanted Metabook to adopt if they wanted Android XR compatibility on Quest’s Android build, but I suspect they weren’t really as dramatic as they’re making it sound.

    Hell, Meta’s been known to straight-up lie before, about things that don’t matter and things that are easily proven. So there’s a chance Google was being perfectly reasonable and Meta just went “Nope, screw you, we only did this meeting so we can craptalk you in public later and have credibility.”