Meta’s New Horizon: Opportunity or Dead End?

Recently, Meta has decided to open its operating system to third-party manufacturers such as ASUS ROG and Lenovo. The new Meta Horizon OS will be licensed to these manufacturers, enabling their headsets to employ an operating system as proficient as the one used in the Meta Quest series.

However, much like Android’s relationship with iOS in the smartphone market, the decision to open up an operating system carries both benefits and drawbacks. Citing sources from MIXED and Road to VR, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey and former CTO John Carmack have expressed diverging views on the matter.

Palmer Luckey informed Road to VR that opening the platform to third-party headset manufacturers was a clear plan over a decade ago, but this process was disrupted following Facebook’s (now Meta) acquisition of Oculus. He expressed satisfaction with Meta’s recent announcement: “I always strongly believed that Oculus should endeavor to build a technology platform that powered/supported every headset, even competitors like [HTC] Vive. […] this was always the correct strategy. Hopefully it isn’t too late.”

John Carmack, on the other hand, considered the matter from an engineering perspective. He stated on X that since Meta Quest headsets are essentially sold at hardware cost, ignoring developmental expenses, third-party headsets equipped with Meta Horizon OS cannot compete with Quest in terms of cost-effectiveness. They will be more expensive and aim for a premium experience. This could lead Meta to shift its software development focus towards third-party high-end headsets—akin to the dichotomy between standard and enhanced performance versions of gaming consoles. Additionally, communication between Meta and its partners could affect the efficiency of software development and increase budgets.