• December 5, 2022

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While the concept of the Metaverse is still evolving, it is becoming clear that four significant players want to provide the operating system for the many VR-XR and AR headsets that will be introduced over the next few years.

Apple, Microsoft, Google and Meta are starting to wage what could be a monumental battle to provide the dominant OS of what many call the future of the internet.

Indeed, as I stated in my column last week,”Why Visual Computing is the Future of Personal Computing”, the internet or Web 3.0 will deliver more of a 3D, immersive experience where some headsets will become a significant way to interact in this brave new world of visual computing.

Two of them, Apple and Meta, are approaching this battle from a more inclusive approach and want to build their Metaverse vision around their platforms and headsets. On the other hand, Microsoft and Google are approaching this OS opportunity by proposing a more open standards approach.

In Microsoft’s case, they want to deliver a Windows OS for the Metaverse that ultimately ties to their Azure backend services. As for Google, they want to create an Android OS for the Metaverse that is ultimately tied to their Google backend services. These are to be open platforms along the way they make Windows or Android an OS for many computing devices now.

While creating its own AR OS around iOS but in a closed environment, Apple also has the ultimate goal of owning the back end that will power their MR-AR solutions and services.

As for Meta, this explains why Microsoft joined Mark Zuckerberg recently at the one-year anniversary of launching Meta’s Metaverse vision. Microsoft wants Azure to be the back end of Meta’s Metaverse program, whatever it turns out to be.

This battle of delivering competitive Metaverse operating systems became clearer this week during Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Summit, where they introduced their new AR 2 Gen 1 Chip for various VR-XR and AR glasses.

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This chip from Qualcomm, which will be able to support cross-platform and cross-OS headsets, will be the common dominator between all but Apple and Google’s headsets. Apple will use its M series of processors for its AR glasses. At this time, Google is planning on a custom AR chipset for its glasses.

Although Google is said to be working on their own VR-AR processor, given what Qualcomm is delivering in their new high-powered AR 2 Gen 1 processor with companion mobile wireless chipset for Wifi 7, it would not surprise me if Google eventually uses this new AR 2 Gen 1 Snapdragon chip as well.

What is at stake here is quite significant for our industry. Almost all see the future of the internet moving towards a more visual and immersive computing environment.

Web 3.0 will be an essential cross-platform way to handle 2D and some 3D specialized simulations on existing devices. However, many believe that some type of headset will be needed to augment and deliver the true promise of the Metaverse, which is to live, work and play in an actual 3D immersive world or environment.

All of the big players see this trend and want to be the one who delivers the dominant OS for the Metaverse. Unfortunately, Microsoft missed the smartphone trend, and while they created their own HoloLens to deliver their vision, they have recently shifted away from hardware to being an OS provider for the Metaverse with an eye on providing an integrated experience through Azure.

Google wants to replicate its success with Android in smartphones and tablets and desires to extend Android to headsets. Meta has their own OS ambitions as well, but within its closed network. Apple’s approach is an extension of iOS to new hardware, albeit a sophisticated AR headset in the future.

While it may be hard to predict how this battle for Metaverse OS supremacy will shake out, it is clear that Apple has a considerable head start on coming out as the biggest winner.

Apple started working on its AR strategy back in 2017 when it introduced AR Kit. Today Apple has over 14,000 AR apps in its app store.

Regardless of when Apple introduces its MR-AR headset, they are poised to take the lead in this OS battle. But, unfortunately, all others will be followers and may need multiple years to get their AR-MR and even VR apps to any volume to support a competitive effort.

While many people are still trying to figure out what the Metaverse is all about, major industry players, led by Apple, are already taking battle positions to become dominant players in our visual computing future.

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