The Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Meta in an effort to prevent Facebook’s parent company from buying Inside, which makes the popular virtual reality fitness app. supernatural.
Meta’s $400 million spending plans were reportedly under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission after the proposed acquisition was announced last October. This proposed transaction, according to the lawsuit, “would significantly reduce competition, or tend to create a monopoly, in the relevant market for fitness applications intended for virtual reality and the broader market for fitness applications for virtual reality.”
Are you cornering the VR fitness market?
Meta has been in the VR acquisition phase in the past two years, attracting game developers including Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath), ready at dawn (Echo color), crooked pixels (Wilson’s heart), interactive precipitation (onwards) and BigBox VR (Population: one). But the planned purchase of “within” appears to be ringing antitrust alarm bells at the FTC due to interference with it. Saber won Beat Games, which was acquired by Meta in 2019.
Include FTC Saber won In the category of what it calls “occasional fitness apps,” which are not primarily focused on fitness but “allow users to have exercise as a byproduct of their use because [their] Physically active nature. Thus, Meta is already “preparing at the edge of the VR fitness app market by Saber won application,” the Federal Trade Commission argues.
If Meta is allowed to buy “within,” the FTC argues that the company “no longer has any incentive to develop its own competing app from scratch, [or] Add new features to Saber won Or other existing Meta apps to compete with supernatural On the merits…Allow to get Meta supernatural It will bring together the makers of two of the most important VR fitness apps, thus eliminating the beneficial competition between Meta Saber won app and inside supernatural Application.”
Parts of the FTC’s suit are read as a paid advertisement highlighting the benefits of virtual reality fitness apps over alternative forms of exercise. The suit specifically compares supernatural—which can be played with the $299 Quest headset (currently) and a monthly subscription of $18.99 — to Peloton’s “smart bike” that “costs over $1,000, with an additional subscription cost of $44 per month.. . [and] It also weighs 135 pounds.”
“Virtual reality provides a level of immersion that other home fitness experiences cannot and cannot provide,” the Federal Trade Commission wrote in an official government document. “Virtual reality technology allows users to exercise from the comfort, privacy and security of the home with the feel and visuals elsewhere… [and] Unlike workout content in a flat or 2D home, VR apps can be fully interactive, providing guided movement and real-time haptic feedback in a 3D space.”
Mita’s “ultimate goal”
Regardless of the VR fitness marketplace, the purchase within Meta will “put it one step closer to its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘Metaverse’, according to the suit. Meta, which the lawsuit notes is already a ‘global tech giant’ through billions of users of the Metaverse apps. Social media and messaging, she is now doing a “campaign to beat virtual reality”.
The company’s recent rebranding from Facebook to Meta reflects a company that has “set its sights on building, and ultimately controlling, the VR metaverse,” the FTC wrote (whatever that means). And while Meta already dominates the multi-billion dollar market for VR headsets, the company is now working to become “absolutely ubiquitous in the world.” [VR] killer apps,” said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
in a permitMeta said the FTC’s case is “based on ideology and speculation, not evidence. The idea that this acquisition will lead to non-competitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much entry and growth as online and connected fitness is simply not credible.” Banning the acquisition would send a “chilling message to anyone who wants to innovate in the VR space,” the company said, adding, “We are confident that our acquisition of ‘Within’ will be beneficial to people, developers, and the VR space.”
The Meta lawsuit is the first antitrust action by the Federal Trade Commission to be brought under the leadership of President Lina Khan, who has been vocal in her statements against mergers with big tech companies. The committee’s final vote to authorize the suit was split 3-2.
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