Meta unveils latest VR headset, as Zuckerberg calls it the ‘first mainstream mixed-reality headset’

Meta Platforms Inc. on Wednesday threw down the immersive gauntlet with what it claims is the first mainstream mixed-reality headset.

The $499 Meta Quest 3 VR headset for immersive gaming, shopping, socializing and news consumption, due, due Oct. 10, puts the company on a collision course with long-time nemesis Apple Inc.
which announced its $3,500 Apple Vision Pro goggles in June for delivery next year.

Meta Quest 3 may well be the company’s last chance to win the VR headset war before it begins.

“We’re just scratching the surface in bringing digital objects to the physical world,” Meta
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a keynote speech at the company’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters Wednesday morning. He elaborated on plenty of AI-related news to super-charge its augmented- and virtual-reality push.

“This is the most-powerful Quest we have ever made,” Zuckerberg added, noting the inclusion of Qualcomm Inc.’s
Snapdragon CPU.

The announcement was heavy on partnerships with developers such as Microsoft Corp.
to bring the headset to Xbox cloud gaming and Microsoft 365. Meta also announced $299 Ray-Ban X Meta smart glasses due Oct. 17 that include AI for the first time, and AI Studio.

Meta’s aggressive pricing and marketing of Quest 3 vs. Vision Pro offers the latest clash between fierce rivals whose approaches reflect the personalities of their CEOs: The always-tinkering Zuckerberg and his Ahab-like obsession with “breaking” and reworking products vs. the metronomic Apple CEO Tim Cook, an operations expert who leans on efficiency and is steady with nominal changes to product lines.

The rub for Meta is building a roster of developers when Apple is the best in the business, and in convincing consumers that the Meta experience is a safe one for privacy and data security. Apple has used that argument to undercut Meta for years. And Apple is an expert at jumping into a market and owning it, as it did with smartphones and tablets.

Zuckerberg stressed that Meta’s integrity team is up for the challenge of establishing guardrails for risks associated with generative AI. Such fears have prompted President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., among others to call for some form of AI regulation and/or oversight.

Meta is making a major transition to AI and the metaverse to more fully engage members who in general seem to be drifting away from social media in general, based on market research trends of time spent on Facebook, Twitter/X, Threads, and other services, based on market research data.

Meta’s stock is down 2.8% in early-afternoon trading Wednesday.

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