The Future of the Metaverse: The Race of VR Technology between Apple, Sony, Meta, and HTC

The term “metaverse” was first mentioned in the 1992 novel “Snow Crash,” but its technological foundation didn’t start to become a reality until recent years. The construction of a metaverse requires not just software but also hardware. Following Meta, the parent company of Facebook, and HTC, who have been working in this area since 2015, Apple has sparked more heated discussions about the metaverse with the announcement of their first head-mounted device this year.

Apple’s announcement of the VisionPro at WWDC has added fresh fuel to the discussion about the metaverse. As HTC and Sony each announced their latest AR/VR devices, rumors were swirling that Apple was going to enter the head-mounted device market. Sure enough, at this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced their first head-mounted device, the Apple VisionPro. This device, which allows interaction with popular iPhone apps without a controller, is scheduled to be released in 2024 and is priced at $3499.

However, the high price of the VisionPro might impact consumers’ willingness to purchase it. Research firm TrendForce points out that despite the hardware specs and functional design reaching top levels, the high price tag of $3499, coupled with the fact that it can only be used for two hours after connecting to an external power source, may hinder consumers’ willingness to buy.

Sony, on the other hand, has launched their own VR headset, PlayStation VR2 (PSVR2), as their metaverse development strategy focuses on gaming and entertainment. Priced at $549, it corrects the player’s movement and direction of gaze through an integrated camera and can be connected to the PS5 with a single cable.

Meanwhile, Meta announced their premium device, the Quest Pro, in October last year, focusing on the design of Mixed Reality (MR). The initial price was $1499, but it has been reduced to $999.99 this year. Meta is targeting the commercial market with a higher spec.

Furthermore, HTC has also been mentioned as a pioneer of the metaverse. The HTC VIVE XR Elite, released in February this year, was highly praised by more than 10 overseas media outlets such as CNN, CNET, Tech Advisor, and Tom’s Guide at the global tech show, CES 2023, and was selected as the “Best of CES 2023.”

However, high prices, lack of VR content, and dizziness from long-term use of VR products are major challenges hindering the popularization of VR products. Market research firm IDC predicts that by 2026, the global shipment of VR headsets will expand to about 31 million units, tripling that of 2021.

All of these will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the future of the metaverse. It remains to be seen which company will forge ahead first and how this new “universe” will be shaped.

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