What you need to know
- The FTC and several states are investigating possible non-competitive business practices at Meta's Oculus division.
- The probe looks to be investigating the low price of the Oculus Quest 2, in addition to claims by several software developers that Meta stole ideas without properly compensating them.
- This probe comes as two other major FTC investigations have been opened into Meta's business practices.
Meta looks to be having a bad week as Bloomberg reports that the FTC has opened yet another probe into what it calls anti-competitive business practices. Earlier this week, the FTC opened a probe regarding anti-competitive practices for its Instagram and Whatsapp acquisitions, but this time the new probe focuses on the company's Oculus business division.
The FTC and a group of states, led by New York, are questioning VR developers who have created Oculus apps for the Quest platform, which includes the Oculus Quest and Quest 2. The probe is specifically looking into how Meta may have used its influence and power in the market to stifle competition, both on the hardware and software side.
The probe seems to be looking at two components. The first is the price of the Quest 2, which is significantly less than the competition at $299. The second are claims from several developers who say they have been Sherlocked — a term that stems from Apple's theft of an app's ideas in the late 90s, in which Apple never compensated Karelia Software for its idea — saying that Meta illegally worked software concepts and designs into its Oculus operating system.
Specifically, Bloomberg's report highlights two documented cases that Android Central has covered in the past. The first is the similarity between YUR Fit — a fitness app developed to track calories burned while playing VR games — and Oculus Move, Meta's own version of the concept.
The second is Oculus Air Link which provides a way for Quest gamers to wirelessly play PC VR games through their home's Wi-Fi connection. That capability was launched many months after Meta blocked Virtual Desktop from the app store for nebulous reasons.
It's unclear what the aim of this FTC probe is, but it builds upon several other probes into Meta's business practices, including the acquisition of fitness app Supernatural in December 2021. We've reached out to Meta for comment but didn't receive a response in time for publishing.