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Apple vs. Meta is going to be the tech face-off to watch

David Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Tech reporter Alexandra Sternlicht filling in for David, here.

The Microsoft versus Apple deathmatch was the classic rivalry in the days of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. More recently, Apple and Google were archenemies, duking it out as iPhone vs. Android polarized smartphone users, and we've seen Google and Amazon increasingly encroach on each other's turf. But this week made it clear Apple vs. Meta is going to be one of the key Big Tech battles that define the next phase of computing.

—Meta has been driving the push into virtual reality computing since its acquisition of Oculus in 2014, which has matured into Quest headsets (retailing direct-to-consumers at a $299.99 baseline) and the company’s Horizon Worlds, a gamified reality that has received devastating reviews.

—This week Apple unveiled its Vision Pro headset, which was greeted with awe by many reviewers (even if there are doubts that the $3,500 device will be a hit with mainstream consumers in the near future). Apple even tried to hijack the narrative, by rebranding the headset experience as "spatial computing."

—There's no love lost between these two companies. Recall that Apple kneecapped Meta's advertising business in 2021 when it rolled out new privacy settings that prevented Facebook and Instagram from using the customer targeting techniques that marketers spend the most money on.

—On Thursday, at Meta’s first all-hands meeting since 2020, CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged the ski-goggle-wearing elephant in the room, saying Apple's new headset “could be the vision of the future of computing, but like, it’s not the one that I want,” per the Verge.

—“Every demo that they showed was a person sitting on a couch by themself,” Zuckerberg also reportedly said in his critique of the Vision Pro.

—The major difference between the Vision Pro and Meta’s Quest headsets is that Meta brings users into a cartoonified metaverse (where they historically have lacked limbs) and Apple’s headset integrates tech into users’ space, like Safari tabs lying between tables in this guy’s office.

—Some observers speculate that the Vision Pro's steep price tag may create an opportunity for Meta to claim the low end of the market, with its less expensive Quest headsets. But now that Apple has shown its cards, it's up to Zuck and Co. to respond with a product instead of potshots. Your move, Zuckerberg.

Hot take: As much as we love a spicy rivalry, Apple and Meta kind of need each other. Instagram would be an aesthetic-driven wasteland without iPhone. And iPhone—maybe—would be less addicting without Instagram. Is it possible the companies could maintain (even enrich) this frenemy relationship behind VR goggles? In this virtual reality, people would use the Apple goggles to hang in Meta Horizon Worlds. Maybe.

More news below.

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Alexandra Sternlicht

Data Sheet’s daily news section was written and curated by Andrea Guzman.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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