Meta won't play by Google's rules in the headset wars

Meta won't play by Google's rules in the headset wars

Statement by Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth added

Google is said to have offered Meta an XR partnership, which Meta turned down, a new report by The Information claims.


The Information reports on a meeting between Google and Meta that took place in late 2023 regarding a potential XR partnership between the two companies.

Google wanted Meta as a partner for its XR operating system, Android XR, which Google is developing for upcoming XR headsets. In return, Google would give Meta Quest headsets access to key Google apps.

Meta rejected the offer, presumably because licensing Android XR would mean giving up its own Quest operating system and Quest Store. Quest headsets use a fork of Android modified by Meta. The company tried to develop its own XR operating system years ago, but abandoned those efforts in 2021.

According to the report, Meta has been asking Google for some time to give Meta Quest access to the Play Store and Google apps. The headset supports only a few 2D apps and is therefore poorly integrated into the Android ecosystem, while competitor Apple supports most iPhone and iPad apps with Vision Pro. A major competitive advantage for Apple that Google can use as leverage against Meta.

The Information also reports that Google is trying to attract other headset manufacturers to Android XR in addition to Samsung. According to another report, Samsung and Google's mixed reality headset will be released at the end of the year.

Meta, on the other hand, has teamed up with LG and, according to The Information, is negotiating with other hardware partners who could build headsets and license the Quest operating system. Meta has long talked about differentiating itself from Apple by aiming for an "open system" for XR, but this vision has yet to materialize.


Meta's CTO Andrew Bosworth confirmed the report on Threads with the following statement:

After years of not focusing on VR or doing anything to support our work in the space, Google has been pitching AndroidXR to partners and suggesting, incredibly, that WE are the ones threatening to fragment the ecosystem when they are the ones who plan to do exactly that.

We would love to partner with them. They could bring their apps to Quest today! They could bring the Play store (with its current economics for 2d apps) and add value to all their developers immediately, which is exactly the kind of open app ecosystem we want to see. We would be thrilled to have them. It would be a win for their developers and all consumers and we’ll keep pushing for it.


Instead, they want us to agree to restrictive terms that require us to give up our freedom to innovate and build better experiences for people and developers—we’ve seen this play out before and we think we can do better this time around.


It is currently unclear how successful Google's Android XR initiative will be. The company has a reputation for quickly abandoning new projects, and it may be difficult to convince the developer community to invest in Android XR.

Google dabbled in VR many years ago with Cardboard and Daydream, but quickly lost interest in the technology. In 2023, the company canned an AR glasses project, and in early 2024, it laid off hundreds of employees working on AR hardware.

Meta could speculate on the failure of Android XR and hope that Google will eventually be forced to follow Meta's terms instead of the other way around. For this to happen, the Quest operating system would have to establish itself as the main alternative to visionOS.

Ultimately, all three players (Apple, Google, and Meta) are only interested in who controls the future XR platforms and thus makes money from software sales. Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth confirmed via X that Meta would welcome the Play Store and Google apps on Meta Quest, adding that Google could keep the revenue from 2D apps in that case.

But for Google, it is about more than that: it wants to be the Android of the XR, achieving a similar dominance and position in the XR market as it currently has with Android smartphones.

Sources: The Information