Facebook is developing an AR and mobile device operating system

Chinese virtual reality is going to fuel trade wars

With more than 2.45 billion monthly active users, Facebook is the world’s most popular social network. However, the Big Tech firm has ambitions to expand its horizons in the 2020s significantly. As previously reported by The Burn-In, the corporation is now interested in breaking into the gaming market.

Last week, The Information revealed Facebook is also devoting its resources to developing an augmented reality (AR) headset and a mobile operating system and chips to power it. In effect, the company is taking a page out of the book of its fellow Silicon Valley giant, Apple.

Facebook’s Operating System

In the early 2010s, Facebook dipped its toe into the mobility sector by a partnership with HTC. Together, the two corporations developed a smartphone that featured integrated social media functionality. However, consumers had no interest in buying Facebook-branded handsets, and the device flopped.

Notably, the corporation setback did not prompt it to discontinue plans to develop its own ecosystem.

The Menlo Park, California-based firm has established a segment dedicated to building a mobile operating system. Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of hardware, explained the company wants to preserve its position as the consumer electronics market evolves.

“We really want to make sure the next generation has space for us,” said the executive. “We don’t think we can trust the marketplace or competitors to ensure that’s the case. And so we’re gonna do it ourselves.”

While the firm wants to ensure that it can thrive in case it’s kicked off Apple and Google’s mobile ecosystems, it also has an eye toward the future. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg believes smart glasses will supplant smartphones as the ubiquitous consumer electronic device. As such, the corporation is developing a mobile operating system in tandem with its next-generation AR hardware.

Facebook’s Hardware Projects

In September, The Burn-In reported Facebook had partnered with Ray-Ban parent company Luxottica to develop a smart glasses product. The Information explained the corporation entered the pact to make something akin to Snapchat’s Spectacles to assess the depth of the wearables market. But the company also has plans to create a more advanced online-enabled headset with AR functionality.

Currently, Facebook’s smartphone killer, codenamed Orion, is scheduled for launch in 2023.

Furthermore, the social media company has recently made moves to bolster its hardware division. Three months ago, the firm acquired mind-reading device startup CTRL-Labs. The corporation reportedly made the purchase to utilize the firm’s hands-free technology in its AR handset.

The corporation is also building a 770,000 square foot campus that will be dedicated to hardware development. Besides, Facebook tried to purchase a fabless semiconductor maker called Cirrus Logic earlier this year. The firm intended to bring the chipmaker under its umbrella to produce components specifically for its hardware à la Apple.

At present, the outcome of Facebook and Cirrus Logic is unknown as neither concern has commented on their negotiations. That said, the social media service won’t have a hard time finding other component makers to acquire. With over $52 billion in cash reserves, the corporation has enough money to buy practically any semiconductor startup or established company it wants.


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