The big hot-off-the-presses Apple rumor right now is that the company is not building a metaverse. According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, despite aiming to release a mixed reality headset this year, the Cupertino-based tech giant thinks the idea of craftings its own virtual environment is “off-limits.”
“Here’s one word I’d be shocked to hear on stage when Apple announces its headset: metaverse. I’ve been told pretty directly that the idea of a completely virtual world where users can escape to — as they can in Meta Platforms/Facebook’s vision of the future — is off-limits from Apple,” Gurman’s newsletter said.
I, for one, am relieved because of one more definition of ‘metaverse’ from yet another company. Even if Apple is not building a metaverse, it doesn’t matter, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
First, there are already many metaverses out there, and they’d kill to be on Apple’s platform. Most app developers want to be on the App Store and get the best traction out of it.
I don’t imagine the scenario will be too different for the metaverse developers: Apple only needs to build compelling hardware to enable people to explore these virtual spaces, not build them.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney had touted the company to be a metaverse leader, and reportedly its fight with Apple was motivated by those ambitions. Before the case began, ‘metaverse’ games like Fortnite ruled the app store. Apple can just provide a base for developers and mint money off in-app purchases.
Second, Apple has mostly provided a platform to developers — apart from cases like Apple Music and Apple Maps — so it doesn’t really need to create its own version of Metaverse. There will be App Store for these environments at some point, so you can download your favorite metaverse. It’s okay if you don’t have a leg-less Apple memoji roaming around for that.
Gurman’s newsletter pointed out that Apple’s first headset will be used for “bursts of gaming, communication, and content consumption.” That doesn’t sound too far off the metaverse other companies have promised. So what if there’s no official Apple branding? The company will still be able to make money.
Lastly, there’s plenty of speculation and reports on how metaverses could be problematic places filled with racism and sexism — and we haven’t even begun yet. A company like Apple, which believes in maintaining a ‘clean’ image, might not want to get involved in the never-ending hassle of content moderation.
Maybe we’ll see iVerse on Apple Glasses sometime in the future, but for now, we don’t need to worry about another metaverse.