Facebook Oculus VR is causing problems for parent company Meta. The company is now under investigation by a number of states, including New York, Tennessee and North Carolina, as well as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission FTC for possible anti-competitive practices, which is also a component part of an antitrust case. Bloomberg reported that the case deals with Oculus VR apps.
There is nothing new to the story about Facebook, or Meta, being under investigation. But other such monopolistic type cases brought against Meta around the world had to do with its other products like WhatsApp and Instagram and not Facebook’s Oculus VR.
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Just last week, a federal judge in Washington D.C. ruled that another lawsuit brought against Meta/Facebook by the FTC could move forward after Meta tried to have the suit thrown out of court. That suit seeks to force the company to sell both Instagram and WhatsApp. Basically the FTC, which filed the suit in December, alleges that Facebook is illegally maintaining its personal social networking monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.
As for the FTC case over Oculus VR, it is alleging that Facebook works deliberately to stifle competitors from developing apps for the platform. Basically, Facebook is charged with doing something akin to if Apple interfered with other companies’ developing apps for the iPhone or iPad.
Bloomberg also points out that Facebook is also thought to be offering Oculus VR at a price below market value in order to undercut the competition in the virtual reality market. And investigators are said to be interviewing the developers of competing apps for the Oculus VR platform.
Bloomberg cited the case of Yur Inc. which offered its own fitness tracking app for the Oculus VR in 2019. But then Meta reportedly released a software update that prevented the app’s tech from working Cix Liv, the app’s creator, told Bloomberg News that his app was done in when Meta launched Oculus Move, which Liv said has similar functionality to his app.
If you think that a breakup of Meta/Facebook is not possible, that Meta cannot ever be forced to sell off WhatsApp, Instagram or Oculus VR, you are mistaken. Forty years ago the American courts forced the breakup of AT&T which at that point had a monopoly over all telephone companies throughout the U.S.