Meta deal with Qualcomm: Unrealized VR motives

Meta & Qualcomm have inscribed a multi-year contract to team up on custom interpretations of Snapdragon XR chips of Qualcomm for the “future roadmap of Quest products” and “other devices,” as Zuckerberg put it.

While, in some modes, the move is firm as usual — the Quest 2 is powered by the Snapdragon XR2 chipset — it could deliver insight into Meta’s compromises as it faces reductions in revenue and tries to keep the spiraling costs of Mark’s metaverse project in assessment.

The Qualcomm deal shows that Meta’s upcoming headsets, which reportedly have a high-end headset codenamed Cambria and, later, new renditions of its cheaper Quest headset, won’t run on fully customized Meta-designed silicon.

Despite competing companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Google making product conclusions around custom chip layouts like Graviton3, M2, and Tensor — the reality is that Meta’s had a team dedicated to doing the same since 2018. The press release says the chips will be “customized” for Meta’s needs. Still, we don’t know how much space can place between its “premium” devices and other works’ hardware that hews closely to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR reference structures.

In April, The Verge reported that Meta employees were working with semiconductor fabs — the companies that produce the physical chips — to make custom chips for its as-of-yet unannounced AR headset. That same month, The Information reported that some of Meta’s efforts to create custom chips were hitting roadblocks, pushing it to use a Qualcomm chip for its second-gen Ray-Bay smart glasses instead of its silicon.

Tyler Yee, a Meta spokesperson, said that the company doesn’t discuss details about how its roadmap has evolved and wouldn’t comment on any specific plans it may have had for custom chips for Quest products. However, Yee did share a statement on the company’s “general approach to custom silicon,” saying that Meta doesn’t believe in a “one-size-fits-all approach” for the tech powering its future devices.

“There could be situations where we use off-the-shelf silicon or work with industry partners on customizations while exploring our novel silicon solutions. There could also be scenarios where we use partner and custom solutions in the same product,” he said. “It is all about doing what is needed to create the best metaverse experiences possible.”

Other signs show that Meta has scaled back its VR / AR ambitions. The company currently uses Android to power the Quest, but it was reportedly working on its operating system for its VR and AR devices. According to a report from The Information, it suspended work on a specific project called XROS. However, the company responded to that article by saying that it was “still working on a highly specialized OS for our devices.” Still, the “microkernel-based operating system” that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said was in the works in 2021 hasn’t appeared yet.

The backdrop to all this is a company facing a lot of pressure. Meta’s revenue has dipped for the first time (thanks in part to Apple’s changes to how apps are allowed to track users), and Zuckerberg explicitly stated plans to turn up the heat on employees while admitting, “I think some of you might say that this place isn’t for you. And that self-selection is okay with me.” At the same time, he’s making a massive bet on the metaverse — the company is spending, and losing, billions of dollars per year on the project, which includes AR and VR headsets.

It’s a high-stakes game that Meta would presumably want to play as close to the chest as possible. But for now, it seems the hardware customers access Zuckerberg’s Metaverse with (if they’re going to do that at all, instead of just playing Beat Saber) will remain powered by somebody else’s chips.

Qualcomm, an American global corporation headquartered in San Diego, California, was incorporated in Delaware. It builds software, semiconductors, and services related to wireless technology. It holds patents critical to the CDMA2000, TD-SCDMA, 5G, 4G, and WCDMA mobile communications standards.

Qualcomm was launched in 1985 by Irwin M. Jacobs and six additional co-founders. Its early CDMA wireless cell phone technology research was funded by marketing a two-way mobile digital satellite communications system, {Omnitracs. After a fierce argument in the wireless industry, the 2G standard was embraced with Qualcomm’s CDMA patents. Afterward, there were legal debates about pricing for licensing patents required by the standard.

Over the years, Qualcomm has expanded into marketing semiconductor products in a primarily fabless manufacturing model. It also designed semiconductor components or software for laptops, wi-fi, vehicles, watches, smartphones, and other devices.

Qualcomm was formed in July 1985 by seven former Linkabit employees directed by Irwin Jacobs. The company was anointed by Qualcomm for “QUALity COMMunications. “It was initiated as contract research and development center for government and defense projects.

Qualcomm linked with Omninet in 1988 and raised $3.5 million in funding to assemble the Omnitracs satellite communications system for trucking companies. Qualcomm increased from eight employees in 1986 to 620 employees in 1991 due to demand for Omnitracs. By 1989, Qualcomm had $32 million in earnings, 50 percent from an Omnitracs contract with Schneider National. Omnitracs profits allowed fund Qualcomm’s research and growth into code-division multiple access (CDMA) technologies for cell phone grids.

Meta Platforms, Inc., doing trade as Meta and formerly called Facebook, Inc. and TheFacebook, Inc., is an American multinational technology coalition based in Menlo Park, California. The company holds Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, with other products and services.

Meta is one of the globally most valuable businesses. It is believed to be one of the Big Five American information technology institutions, alongside Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. Meta products and services include Facebook Watch, Facebook, Messenger, and Facebook Portal. It has also formulated Oculus, Giphy, Mapillary, Kustomer, and Presize and holds a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms. In 2021, the company developed 97.5% of its revenue from marketing advertisement placements to marketers.

In October 2021, the parent organization of Facebook changed its name from Facebook, Inc. to Meta to “reflect its emphasis on constructing the metaverse.” The “metaverse” refers to the integrated environment that links all of the company’s products and services.

Meta has frozen the development of its Novi digital wallet project, and sources close to the matter have told “Globes.” The project was initially planned for trading – a discontinued activity. Following this latest step, Facebook will disband various teams in the US. At the company’s development camp in Israel, new tasks are being pursued in the risk management technology division, which was put up to deliver services for the digital wallet.

This latest step arrives as Meta has started 2022 by cleaning its desk. In addition, last week, “Globes” registered the closure of its Israel-led Express-Wi-Fi project for Wi-Fi networks in developing nations.

While discontinuing the Novi digital wallet project, Meta is exploring the possibility of transferring more financial assistance to Facebook Pay – another wallet infrastructure the company has already opened. Thus, Novi is leaving as an NFT trading platform for creating digital art or animated game accessories.

Because Novi’s activities are at the cost of the Facebook Pay infrastructure, which is already utilized on platforms like Facebook Stores and Facebook Marketplace, the company is grappling with the question of if there is any point in persisting Novi’s development. However, despite the freezing of most of Novi’s financial development activities, the project’s pilot in the US and Guatemala, which began last October, will continue.