Microsoft, Meta and other tech giants create Metaverse Standards Forum without Apple

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Meta, Microsoft and other tech giants struggling to build the nascent Metaverse concept formed a group to promote the development of industry standards that would make the nascent digital worlds of businesses compatible with one another.

Metaverse Standards Forum participants include many of the largest companies operating in this space, from chipmakers to gaming companies, as well as established standards-setting bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group said in a statement to announce its inception on Tuesday.

Conspicuously missing from the membership roster, however, is Apple, which analysts expect will become a dominant player in the Metaverse race once it launches a mixed reality headset this year or next.

Gaming companies Roblox and Niantic were also not among the forum’s participants, nor were emerging crypto-based metaverse platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland.

Apple has yet to publicly confirm plans for a headset, although it has reportedly given its board a preview of the product, according to Bloomberg. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new Metaverse forum.

The introduction of such a device would put Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has staked its future on the growth of the Metaverse and has invested heavily in hardware to make its vision of interconnected virtual worlds a reality.

Meta, known as Facebook until it changed its name as part of its Metaverse pivot last year, has announced plans for a mixed reality headset, codenamed Cambria, to be released this year.

Apple has been heavily involved in the development of web standards like HTML5 in the past. For 3D content in the Metaverse, Apple worked with Pixar on the USDZ file format and with Adobe to ensure format support.

Neil Trevett, an executive at chipmaker Nvidia and chair of the Metaverse Standards Forum, said in a statement to Reuters that any company is welcome to join the group, including participants from the crypto world.

The forum aims to facilitate communication between a variety of standards organizations and companies to achieve “real-world interoperability” in the metaverse, he said, without detailing how Apple’s absence would impact that goal.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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