Mark Zuckerberg defends Meta before antitrust judge on bid for dominance in virtual reality segment

Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday (December 20) defended the company’s acquisition of a virtual reality fitness app before an antitrust judge. Zuckerberg argued that Meta was helping build the virtual reality industry, not dominate it. He testified in federal court in San Jose, California. 

Zuckerberg argued that acquiring app maker Within Unlimited was “not that critical” to Meta’s ambitions. He said that Meta was aiming at building communications tools and an app platform for apps from different developers.

On fitness apps, he said, “It’s less important that we own the experiences than that they exist.” He said he was keen to see other firms build key productivity and gaming apps to draw a mass audience to virtual and augmented reality.

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United States’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accused Meta of trying to buy its way to the top of Virtual Reality industry.

FTC lawyers kicked off the proceedings by asking him about an internal email Zuckerberg wrote in 2015 where he said he expected Meta to build “most of the apps and software services” for the VR industry.

Zuckerberg replied that major platform owners tend to build the most popular apps in their area of expertise, likening Meta’s emphasis on communications to Microsoft Corp’s focus on productivity.

Platform companies have built “the key apps, what they call the killer apps,” Zuckerberg said, “but they’re not the only apps available.”

The FTC sued the Facebook and Instagram owner in July to stop the Within Unlimited deal and asked the judge to order a preliminary injunction, saying Meta’s “campaign to conquer VR” began in 2014 when it acquired Oculus, a VR headset manufacturer.

The trial is only one of many battles Meta is fighting against regulators globally over its alleged dominance in various markets. The European Commission on Monday said it had warned Meta of a possible antitrust breach related to online classified advertising.

The company said earlier on Tuesday that it does not expect to close the Within deal before Jan. 31 or until the day after the court rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction.

(With inputs from agencies)

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