Meta And Qualcomm Sign A New, Deepened Multi-Generational VR Agreement

By Patrick Moorhead - September 20, 2022

At IFA 2022 in Berlin, Germany, Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Meta's Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke together during Qualcomm's IFA 2022 press conference to announce the deepening of the relationship between the two companies. Qualcomm has a history of making XR-related announcements, as I covered back at IFA 2016. Qualcomm's XR platform is already quite prevalent within the industry and is the default choice for XR chipset for most vendors. Meta is no different here, adopting Qualcomm Snapdragon across many XR categories. Still, to understand why this relationship is different from just any type, you must look a little deeper into the history between the two companies and the relationship they have had together.

For anyone tracking the XR space as long as I have, you'd know that Meta's relationship with Qualcomm may be one of the longest-standing relationships in the industry, spanning the last seven years. While Meta's first XR product, the Oculus Rift, was a PC-based solution, Qualcomm was the first silicon partner inside Meta's first standalone VR headset, the Oculus Go. The Oculus Go was Meta's first attempt at controlling the entire user experience and utilized a mobile processor, the Snapdragon 821, for its seated VR experience. Graduating from that, Meta also adopted the Snapdragon 835 inside the first Oculus Quest, bringing a higher fidelity experience and room-scale VR. Meta has wound many lessons it learned from the Oculus Quest into the Quest 2 that Meta has today, which has shipped in the millions and sports Qualcomm's Snapdragon XR2 platform. Meta's partnership with Qualcomm goes deeper than VR, too, as Meta's wearable product co-developed with Luxottica Ray Ban Stories also features a Snapdragon platform.

Today's announcement with Cristiano and Mark marks a multi-year broad strategic agreement to develop premium experiences that leverage custom Snapdragon XR platforms for the Meta Quest platform. This translates to Meta going in deeper with Qualcomm on the hardware side, getting custom platform that meets its needs, like the XR announcements we've heard from Microsoft and ByteDance with Qualcomm earlier this year. Both companies also stated that their respective engineering and product teams will deepen their technical collaboration, even deeper than they already are, to continue accelerating their push into the metaverse. The critical thing here is to remember that the companies are already deeply partnered together and that this relationship is only getting stronger, which means that we can expect to see Snapdragon XR platforms in Meta Quest products even further into the future.

While neither company has given any details of exactly what kind of Snapdragon XR platforms this partnership will produce or what tier of Meta's Quest devices will utilize them, one would expect that the upcoming Meta' Cambria' headset will already leverage a Qualcomm XR platform, whether it is an XR2 or something else. The term custom also has many varying degrees of interpretation because we have seen other silicon partners make small power and frequency tweaks of Qualcomm's platforms in other form factors; however, I suspect Meta's involvement could run deeper. Qualcomm's Nuvia CPU designs coming down the pipeline could also influence Meta to want access to more powerful CPUs in XR, much like I suspect it had with Samsung announced during fiscal Q3 earnings.

This partnership is specific to the Meta Quest platform, which is Meta's highest volume and most successful XR platform but does not incorporate AR and repeatedly focuses on VR. Many people expect that with Meta's Cambria coming in October, Meta will expand the Meta Quest line into more price and experiential categories. Long term, it seems that Meta expects the Quest platform to be its mainstream platform for consumers and one of its biggest revenue drivers for XR for the foreseeable future. It will be interesting to see how Meta's relationship with Qualcomm will evolve with these customized VR platforms and what choices it makes.

Qualcomm and Meta's partnership getting deeper at IFA 2022 is a natural progression of the two companies' foray into the XR space and enabling the metaverse. Both companies have invested considerably in hardware and software development to get the industry where it is today. It is a positive development for the industry to see that partnership will continue into the foreseeable future. With other players entering the XR space soon, strong partnerships like Qualcomm's and Meta's will be crucial to enable accelerated growth empowered by innovative experiences using the fastest silicon platforms available.

Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.

Patrick Moorhead
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.