Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg justified his acquisition of a virtual reality fitness app in an antitrust court, arguing that his company was helping to build a nascent virtual reality industry. The Federal Trade Commission has accused Meta of trying to buy its way to the top of the VR industry.
However, Zuckerberg testified that owning app maker Within Unlimited was not that critical to Meta’s ambitions, and he primarily aimed to build communications tools and a platform for apps from different developers.
He said, “it’s less important that we own the experiences than that they exist.” He added that he was keen to see other firms build key productivity and gaming apps to draw a mass audience to virtual and augmented reality.
The FTC sued the Facebook and Instagram owner in July to stop the Within deal and asked the judge to order a preliminary injunction. FTC lawyers attempted to show that Meta had planned to compete with apps like Within, arguing that executives identified fitness as a way to expand VR use beyond its existing fan base of young male gamers.
The company said that it does not expect to close the Within deal before next year or until the day after the court rules on the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction. The social media company agreed to buy Within in October 2021, a day after changing its name from Facebook to Meta.
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