Metavers: the European Union looks into competition issues
A few weeks before the entry into force of the “Digital Markets Act”, the European…
A few weeks before the entry into force of the “Digital Markets Act”, the European regulation which must compel the Gafam to reduce their monopolistic practices , the European anti-trust is already ready to set sail for the metaverse. “It’s already time for us to start thinking about what healthy competition would look like in the metaverse,” European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager told the Keystone conference.
Although adoption of metaverse technologies is still limited , the objective is not to repeat past mistakes. “It’s disappointing to have to say this, but digital marketplaces have failed to deliver on their promise of enabling small businesses to achieve greater scale and reach,” she said. Among the files on the commissioner’s table , there is in particular the showdown with Apple and its application store. The European Commission criticizes the Apple brand for its grip on the Apple Store and the 30% tax levied on all consumer digital transactions, which could change with the entry into force of the Digital Markets Act.
Since the metaverse has positioned itself as an emerging technological field, the European Union has launched several initiatives to not let this market develop too quickly without it. The European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, presented last autumn the launch of an industrial coalition bringing together the AR/VR ecosystem (augmented reality and virtual reality) as well as its desire to see the emergence of an “interdisciplinary creative movement” to develop interoperable standards for the metaverse.
More than 40 European organizations (large companies, SMEs, universities) participate in the project which aims to support the technologies (software, 5G, high performance computing, cloud, semiconductors, photonics, new materials) which will be used to defend the position of Europe in this sector. “Private metaverses must develop on the basis of interoperable standards and no private actor should hold the key to the public square alone or set the terms”, insists the commissioner, who also affirms that “innovators and technologies should be able to prosper unhindered”, and that the EC will not tolerate new private monopolies.
The Meta case
In the sights of European anti-trust, there is in particular Meta, which is investing tens of billions of dollars to ensure its shift towards the metaverse. If the Menlo Park group chain the setbacks and missed the exit of Horizon Worlds Meta has not abandoned its ambitions in the sector.
Since its takeover of Oculus, the group at the head of Instagram and Facebook has been the leading producer of virtual reality headsets on the market and is preparing the release of Meta Quest 3, which must include the famous mixed reality present on the Quest Pro. . After a standoff with the American competition policeman, Meta will also be able to proceed with the acquisition of Within, which publishes Supernatural, a $20-a-month VR fitness app. Enough to feed the risks of a potential dominant position, if a large part of the web economy were to go to the metaverse, as it previously went to social networks.