Today Meta made what is likely to be an industry-altering announcement: it plans to open up the Quest operating system to third-party device makers. Asus, Lenovo, and Xbox have been tapped to create new headsets built on the operating system which is being branded ‘Meta Horizon OS’.

Meta has just made its biggest strategic move in the XR space since betting the farm on standalone headsets over PC VR. Today the company says it’s formally branding the Quest operating system as Meta Horizon OS, and with it, plans to allow third-parties to make new headsets that run the software stack.

The company has already confirmed that Asus and Lenovo are building new headsets for Meta Horizon OS. Meta also says it’s collaborating with Microsoft on a “limited-edition Quest” that’s “inspired by Xbox,” surely leaning into the partnership which brought the Xbox Cloud Gaming app to Meta’s existing headsets.

Sharing a common operating system means all of these headsets will be able to draw not only on the XR tech that Meta has built (like tracking, interface, playspace boundary, and more) but also plug into the company’s leading library of standalone VR content. Meta says it’s rebranding its content library to the ‘Meta Horizon Store’.

Meta also says all headsets running Meta Horizon OS will share the same social layer, allowing users to use their existing accounts, avatars, and friends list no matter which of these headsets they choose.

It’s unclear at this time if Meta Horizon OS will be openly available to any company that wants to use it, or if Meta will only grant access to select companies.

This strategic move by Meta is no doubt an emulation of the Android model, in which Google offered up its Android operating system for smartphone makers to use with their own hardware. Doing so created a huge variety of smartphones all sharing a compatible software ecosystem which made the collective pool an attractive marketplace for developers—and heaps of cash and market power for Google.

Google and Samsung have been cooking up some kind of headset of their own, and surely have the same play in mind, but in a sense, Meta is beating them to the punch here—with the added irony that Meta Horizon OS itself is based on Android.

With the release of Apple Vision Pro, and now Meta offering up its operating system to third-parties, the comparison to the early smartphone wars of Android vs. iPhone cannot be avoided. Ultimately the fierce competition of that era resulted in a rapid innovation of mobile hardware and software, leading to smartphones being a daily part of nearly every person’s life. Will the same thing happen with XR headsets?

The post Meta is Opening Quest’s Operating System to Third-party Headsets, Marking a Massive Shift in Strategy appeared first on Road to VR.