How Meta Stumbled In Quest for Chip Independence

Meta is steadily giving Qualcomm a bigger role as a chip supplier for its hardware products, after several years of trying to develop its own chips. The shift could hurt Meta’s ability to compete with Apple.

Photos via Getty and Shutterstock. Art by Shane Burke.
Photos via Getty and Shutterstock. Art by Shane Burke.
June 22, 2023 6:00 AM PDT

Meta Platforms executives always knew this moment would come. Apple’s unveiling of its Vision Pro mixed reality headset early this month puts the spotlight on the looming battle between Apple and Meta over control of the augmented reality and virtual reality market. And for the past five years, Meta has readied itself for the competition by trying to develop as many of its own chips as it could, to better differentiate its products from Apple’s.

But Meta has struggled repeatedly with its internal chip development efforts. A partnership with Samsung for development of chips for augmented reality glasses broke down last year, prompting Meta to strike a deal with another chip maker, Mediatek, instead. Meta ended up ordering an off-the-shelf chip from Qualcomm for the second version of Ray-Bans-branded smart glasses that have not yet been released, reversing earlier plans to use its own internal chip. More recently, as Meta has come under cost pressures, it has given Qualcomm a role in supplying chips for future AR projects, according to two people familiar with the situation.

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