Facebook Accused Of Blocking Oculus Developers And Stealing Their Ideas
The Department of Justice is meeting with Oculus developers to determine if Facebook is blocking and copying popular products for their own gain. As such a big player in the space, Facebook has had plenty of complaints levied against it in the past, but this accusation is serious enough that the DOJ is now involved.
When Facebook officially acquired Oculus in 2014, it launched to the forefront of VR hardware technology. Oculus has long been an industry leader in VR software, and with the help of Facebook’s platform and funding, it became a nearly unstoppable force in the field. With this advantage, Oculus has only continued to grow in a quickly budding, developing their own versions of various popular apps, games, and technology. However, even with so much success Facebook has made some changes VR fans haven’t always been happy to see, and now these troubling accusations.
A recent Bloomberg Technology article states that several startup companies in the VR industry are accusing Facebook of blocking their products from users and then proceeding to steal their ideas. These developers have stated that Facebook makes it nearly impossible for users to find their services using the Oculus, and when users do manage to download their apps, games, or software, Facebook will require updates to the Oculus that essentially make these products unusable. On top of this, these developers are also claiming that once their services have been effectively buried by Facebook, the company will then proceed to make their own version of these games and services. With Facebook providing their services at a lower cost to users, startup companies are finding it impossible to compete with the social media giant.
According to Yur Inc. co-founder, Cix Liv, the Oculus is a vital part of getting his technology in front of its intended audience. In 2019, Yur Inc. created software that allows users to track their physical activity within VR, creating a sort of fitness monitor that gathers stats for users. While Liv jumped through numerous hoops to get his technology to meet Facebook’s standards, he still had trouble getting his app into the Oculus store. Later, Facebook released a new update to the Oculus that required the Yur app to be deleted completely in order for the update to be installed. In September 2020, Facebook came out with the Oculus Move, which had the same functionality and, according to Liv, the same look as Yur. Liv saw this as the nail in the coffin for his app.
If these claims are true, and Facebook is cutting down their competition, it could mean an unfair monopoly. Of course, there is also weight to the argument that Facebook is simply utilizing the resources it has paid for in order to grow its own business. Either way, this issue has caught the attention of the House antitrust panel and will be addressed in Congress in the near future.
Source: Bloomberg Technology
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