By Katie Paul
(Reuters) – Meta, Microsoft and other tech giants racing to build on the emerging concept of the metaverse have formed a group to promote the development of standards that would make companies’ nascent digital worlds compatible with each other.
Participants at the Metaverse Standards Forum include many of the largest companies working in the field, from chipmakers to video game companies, as well as established standards-setting bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the group said.
However, conspicuously absent from the roster for now is Apple, which analysts expect to become dominant in the metaverse race once it introduces a mixed reality headset this year or next.
Game companies Roblox and Niantic were also not included among the forum participants, nor were emerging cryptocurrency-based metaverse platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland. Apple has yet to publicly acknowledge plans for a headset, although it has given the board of directors a preview of the product, according to Bloomberg. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the creation of the metaverse forum. The introduction of such a device will put Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has staked its future on the growth of the metaverse and has invested heavily in hardware to make its vision of interconnected virtual worlds a reality.
Apple has been heavily involved in creating web standards like HTML5 in the past. For three-dimensional content in the metaverse, Apple worked with Pixar on the “USDZ” file format and with Adobe to ensure format support.
Neil Trevett, an executive at chipmaker Nvidia who chairs the Metaverse Standards Forum, said in a statement to Reuters that any company is welcome to join the group, including participants from the cryptocurrency world.
The forum aims to facilitate communication between a variety of standards organizations and companies to bring “real-world interoperability” into the metaverse, he said, without addressing how Apple’s absence will affect that goal.