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Bundeskartellamt examines linkage between Oculus and Facebook network

Christian Fernsby |
The Bundeskartellamt has initiated abuse proceedings against Facebook to examine the linkage between Oculus virtual reality products and the social network and Facebook platform.

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Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account. Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook. With its social network Facebook holds a dominant position in Germany and is also already an important player in the emerging but growing VR (virtual reality) market. We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tying arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity.”

Facebook has begun to integrate its virtual reality activities into the social network Facebook.com.

The Oculus platform, which has previously been operated separately from Facebook.com, will be offered as an additional function on Facebook's social network, under the name “Facebook Reality Labs”. The use of the latest "Quest 2" VR glasses, will require registration using a Facebook.com account. Existing Oculus accounts can no longer be used for registration and the new hardware. Distribution of the new VR glasses outside Germany has already begun.

The aim of virtual reality products is to create a virtual world for the user to experience while using digital content. Three-dimensional vision which allows the human eye to perceive its surroundings in 3D is simulated with special technology. VR glasses are necessary for the use of VR technology.

Further hardware is also required, usually a PC, a gaming console or a smartphone. In some VR glasses, including Facebook’s Oculus “Quest 2” glasses, the necessary hardware is already integrated, allowing them to function as “stand alone” devices.

Finally, VR software, i.e. digital platforms such as (up to now) the Oculus platform which offer VR content, is necessary to access and use VR content. Currently, VR applications are mainly used in the gaming and video sector. However, their use is not limited to these areas. The number of users and turnover with such applications are constantly increasing.

Andreas Mundt: “The fact that Facebook has resorted to various legal remedies is not surprising in view of the significance which our proceedings have for the group’s business model. Nevertheless, the resulting delay in proceedings is of course regrettable for competition and consumers.

"This is the second time that the Higher Regional Court has preliminarily granted an emergency appeal filed by Facebook. The deadline imposed on Facebook for implementing our demands has again been suspended. As in our view the reasons for this are not sustainable, we have immediately filed a complaint with the Federal Court of Justice. We want the clock to be ticking again for Facebook.”


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