US competition watchdogs have given up their opposition to the attempt of the Facebook group Meta to expand its strong position in the virtual reality business through an acquisition. After a defeat in court, they withdrew their objections to the company's takeover behind a VR fitness app, according to a document released over the weekend.
With virtual reality (VR), users can immerse themselves in digital worlds with special glasses. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg bet early on the business with the purchase of VR glasses pioneer Oculus in 2014. The group is now a leading player in the market with eyewear and a platform for VR content. Zuckerberg also announced the goal of establishing virtual worlds - the "Metaverse" - as a computer platform. The change of the company name from Facebook to Meta also has to do with this.
The company Within Unlimited, which wants to buy Meta, is behind a VR fitness app called "Supernatural". The FTC argued that Meta with its "VR empire" wanted to occupy this market through the acquisition, instead of competing for it with its own offer.
Court rejected claim
However, a judge rejected the demand to block the deal with an injunction. Among other things, it has not been proven that Meta entered the market on its own, he explained. The FTC has already waived its right to appeal the decision.
Under President Joe Biden's appointed head Lina Khan, the FTC is taking a harder line against the big tech companies, which had long benefited from rather lax competition supervision in the US. Among other things, she was trying to prevent the takeover of the game company Activision Blizzard by Microsoft with a lawsuit.