Following news that the FTC’s antitrust suit against Meta cleared a critical hurdle earlier this week, the agency is apparently also taking a sharp interest in the company’s VR business.
Bloomberg reports that the FTC and multiple state attorneys general are probing Meta’s virtual reality division for “potential anti-competitive practices.” New York reportedly leads the state-level investigation, which has been chatting up outside software developers who make apps for Meta’s VR experience.
The state and federal officials are examining how the company may have engaged in anti-competitive behavior to suppress competition in the VR market. The officials were also interested in how the company subsidizes the price of its Quest 2 VR headset to push it on consumers and box out the competition, according to Bloomberg.
The fact that the FTC is digging around about Meta’s app store, hardware and software practices suggests that the company’s acquisitions aren’t its only angle in what could be a landmark antitrust case that defines the next era of internet businesses.
In December, The Information reported that the FTC was looking into Meta’s proposed acquisition of Supernatural, a VR fitness app, in a deal worth more than $400 million.
Earlier this week, a judge ruled that the FTC’s major antitrust case against Facebook (owned by parent company Meta) could continue, throwing out the company’s effort to block it. In December, Facebook asked the court to dismiss the suit and pushed for FTC Chair Lina Khan, a proponent of breaking up big tech, to recuse herself.
In that suit, the FTC accuses Facebook of abusing its market power to quell rivals in the social media space and goes as far as asking a judge to make parent company Meta divest itself of Instagram and WhatsApp.
“The facts alleged this time around to fortify those theories, however, are far more robust and detailed than before, particularly in regard to the contours of Defendant’s alleged monopoly,” U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote.
“… Although the agency may well face a tall task down the road in proving its allegations, the Court believes that it has now cleared the pleading bar and may proceed to discovery.”