Following an antitrust lawsuit with the FTC, Meta has officially acquired Within, the developer of VR fitness app Supernatural.
The immersive VR fitness service wants to make users daily workouts “fun, effective, convenient, and incredibly empowering.” The app offers workouts with rhythm-mapped sequences to hit songs and real coaches. Plus, users can transport themselves to different locations ranging from Machu Picchu to Mars.
According to a blog post, the team behind Supernatural “believe deeply in the power of the metaverse and VR to bring people together and empower positive change.”
Supernatural will continue to operate independently as part of Reality Labs and will continue to create fitness, wellness, and social experiences in VR.
The US’ Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued Meta in July to block the purchase of Within, alleging that the deal would be anti-competitive. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg even testified at the trial, defending the company’s acquisition.
“Instead of competing on the merits, Meta is trying to buy its way to the top,” said FTC Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John Newman in a statement about the lawsuit.
“Meta already owns a best-selling virtual reality fitness app, and it had the capabilities to compete even more closely with Within’s popular Supernatural app. But Meta chose to buy market position instead of earning it on the merits.”
Zuckerberg said that fitness was not his priority in the VR space, instead being focused on social, gaming, and productivity use cases.
The acquisition also comes at an inconvenient time for Meta. The company laid off 11,000 workers around the world in November. Plus, despite the entire company’s revenue growing and beating analyst estimates, the Reality Labs VR division has been burning through money.
In the three months ending December, the division lost US$4.28 billion (AU$6 billion) up from US$3.3 billion year-on-year. Across the whole of 2022, Reality Labs lost US$13.7 billion (AU$19.20 billion), up from US$10.1 billion (AU$14.15 billion) in 2021.
Whether Meta’s acquisition will help convince people that the metaverse is, in fact, the future, remains to be seen. Nevertheless Within’s execs seem pleased:
“Today marks an exciting new chapter for Supernatural, as we officially join Meta. We’re elated for the opportunity to bring joy, awe, wonder, and a happier, healthier life to more people around the world,” said Within CEO Chris Milk.
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