[Insights] MediaTek Collaborates with Meta to Develop Next-Generation Smart Glasses Chip

2023-11-24 Semiconductors editor

MediaTek announced a collaboration with Meta to develop its next-generation smart glasses chip. Since Meta has previously used Qualcomm chips for its two generations of smart glasses products, it is speculated that Meta’s expansion of chip suppliers is aimed at maintaining supply chain flexibility and reducing costs. MediaTek, in turn, is poised to leverage smart glasses to tap into opportunities within Meta’s VR/AR devices.

 TrendForce’s Insights:

  1. Meta Expands Chip Collaboration Suppliers, Maintaining Product Development Flexibility and Potential Cost Reduction

In mid-November 2023, MediaTek hosted the overseas summit, Mediatek Executive Summit 2023, where it announced a collaboration with Meta to develop the next-generation smart glasses chip.

Meta’s first smart glasses, a collaborative creation with Ray-Ban in 2021, differ from the Quest series as they are not high-end VR devices but rather feature a simpler design, focusing on additional functionalities like music playback and phone calls.

In the fall of 2023, Meta introduced a successor product with significant improvements in camera resolution, video quality, microphones, and internal storage. This new device is designed to simplify the recording and live streaming process by integrating with Meta’s social platform. Additionally, the new product aligns with the trend of generative AI and incorporates Meta’s AI voice assistant based on Llama2 LLM.

Notably, the market has shown keen interest and discussion regarding MediaTek’s announcement on the collaboration with Meta, given that Meta’s previous two generations of smart glasses used Qualcomm chips, specifically the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 4100 for the older version and the AR1 Gen1 for the new version.

Analysis of Meta’s Motivation: Meta’s decision to collaborate with MediaTek may be driven by considerations of risk diversification among suppliers and overall cost reduction.

Firstly, Meta has been investing in the development of in-house chips in recent years to ensure flexibility in product development. Examples include the MTIA chip, disclosed in mid-2023, designed for processing inference-related tasks, and the MSVP, the first in-house ASIC chip for video transcoding, which is expected to be used in VR and AR devices.

Given Meta’s previous attempts, including collaboration with Samsung, to independently develop chips and move towards chip autonomy, the partnership with MediaTek can be seen as a risk mitigation strategy against vendor lock-in.

Secondly, considering that smart glasses, unlike the high-priced Quest series, are currently priced at USD 299 for both models, MediaTek’s competitive pricing may also be a significant factor in Meta’s decision to collaborate with them.

  1. MediaTek Eyes VR and AR Device Market Opportunities Through Smart Glasses Collaboration with Meta

From MediaTek’s perspective, their focus extends beyond smart glasses to the vast business opportunities presented by Meta’s VR and AR devices. In reality, examining Meta’s smart glasses alone reveals estimated shipments of around 300,000 pairs for the older model. Even with the new model and the anticipated successor expected to launch in 2025, there is currently no clear indication of significant market momentum.

In practical terms, this collaboration with Meta might not contribute substantially to MediaTek’s revenue. The crucial aspect of MediaTek’s collaboration with Meta lies in strategically positioning itself in Meta’s smart headwear supply chain, challenging the dominance of the original chip supplier, Qualcomm.

Looking at global VR device shipments, Meta is projected to hold over 70% market share in 2023 and 2024. There are also reports of an updated version of the Quest device expected to be available in China in late 2024. If MediaTek can expand its collaboration with Meta further, coupled with the gradual increase in the penetration rate of VR and AR devices, significant business opportunities still lie ahead.

From an overall perspective of the VR and AR industry, the current design of headwear devices no longer resembles the early models that required external computing cores due to considerations of cost, power, and heat.

The prevalent mainstream designs are now standalone devices. Given that these devices not only execute the primary application functions but also handle and consolidate a substantial amount of data from sensors to support functions like object tracking and image recognition, VR and AR devices require high-performance chips or embedded auxiliary SoCs. This market demand and profit potential are compelling enough to attract chip manufacturers, especially in the face of the gradual decline in momentum in the consumer electronics market, such as smartphones.

The VR and AR market still holds development potential, making it a strategic entry point for manufacturers. This insight is evident in MediaTek’s motivation, continuing its market cultivation efforts after developing the first VR chip for Sony PS VR2 in 2022 and collaborating with Meta.