Tech Wars in Plain Sight: A Strategic Marketing Play in the Battle for Eyeballs

How Meta stole the spotlight from Apple on its Vision Pro release day.

At 8am EST on Friday, February 2nd, 2024 Apple’s Vision Pro headset became available for public demo and sale in retail outlets across the United States. This new entry into AR/VR brought with it, according to Apple, a new way of working they dubbed as “special computing”. 

Masters of Staying Top of Mind

Opening to rave reviews by the tech media since its initial announcement on June 5th, 2023, from a marketing perspective Apple continued to do what it has done so well for years…get the world excited about its newest product, get the marketplace talking about it, and let the media and consumer be Apple’s most effective marketing weapon. Throw a few actions in such as media releases about increasing production numbers, other product announcement events where they obviously allude to the new product, and a campaign around a pre-order date and they successfully amplify the chatter and keep the buzz up for eight months – even as the largest competitor in the space, Meta, launches v3 of their VR headset.

This is classic Apple. They are highly adept at leveraging media and word of mouth. Few are better. And this must be incredibly frustrating to their competitors. 

Zuckerberg Faces a Bigger Beast

With respect to the Vision Pro, Meta clearly sees this a competitive threat. Mark Zuckerberg has shown time and again how he does not like competition. Historically he has either acquired or if that didn’t work, copied and destroyed competitors. Apple is a much larger beast so his traditional modus operandi doesn’t work. But Apple has not traditionally been a direct competitor of Meta’s. Now, with the launch of the Vision Pro, Apple is jumping into the world of AR/VR, a.k.a the metaverse. Zuckerberg sees this as his sandbox, even having changed the name of his company to reflect this perspective.

This brings us back to the first days of February. On Friday the 2nd much of the news on the tech world would normally have been focused on Apple. However late afternoon after the market closed in New York on the day before, Meta released its financials, and on its earnings call surprised investors with the announcement of its first dividend at a not insignificant 50 cents/share, following this with an additional reveal of $50 billion in share repurchases. The result? Friday’s news cycle was split between Meta and Apple.

Meta seems to have benefited from a dose of great luck sapping attention from Apple on the day Apple’s competitive product is made available to the world. Coincidence? Or purposeful tactic? 

Preparing the Battlefield?

Looking back just three-and-a-half weeks to January 8th, Apple officially announced, with a flashy, lengthy press release containing a plethora of pictures and videos, that the Vision Pro would be in stores available for demos and purchase on Friday, February 2nd.  On that same day of January 8th Meta issued a bland six-sentence (not including disclaimers and other legalese) press release announcing Thursday, February 1st, 4:30pm as the release of their Q4 and FY2023 results and earnings call.


Could this all just be a coincidence? Certainly. Meta’s previous years’ earnings were released around the same time…though their press announcements were historically a few days earlier than this year. Or was this Meta keeping tabs on its competition and making a decision, with very little effort beyond scheduling, on launching a salvo to take some of the attention away from the competition’s new entrant. If it was the latter, well done to Mark and his team. If it was the former, what luck for them! 

Regardless of whether purposeful or coincidental, it was one move in the long chess games that are the tech wars. Apple has proven a strength in strategy and a history of winning over the long-term. Meta has shown an ability to learn and adapt. Both are hungry, aggressive and fiercely competitive. Whether or not February 1st – 2nd was purposeful or coincidental, there are certainly lessons to be learned. And as with the end of that week, these continuing battles will be intriguing to watch.

Photo credits: Tim Cook by Austin Community College, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Mark Zuckerberg by Anurag R Dubey, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons