Alphabet's Google Trends can provide an intriguing insight into what's hot and what's not. I used the site in an effort to gauge the interest in the respective AI programs for Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Meta Platforms (META -2.70%).

The search term "Google AI" has enjoyed the highest interest by far over the last 30 days. "Microsoft AI" came in second, followed by "Amazon AI." The term "Meta AI" trailed well behind all the others.

People just don't seem to be as interested in Meta's AI efforts as they are in the other tech giants' initiatives, at least based on search engine traffic. But maybe they should be. Meta actually has two big AI advantages over Amazon, Google, and Microsoft that are hiding in plain sight. 

1. An open door

Meta unveiled its AI game plan in the company's first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday. More than that, though, it also discussed a potential competitive advantage that hasn't received a lot of attention thus far. 

CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated in the Q1 call, "Right now, most of the companies that are training large language models have business models that lead them to a closed approach to development." However, he believes a big opportunity exists to develop an "open ecosystem" for AI.

Zuckerberg argued that Meta could be in the driver's seat in building such an open ecosystem. He noted, "Our approach to AI and our infrastructure has always been fairly open."

One example Zuckerberg cited was the company releasing its LLaMa large language model to researchers earlier this year. He also mentioned Meta's open-sourcing of three AI visual models: Segment Anything, DinoV2, and its Animated Drawings tool.

There's a key reason why Meta could have a big advantage on this front. Zuckerberg discussed it in his comments in the Q1 call, saying, "I think to some degree we're just playing a different game on the [AI] infrastructure than companies like Google or Microsoft or Amazon." All three of these tech giants provide cloud services and have incentives to build proprietary AI infrastructure, but Meta doesn't.

Zuckerberg thinks that Meta has an opportunity to lead the charge in creating an open AI ecosystem. He anticipates that this will help other companies integrate more easily and effectively with Meta's products and platforms. As a result, Zuckerberg predicts that Meta will be able to stay on the leading edge of AI.

2. The metAIverse?

Meta has another potential AI advantage over its big rivals as well. Zuckerberg argued that AI is already helping build the metaverse. And he thinks that metaverse technologies will help expand AI. This is important for Meta because of the company's highly publicized (and highly maligned) effort to make Zuckerberg's vision of the metaverse a reality.

Some think that Meta should abandon its metaverse plans. However, Zuckerberg insists that building the metaverse remains a critical long-term focus for the company.

AI and the metaverse are indeed intertwined. Meta's first stand-alone virtual reality (VR) device wouldn't have been possible without key advances in computer vision technology. The company's mixed-reality projects are built on AI that helps blend the physical and virtual worlds.

Zuckerberg said that Meta's "vision for AR glasses involves an AI-centric operating system that we think will be the basis for the next generation of computing." If he's right, the company's metaverse focus really could give it a key edge in AI.

Advantages all around

To be sure, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all have their own AI advantages. All three companies have huge growth prospects as customers build AI technology on their cloud platforms. Each tech giant also has its own devices that should benefit from AI advances. I predict that they'll all be big winners from the AI explosion and are great stocks for long-term investors to buy.

However, I think that Meta's AI potential is hotter than Google Trends might currently indicate. The company's leadership in building an open AI ecosystem and an AI-driven metaverse could give it advantages that investors shouldn't ignore.