ByteDance’s Pico 4 VR headset enters competition with Meta

On September 27, TikTok’s parent company ByteDance launched the Pico 4 VR headset in China, ushering in a new rival for Meta Platforms’ Quest 2 gadget.

Much like Meta’s Quest 2, Pico 4 also allows six degrees of freedom, tracking movement from head to toe and then translating that into VR with realistic precision. In addition, the Pico 4 possesses a high display resolution that is lighter and cheaper than Meta’s, as well as a bigger battery.

While Meta Quest 2 continues to dominate the market globally, its services and content are inaccessible in China. This, therefore, gives Pico an enormous advantage to focus on building up local content. In fact, Pico has been working alongside Chinese content providers to offer a range of services, from virtual concerts to exercise courses and interactive narrative work.

So far, Pico has hosted three VR concerts with famous artists including Elvis Wang, Michael Zhen and Wang Feng. Meanwhile, in the fitness world, Pico has partnered with Shenzhen-based startup, Supermonkey, as well as international fitness influencer Pamela Reif.

Compared to the average VR headset cost, the Pico 4 is quite affordable, ranging from 2,499 RMB (352.76 USD) to 3,799 RMB (536.27) for 128 GB and 512 GB respectively. This is a first for China, where budget-friendly VR and AR devices with high-spec options in China were previously few and far between.

In 2021, ByteDance acquired Pico at a cost of 9 billion RMB (1.27 billion USD). That same year, Pico sold roughly 500,000 VR devices and was the third-largest VR headset maker globally in the first financial quarter with shipments growing 44.7% year-on-year.  Since then, the company has expanded aggressively, with employee headcount rising from 300 to over 1,000. Of these employees, approximately 70-80% are engaged in development and research.

Come mid-October, the new headset will be available in 13 European countries as well as Japan and South Korea. By the end of 2022, the product will launch in China, Singapore and Malaysia. So far, a US release has not been announced, however a June report by Protocol revealed that Pico is preparing for US expansion by hiring a team on the West coast for content licensing and marketing.

Overall, ByteDance’s new device offers more exercise content and incorporates a number of entertainment deals with local partners. By offering low-cost price points, the company reflects its mission to make VR accessible to everyone.


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