ByteDance’s Pico debuts its Quest rival, however challenges stay •

When ByteDance purchased the Chinese language VR headset maker Pico a 12 months in the past, the message it despatched was clear: it was betting that the immersive system could be the place future generations spend most of their time consuming digital content material. It’s a wedding harking back to Meta’s acquisition of Oculus again in 2014, besides the world is now in a special place with technological advances that make VR headsets cheaper, much less laggy, and extra comfy to put on.

The TikTok father or mother has lengthy aimed to compete in a market dominated by Oculus’s VR gadgets for shoppers. When Meta launched Quest 2 in 2020, ByteDance labored on a confidential inside venture to develop AR glasses, The Data reported. Pico’s product launch this week is an extra indication of its ambition to problem Quest, which has loved roughly two-thirds of the worldwide AR and VR marketplace for the previous two years.

The Pico 4, which begins at €429 (round $420 because of a powerful greenback) for 128GB and ships to Europe, Japan, and South Korea other than China, has obtained applause within the VR neighborhood. It weighs solely 295 grams with out the straps and may operate as a standalone system but additionally be tethered to PCs for extra superior VR experiences. It makes use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor as Quest 2 does. 

“It’s cheap and good high quality, with specs that may match Quest 2,” says Gavin Newton-Tanzer, host of blended actuality convention AWE Asia.

“Was impressed with the burden, consolation, LCD show, pancake lenses, colour AR passthrough, and controllers. All it wants now are critical triple-A VR exclusives to differentiate itself from Meta to get players ,” writes a VR content material creator.

Merely “matching” Quest 2 specs doesn’t sound ok given the latter got here out two years in the past and have become an prompt hit. Pico not solely has a whole lot of catch-up to do on the technological entrance but additionally by way of content material and branding.

“Oculus’s content material ecosystem is extra established, offering a greater understanding of what shoppers need,” says Newton-Tanzer. Well-liked rhythm sport Beat Saber, as an example, had generated $100 million in income on Oculus Quest by October 2021.

Pico is dealing with a chicken-or-egg downside, the XR skilled suggests. Its person base throughout product strains isn’t presently giant sufficient that top-tier creators could be devoted to creating video games, movies, and different VR content material solely for its platform. It reportedly offered 500,000 items final 12 months, half of its goal. In distinction, Quest 2 shipped 10 million items within the area of October 2020 and November 2021. However with out premium content material, Pico can have a tough time attracting customers in a significant manner.

The excellent news is Pico has established a powerful foothold in China and doesn’t face a lot competitors within the dwelling market. Oculus doesn’t have an official presence in China, which means customers need to undergo the effort of ordering an abroad model, getting the Oculus app from a overseas app retailer, and accessing its international app ecosystem by a digital personal community as Meta’s servers are blocked in China.

The technological bifurcation might enable Pico time to check and study within the dwelling market earlier than launching into the West at full steam. Enlargement within the U.S. is already set in movement as ByteDance started constructing a group for Pico on the West Coast, in keeping with Protocol, with a spotlight to draw expertise in content material, advertising, and R&D.

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