ByteDance’s Pico debuts its Oculus Quest rival, but challenges remain • TechCrunch

When ByteDance purchased the Chinese language VR headset maker Pico a yr in the past, the message it despatched was clear: it was betting that the immersive system can be the place future generations spend most of their time consuming digital content material. It’s a wedding paying homage 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 mum or dad has lengthy aimed to compete in a market dominated by Oculus’s VR units for customers. When Meta launched Quest 2 in 2020, ByteDance labored on a confidential inner undertaking to develop AR glasses, The Info reported. Pico’s product launch this week is an additional 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 robust greenback) for 128GB and ships to Europe, Japan, and South Korea except for China, has acquired applause within the VR neighborhood. It weighs solely 295 grams with out the straps and may operate as a standalone system but in addition 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 combined actuality convention AWE Asia.

“Was impressed with the burden, consolation, LCD show, pancake lenses, shade AR passthrough, and controllers. All it wants now are severe triple-A VR exclusives to tell apart itself from Meta to get avid gamers ,” writes a VR content material creator.

Merely “matching” Quest 2 specs doesn’t sound adequate given the latter got here out two years in the past and have become an instantaneous hit. Pico not solely has quite a lot of catch-up to do on the technological entrance but in addition when it comes to content material and branding.

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

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

“A number of the Chinese language VR corporations act an excessive amount of like producers and suppose purely about {hardware} gross sales with out an excessive amount of consideration of basically what individuals need to do with the product,” says Francis Bea, founding father of Eleven Worldwide, a cross-border tech PR company. “Pico must basically put money into nice content material and know the way to model the product earlier than it’s actually aggressive.”

The excellent news is Pico has established a robust foothold in China and doesn’t face a lot competitors within the residence 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 via a digital non-public community as Meta’s servers are blocked in China.

The technological bifurcation may permit Pico time to check and study within the residence 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 workforce for Pico on the West Coast, in accordance with Protocol, with a spotlight to draw expertise in content material, advertising, and R&D.

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