TikTok owner says it’s still committed to VR after rumours swell of it ditching Pico headsets

TikTok owner ByteDance says it’s committed to its virtual reality arm, Pico, following a report that claimed it was intending to wind down the business.

A report from research firm EqualOcean had suggested that ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming told Pico’s bosses that they should prepare to gently let Pico disappear into the inky nothingness.

ByteDance has since formally rebuked that claim in a statement to Reuters.

“The report that we are shutting down Pico is not true. Pico is under normal operation and the company will continue to invest in the extended reality (XR) business over the long term,” the statement said.

Another separate report suggested ByteDance was preparing to shake up Pico’s strategy. In another statement, ByteDance rebuked this claim, too, saying it “will continue the normal operation of the product”.

With Meta and Apple both going hard on XR and VR headsets, it makes sense that ByteDance would like to stick around in the business. Though that’s stern competition; even the company behind TikTok will have trouble trying to keep apace with the spending of these two firms. Meta often spends over one billion dollars a month on its Reality Labs division, which is primarily responsible for its VR headsets, such as the Quest 3, and Zuck’s metaverse dream.

Virtual reality

(Image credit: Valve)

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More of a Quest 2 competitor, Katie was impressed with ByteDance’s headset in her Pico 4 headset review. It offers solid visuals, accurate tracking, and awesome colour passthrough. Though it’s tough to secure in the US, which will likely continue to be a difficulty for the largely China-based company.

Pico could continue to be well placed to serve the Chinese market, so it makes sense that Pico would stick around in the market. That’s going to prove especially true if US-China relations continue to stay sour for tech imports and exports. Though a couple of reports to the contrary do make me think of that old adage: there’s no smoke without fire. 

It seems for now not much will change over at Pico, though the wider VR market still needs a kick in the butt. Even with the latest headsets hitting the market, it still feels like the metaverse for the masses is a long way off.

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