ByteDance could be coming again for Meta’s lunch if reports that it’s preparing to launch two new Pico 4 VR headsets are true.
The main (read: only) name in VR right now is Meta, thanks in no small part to the hugely popular Oculus Quest 2. While we believe the Valve Index is the best VR headset in the world, the Quest 2 still packs a punch and costs less than half of what the Index does – and is even cheaper when you consider that you don’t need a VR-ready PC to use Meta’s standalone device.
However, a new competitor seems poised to take Meta down a few times.
Pico has been on the VR scene for a while, but so far consumer efforts have focused mainly on China, where parent company ByteDance is based. There was the Pico Neo 3 which launched in the UK and the rest of Europe in April this year, but it hasn’t made much of an impression yet. However, we could see the brand becoming a more famous name when the leaked Pico 4 headsets finally drop.
According to a recent FCC filing – the US Federal Communications Commission – Pico is apparently preparing to launch a new Pico 4 device and a Pico 4 Pro in the US (via protocol). Based on the application, the two headsets seem to have many similarities, the main difference being eye tracking and face tracking, which are exclusive to the Pro version.
Adding more fuel to the fire is a follow-up leak that supposedly revealed what the new controllers will look like. Images of someone familiar with the project were shared by SkarredGhost and revealed some fairly sophisticated looking handsets.
The controllers have many similarities to those of Meta’s Quest 2 – such as nearly identical button placements – but what appear to be the follower rings have turned into handguards that wrap from the top to the bottom of the handset. The Quest 2’s tracking rings, on the other hand, which allow VR headsets to track the movement of the controllers, are placed at the top of each controller.
See the photos below for a comparison:
Image 1 from 2
While these leaked images look convincing, don’t forget to take all the rumors with a grain of salt. Until Pico or ByteDance make an official announcement, we won’t know for sure what is being worked on.
However, with more and more details disappearing into the wild, it probably won’t be long before both companies reveal something about the Pico 4.
The news of a new rival standalone headset launching in the US couldn’t have come at a worse time for Meta.
Thanks to inflation-driven production cost increases, Meta has just increased the price of its Oculus Quest 2 headsets. The 128GB Quest 2 is now $400 / £400 / AU$630 (from $299 / £299 / AU$479), and the 256GB version is now $500 / £500 / AU$790 (instead of $399 / £399 / AU$639). While the 128GB headset has returned to the price it originally launched in 2020, there is no longer a cheaper 64GB model for people to buy, meaning the Quest 2 is more expensive than ever for new users.
Plus, Meta just announced a drop in ad sales too (opens in new tab) this financial quarter – the first time ad revenue has fallen. It follows reports earlier this year in which Meta revealed that Facebook saw its monthly active users drop in the last quarter of 2021 compared to the quarter before — another first for the company.
What’s more, while Meta still hosts many of the best VR games on its Quest 2 headset, the recent cancellation of Splinter Cell VR has weakened the gaming lineup of the hardware a bit.
If the Pico 4 can take advantage of this moment of vulnerability to the frost of the VR space – by launching a headset that’s cheaper or one that’s more powerful at a similar price to the Quest 2 – then it could be the first real contender. are for the VR throne.
Although Meta probably won’t want to give up without a fight – especially not against ByteDance. Pico’s parent company is the same company that backs TikTok, the hugely popular social media platform.
TikTok’s meteoric rise over its rivals has forced Meta to rethink his entire social media empire. It recently updated Instagram to make it look a lot more like TikTok – however, the change was quickly rolled back after many of the platform’s biggest celebrities bemoaned the change to their millions of followers.
We’ll have to wait and see if Meta can beat ByteDance’s potential VR improvements. However, with it clearly coming up with plans to take on TikTok and still working on a brand new VR headset (codenamed Project Cambria) that could launch later this year, it’s clear that Meta isn’t going to go down without a very real fight.