ByteDance Promising ‘Top-Notch Services’ Following Pico Layoffs
Following reports that it is shutting down its virtual reality offshoot Pico Interactive, ByteDance has since issued a statement to dispel the shutdown rumors while also revealing its future VR plans.
In a statement to the XR news website UploadVR, ByteDance reiterated that its PICO brand will continue operating normally and will offer users “top-notch services.” ByteDance says PICO users can still access games and content that is available on the Pico ecosystem. ByteDance’s Pico will “continue to invest in hardware, core technologies” and will also enhance the user experience for both its current and new customers.
The ByteDance layoffs come just two years after the company’s acquisition of Pico, a China-based virtual reality headset manufacturer. Like Meta, ByteDance is already a major player in the social media space with its TikTok subsidiary.
The new ByteDance statement follows an official report from the company which confirmed that it was restructuring its XR hardware subsidiary. The company did not specify the number of staff it is laying off in Europe and the United States but it denied earlier reports that they ran into thousands.
On the other hand, Meta unceremoniously scrapped a Grand Theft Auto VR (GTA) game but the company continues to invest in exclusive VR content that is created from the ground up. Meta’s Facebook Reality Labs, previously known as Oculus Studio, now has close to a decade of experience completing significantly funded projects. This season, Meta bundled its Quest 3 headsets with a lineup that included Asgard’s Wrath and Assassin’s Creed Nexus. Meta’s huge investment in the metaverse is being gobbled up by titles such as these.
Pico’s first major exclusive was Just Dance. However, ByteDance’s recent statement suggests this title might be the sole but never-shipped Pico 4 exclusive. Pico seemed promising at the beginning and was expected to be a major player in the XR industry but its business is yet to meet industry expectations.
Meta’s original Quest headset ran from 2019 to 2020. The Pico 4 headset barely matched the original Quest in raw usage numbers based on the SteamVR hardware survey. Quest 2, commanding 40% of the market, is currently the most used headset on Steam, aided largely by low prices and having been around for about 3 years. It uses the XR2 processor, the same chip used in the Pico 4 headset. Pico 4 numbers are further depressed by the fact that it is yet to launch in the U.S. market.
Can Pico match Meta’s speed and scale of investment? Meta currently has close to a decade of experience as a player in both the VR hardware and software ecosystem, having partnered with Qualcomm for its hardware projects and released a number of AAA exclusives. Over the years, Meta has also been acquiring and acqui-hiring a number of fledgling but promising VR studios, many of which went on to release several VR hits.
Meta has dominated the immersive market for low-cost but high-powered mass-market virtual reality hardware with its Quest 2 headset by generously subsidizing the product. Newcomers like Pico are unlikely to upstage it from its current dominant position.
ByteDance’s restructuring of Pico Interactive with a hint that it is going after “core technologies” comes only months after the unveiling of the Vision Pro headset. The Apple reveal confirmed that the tech giant’s upcoming headset will leverage a breakthrough blend of eye and hand tracking although details on controllers are yet to be divulged. It is, therefore, no coincidence that ByteDance also wants its developers to support hand tracking on its hardware ecosystem “wherever possible”.
With Pico unable to dent Meta’s market dominance with some of the most competitive hardware offerings and no prospects for exclusive content and the broader availability of its headsets, it is difficult to see how ByteDance will crack the market and carve a niche with its VR hardware products.https://virtualrealitytimes.com/2023/11/12/bytedance-promising-top-notch-services-following-pico-layoffs/BusinessFollowing reports that it is shutting down its virtual reality offshoot Pico Interactive, ByteDance has since issued a statement to dispel the shutdown rumors while also revealing its future VR plans. In a statement to the XR news website UploadVR, ByteDance reiterated that its PICO brand will continue operating normally...Sam OchanjiSam Ochanji[email protected]AdministratorVirtual Reality Times