Competition for Quest 2? TikTok will invest more in VR - report
TikTok parent company Bytedance wants to enter the US VR market and is investing heavily in professionals and content.
According to a report from Protocol, Bytedance's planned US expansion is well underway. The company is building a West Coast team to handle hardware marketing and content licensing. More than 40 positions are posted for the Bay Area, Seattle and San Diego, many of them for an organization called Pico Studios, which is expected to focus on VR.
Additional jobs are open for VR hardware and software development, as well as research. Pico is also looking for a senior sales and marketing professional specifically for the US market. Bytedance is also drawing on its resources for its planned VR expansion: TikTok's US manager in charge of business development, Sally Wang, is now expected to work for VR subsidiary Pico.
Bytedance invests in VR content
Bytedance is also said to have begun approaching studios and developers and, according to a source close to the company, is willing to pay tons of money for games and experiences, including titles that Meta licensed for Meta Quest 2. A number of well-known VR games are already available for the Europe-only Pico Neo 3 Link, including Superhot VR, Red Matter, Eleven Table Tennis, and Arizona Sunshine.
The rumors follow reports of an operational restructuring aimed at strengthening the VR business. Bytedance is also partnering with US chipmaker Qualcomm on hardware and software, a partnership that is expected to benefit the development of the Pico ecosystem. Qualcomm's XR2 chip is used in a number of standalone VR devices, including Pico Neo 3 and Quest 2.
Competition for Cambria instead of Quest?
Bytedance acquired Pico in August 2021 and recently began selling the Pico Neo 3 to European consumers. A US launch would allow Bytedance to attack Meta's largest VR market. The question is whether Bytedance is willing to offer its VR headset at a similarly competitive price as Meta did with the Quest 2. In Europe, the Pico Neo 3 Link costs 450 euros, while the Quest 2 is available for 100 euros less.
Bytedance could also launch with an entirely different product in the US, such as a successor to the Pico Neo 3 or a high-end VR headset that challenges Meta's Cambria headset.
It remains to be seen how serious Bytedance is about virtual reality and augmented reality. It will take a lot of staying power and a strong will to invest to bring the corresponding hardware to the mass market. By way of comparison, Meta employs around 17,000 specialists in this area and invests a double-digit billion amount in research and development every year.