Pico 4: Bytedance sells 46,000 VR headsets in China
Bytedance wants to sell one million units of the Pico 4 worldwide. Interest in the home market seems to be rather weak.
The VR headset went on sale on September 27 and generated 46,000 online orders by October 14 - just 18 days later. This is according to the market research company Sandalwood Advisors, which specializes in China. Four days later, the headset launched in Europe.
Online retailers JD.com and Alibaba's T-Mall accounted for 65 and 17 percent of the orders, respectively, while Bytedance's Douyin app, the Chinese equivalent of TikTok, accounted for another 17 percent.
Pico 4 costs the equivalent of $350 and $400 in China, depending on the storage configuration (128 or 256 GB). That puts the device below the average Chinese smartphone price ($420), making the VR headset "more acceptable among consumers," according to the market research firm's report.
Pico has high expectations
The sales figures are far below the target set by Pico President Henry Zhou. In a group interview with Chinese media in September, Zhou said sales expectations were over one million devices. Zhou likely referred to worldwide sales.
At this point, it is unclear how long Pico 4 will remain on the market and when the headset will be replaced by a newer model. The world's best-selling VR headset Meta Quest 2 is not available in China.
The sales figures were reported by the Hong Kong daily South Morning China Post. Pico owner Bytedance did not respond to an inquiry about the volume of offline orders for Pico 4.
The company is now likely to look closely at sales in other countries. The headset has been available in 13 European countries, as well as Japan and South Korea, since October 18. A launch in Singapore and Malaysia is planned before the end of the year. A rolling release of the headset may help the company manage orders as it is reportedly behind on production.
A rocky road for Bytedance
The company has not yet commented on a possible US launch. The United States is the largest potential market for VR devices, but full of pitfalls for Bytedance.
For one, the TikTok parent has been facing regulatory action for some time, and Meta Quest 2 is particularly strong there. Bytedance executives are aware, according to one report, that it would be "extremely difficult and enormously expensive" to challenge Meta in its home market.
Pico 4 is the second Pico headset aimed at consumers released in the West, following Pico Neo 3 Link. The launch comes two years after Meta Quest 2 went on sale. During that period, Meta's VR headset penetrated the market largely uncontested.
According to a June report from research firm IDC, Meta controls 90 percent of the VR market. Pico follows with a 4.5 percent share.