Pico 4: US launch reportedly delayed in last-minute decision
Pico 4 was supposed to launch in the US last week. A political hearing had thwarted those plans, according to a report.
Pico created a lot of excitement for VR enthusiasts last week. According to a tweet, there would be a big announcement at GDC 2023 on Wednesday. "A new journey begins," it read above an image of a black hole with the shape of the Pico 4.
A new journey begins
— PICO XR (@PICOXR) March 20, 2023
It would have been the perfect time for a US launch of the Pico 4 VR headset: The GDC was in full swing, and Pico was present with a large booth. The disappointment was all the greater when no announcement was made on Wednesday.
An unfortunate timing
The Verge reporter Sean Hollister was present at the booth and spoke to a Pico employee. He told him that the company had planned to release Pico 4 in the U.S., but had decided to hold off, "because the parent company was being questioned by congressmen in Washington about a better-known product, TikTok".
U.S. lawmakers are considering banning the popular app and summoned TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew to appear before Congress on Thursday. Politicians suspect the Chinese company of sharing user data with the Beijing government and misusing the platform for propaganda purposes. The hearing was announced on the very same day Pico 4 was supposed to launch.
The time is running out for Pico 4
The Pico 4 is being touted as the first serious competitor to the Meta Quest 2. The standalone device went on sale in Europe and a number of East Asian countries last September, but not in the world's largest VR market, the US. The main reason is likely to be the impending ban of TikTok and other political threats to Bytedance's US business.
Bytedance acquired Pico in 2021 and has since been investing heavily in virtual reality. The headset manufacturer has reportedly missed sales targets for Pico 4 and is struggling with internal disputes. Time is pressing for Pico's US launch, also because a significantly improved Meta Quest 3 is already in the starting blocks.