Report: Pico 5 canceled, a new Pico 4 still in development
Pico 5 is canceled according to a new report. Work continues on an update for Pico 4 and a device in the style of the Apple Vision Pro.
A new report from The Information confirms these rumors and goes even further: Pico's parent company and TikTok owner Bytedance is said to have canceled Pico 5 after sales of Pico 4 fell far short of Bytedance's expectations. The Information cites people familiar with the situation. They said the next VR headset was supposed to be released at the end of 2024.
Bytedance is now chasing Apple
According to the report, Bytedance is not abandoning the VR market altogether: Pico is continuing to work on a long-term project, codenamed Swan, with the aim of developing a "high-end headset with cutting-edge technologies". The project is partly inspired by the Apple Vision Pro, but is still largely conceptual. People with direct knowledge of the project said they did not know if it will become a commercial product.
Development is also continuing on an "updated version of the Pico 4," the sources said. The original was released in Europe and a handful of other countries in October 2022, but not in the US, where Chinese company Bytedance is facing political and regulatory challenges. The report does not describe the new Pico 4 headset's specifications.
Pico has shrunk by more than half
The Information also writes that TikTok's parent company bought Pico for $1.3 billion. The acquisition was driven by the ambitions of founder Zhang Yiming, who wanted to follow Mark Zuckerberg's vision for the Metaverse.
Bytedance had reportedly increased the number of employees at Pico from 300 to more than 2,200 by 2022. According to the report, 400 out of 1,800 employees were laid off last month, including teams responsible for content partnerships. Another 600 people were transferred to other roles within ByteDance.
According to various reports, Pico discontinued a Beat Saber competitor and abandoned the development of the exclusive title Just Dance, which is now being finalized by another, undisclosed Ubisoft partner. Bytedance assured UploadVR that everything is continuing as normal at Pico. However, the reports of recent months do not inspire much confidence that the company will continue to invest heavily in the consumer ecosystem it has built up over the last year.