Tik-Tok Owner ByteDance Steps Into VR, Acquires Pico

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has made its first push into virtual reality (VR) with the acquisition of Pico, a start-up. ByteDance has taken another significant step toward broadening its product portfolio with the acquisition of Pico. Pico is mostly active in China, where Facebook’s Oculus VR subsidiary does not, although it is gradually extending its global reach. Pico Neo 3 Pro and Neo 3 Pro Eye, the company’s most recent solutions, are expected to be available in North America and Europe in the coming months. As a result, the Chinese firm will now compete directly with Oculus, which controls about two-thirds of the worldwide VR headset market.

Pico’s “complete suite of software and hardware solutions, as well as the skills and deep expertise of the team, will assist both our entry into the VR sector and long-term investment in this burgeoning field,” according to ByteDance, which is based in Beijing.

According to IDC, Pico was the world’s third-largest virtual reality headset manufacturer in the first quarter of 2021, with shipments up 44.7 per cent year over year. Pico, which was founded in 2015, claims to have over 300 employees worldwide.

The short video app TikTok and its Chinese equivalent Douyin, as well as news aggregation service Toutiao, have all been successful for ByteDance. It’s difficult to say whether this represents a rebound for VR or another indicator of a decreasing market without knowing the general terms of the deal. What appears to be the most likely scenario is that ByteDance is serious about developing a consumer VR brand and that it intends to carefully follow in Facebook’s footsteps, learning from their mistakes and capitalising on their contributions to the ecosystem.

The transaction was verified by the Chinese company on Monday, according to CNBC. The amount of money discussed between ByteDance and Pico, however, was not revealed. TikTok recently also released TikTok Effect Studio, a new creative toolkit presently in private beta testing that will allow the platform’s own developer community to create augmented reality (AR) effects.

The company is seeking interested developers to sign up for early access to Effect Studio on a new website called “Effect House.” According to Engadget, developers fill out the form with their name, email, TikTok account information, firm, and amount of experience with designing for AR, as well as examples of their work.

The website also inquired as to whether they use a Mac or PC (apparently to determine which desktop platform to prioritise) and whether they would use Effect House for work or personal purposes.

Also, as VR technology becomes more affordable, companies like HTC and Sony are expanding their VR portfolios as well. Apple is also preparing to enter the market for the first time. In May of last year, it purchased the California-based startup NextVR. Pico is ByteDance’s first foray into the virtual reality sector, and the company is very excited about it. A corporate spokeswoman stated, “We are excited about the future of VR and its alignment with our goal.”