TikTok parent company ByteDance is acquiring Chinese virtual reality headset maker Pico. CNBC confirmed the news today after there were rumors and verified by Chinese last week publication new. ByteDance told CNBC in a statement that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the team’s talent and deep expertise, will support both our access to the VR space and our long-term investment in this emerging field,” ByteDance said. it was “optimistic about the future of VR and its alignment with our mission.”
Pico is known for its Neo range of standalone virtual reality headsets, most recently the Neo Peak 3. It is suitable for both consumer and professional customers, and a June IDC report estimates that Pico is the third largest maker of VR headsets, after Facebook subsidiary Oculus and the Chinese company DPVR. As the consumer-focused Neo 3 launches exclusively in Asia, Pico is slowly expanding its market, with the business-ready Neo 3 Pro and Neo 3 Pro Eye set for a North American and European release as well.
ByteDance is best known as a social app company, thanks to global juggernaut TikTok and China-based Douyin. However, as CNBC points out, it also acquired the most important mobile games studio Moonton in March. It also has hardware release experience, having launched a China-exclusive mobile phone, Jianguo Pro 3, in 2019.
It seems unlikely that the Pico acquisition will be combined with ByteDance’s TikTok service in the near future. It’s also not clear how the acquisition could affect Pico’s rollout plans. The company has so far avoided direct competition with Oculus, which dominates the global VR market but does not operate in China. But as Facebook intensifies its push towards VR, Apple is reportedly preparing to enter the market, and Sony is preparing a sequel to its PlayStation VR headset, ByteDance is indicating it’s also interested in the space.