TikTok’s parent company acquires VR headset maker Pico

TikTok parent company ByteDance is acquiring Chinese virtual reality headset maker Pico. CNBC confirmed the news today after it was rumored last week and verified by Chinese publication Nweon. ByteDance told CNBC in a statement that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field,” saying it was “optimistic about the future of VR and its alignment with our mission.”

Pico is known for its Neo lineup of standalone virtual reality headsets, most recently the Pico Neo 3. It caters to both consumer and professional customers, and a June IDC report estimates that Pico is the third largest maker of VR headsets, following Facebook subsidiary Oculus and Chinese company DPVR. While the consumer-focused Neo 3 launched 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 known primarily as a social app company, thanks to global juggernaut TikTok and China-based Douyin. As CNBC notes, however, it also acquired the major mobile games studio Moonton in March. It’s got experience releasing hardware as well, having launched a China-exclusive mobile phone called the Jianguo Pro 3 in 2019.

The Pico acquisition seems unlikely to mix with ByteDance’s TikTok service in the near future. It’s also not clear how the acquisition might affect Pico’s rollout plans. The company has so far avoided direct competition with Oculus — which dominates the global VR market but doesn’t operate within China. But with Facebook intensifying its push into VR, Apple reportedly preparing to enter the market, and Sony preparing a follow-up to its PlayStation VR headset, ByteDance is signaling that it’s also interested in the space.

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