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Pico 5 Reportedly Canceled As ByteDance Shifts Focus To Further Out Apple Vision Pro Competitor

Pico 5 Reportedly Canceled As ByteDance Shifts Focus To Further Out Apple Vision Pro Competitor

Pico 5 has reportedly been canceled.

The Information's Juro Osawa reports today that the decision was made because Pico 4 sales "fell far short of ByteDance’s expectations".

Pico does plan to release a refreshed version of Pico 4 however, Osawa writes, but he doesn't give any detail of what changes this new model will bring.

ByteDance's main hardware focus now is the development of a high-end Apple Vision Pro competitor incorporating "cutting-edge technologies", a project which Osawa reports is codenamed Swan. This Swan project is "still largely experimental and conceptual" though, Osawa writes, and there's no clear timeline for it to become an actual product.

ByteDance: Pico Will Have ‘Top-Notch Services’ After Layoffs
We put big questions to TikTok-owner ByteDance about the future of its Pico headset business. They replied, but we don’t have clear answers.

Last month ByteDance laid off a significant portion of Pico's staff and transferred others to other jobs within ByteDance. Osawa reports today that around 400 were laid off and 600 transferred, bringing Pico's total headcount down by almost 60%, from 1800 to 800.

Many of these layoffs took place in Pico's VR content teams. As part of this "restructuring", Pico canceled its in-development Beat Saber competitor and handed off what would have been its first major exclusive, Ubisoft's Just Dance VR, to an undisclosed new partner.

Major apps have continued to arrive on Pico 4 since these layoffs, including VRChat, YouTube VR, and Arizona Sunshine 2, but the contracts behind these had likely been set in stone many months in advance.

When asked by UploadVR about the status of the Pico platform, ByteDance told us it will "continue to operate normally and provide its users with top-notch services." But it declined to answer specific questions, such as whether a new headset with the XR2 Gen 2 chipset was on the horizon.

If The Information's reporting today is accurate, it's clear ByteDance is pivoting from short-term competition with Meta in VR gaming to a longer-term strategy of competing with Apple in general "spatial computing". The coming Pico 4 refresh was likely long in development and relatively low cost to take past the finish line to compete with Quest 3 Lite. Don’t expect the level of VR gaming content you would from Meta, however, as ByteDance's content investment is likely to be smaller than it was for Pico 4.

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