Pico Neo 3 Link has been approved by the US FCC, despite its successor already launching elsewhere last year.
The FCC is the US regulatory agency with responsibility over wireless frequency use. Its approval is necessary to sell a device with wireless capabilities in the US market.
What's strange about this approval though is that Pico 3 Link was launched to European and Asian consumers in early 2022 as a consumer “beta program” ahead of the launch of Pico 4 later in the year. Pico had even tipped off Pico 4's imminent launch by offering a discount on it to Neo 3 Link buyers, and strongly hinting it would arrive within 12 months.
Pico 4 itself received FCC approval last year, and was reportedly supposed to launch in the US in March this year. But this was reportedly halted at the last minute due to the congressional hearings about possible Chinese government access to TikTok user data and influence over the content recommendation algorithm.
So why would ByteDance get US regulatory approval now for the predecessor?
Pico 4 is actually slightly cheaper than Neo 3 Link, and uses the same chipset, so this almost certainly isn't a case of offering a predecessor as an entry model like Meta plans to do with Quest 2 when Quest 3 launches. Pico could aim to sell to US businesses, as it already sells some headsets to businesses in North America. But Neo 3 Link is actually the consumer model of Pico Neo 3 Pro, which already launched to US businesses back in 2021 with a different FCC model.
Could Pico be planning to use Neo 3 Link as a US consumer beta program, as it did in Europe? And if so, could that mean it still plans to eventually launch Pico 4 in the US too?
That could finally bring direct competition to Meta's home market. But it would be facing off against Meta's twice as powerful Quest 3, so even at a lower price could struggle to attract consumers. And is ByteDance really willing to draw attention to itself while some US politicians explore banning TikTok?