September 23, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re taking a closer look at the Pico 4 — ByteDance’s new consumer VR headset — and the questions it raises about the company’s appetite to take on Meta.
ByteDance’s VR unit Pico unveiled its Pico 4 VR headset yesterday, which represents the company’s most significant push into the consumer VR market yet. Pico president Henry Zhou promised that the device would deliver “an immersive XR experience like nothing else out there,” and said that the company’s goal was to become “the leading XR platform.”
That’s a lot of words to say you want to beat Meta without outright saying you want to beat Meta. And judging from the specs alone, the Pico 4 appears to be a noteworthy Quest 2 competitor. But does the Chinese company really have what it takes to take on Zuckerberg and the many billions of dollars he’s investing in his vision of the metaverse?
The Pico 4 is everything the many leaks suggested it would be. It’s a stand-alone VR headset powered by a Qualcomm XR2 processor with 8GB of RAM and a display resolution of 2,160 by 2,160 pixels per eye. Specs-wise, it’s a step up from the Quest 2 on many fronts.
Of course, specs aren’t everything. After prioritizing enterprise VR for prior headsets, Pico tried to emphasize this week that this is very much a consumer product.
But there are still lots of open questions. The biggest one is around distribution: Is Pico actually serious about selling millions of these devices?
The Pico 4 looks like a solid foundation for ByteDance’s consumer VR ambitions. But ultimately, VR isn’t just about hardware. But it’s also about establishing an ecosystem that consumers are willing to buy into. That requires massive investments, as Meta’s multibillion-dollar metaverse gamble has shown. The real question is, does ByteDance have the stomach to give the Pico 4 a chance to succeed?
— Janko Roettgers
Software is changing payments and banks should care:Activities that once took place in person or over the phone—getting a loan, making a payment, investing in a security—now occur entirely within software. Covid has only accelerated this trend. To remain a part of clients' financial lives, banks need to play well with software.
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Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the Quest 2’s 128GB model sells for 449 euros, not dollars.