Is the virtual reality (VR) era really here? The much-anticipated PICO 4 is finally available in the Chinese market.
On September 27, PICO officially released a new generation of VR all-in-one machines in the Chinese market, the PICO 4 series, priced from 2499 yuan. This is the first time that PICO has released an upgraded product since it was acquired by ByteDance.
In September last year, Byte officially announced the acquisition of PICO, a high-profile entry into the VR industry, and this new product release is also highly anticipated. “When ByteDance is doing VR and AR (augmented reality), we adhere to long-termism and do things step by step.” After the press conference, in an interview with The Paper, PICO President Zhou Hongwei said. “PICO 4 integrates the past capabilities and technology accumulation, and also integrates the investment in talents, technology, and content of Byte in the past year. It is a product that truly opens up the global market.”
As the leading VR platform in China, the release of PICO 4 is also seen as a strong challenge to Meta’s Quest. In this regard, Zhou Hongwei said frankly to The Paper: “As for the topic of competition, objectively speaking, the current VR market is still in a very early stage, and the future market space is very large. It is actually too early to talk about competition. The current environment is not The problem of your life and death is the problem of your life and my life.”
At the press conference in Qingdao, The Paper reporters personally experienced PICO 4. Through the handle, they can simulate the touch of fitness and shooting, and they can also experience the use of VR to do chemical experiments, simulate kitchens, gas stations, forests and other training environments. Its sensitivity and immersion It feels close to the real world. Behind the release of PICO 4 is ByteDance’s grand vision to “popularize” VR.
Speaking of the PICO 4 sales forecast released this time, Zhou Hongwei gave the figure: more than 1 million units.
“I’ve been in the consumer electronics industry for a long time, and I think it’s amazing that a product can sell more than 1 million, which means it has a certain popularity. Through PICO 4, the overall product experience, crowd positioning, pricing , we believe it will sell more than 1 million.”
However, he also mentioned that the VR industry still has a long way to go before it truly explodes and becomes a mass market. But Byte’s entry into the VR industry is “long-termism”: “We firmly believe and continue to invest from beginning to end. Only with long-term investment can we have the opportunity to achieve a popular explosion.”
“When the user scale is small, the cost of spreading to a single user is very high.” Regarding PICO’s profit model, Yang Zhenyuan, vice president of ByteDance, admitted that it will take time. “When one day we expand the market size and the content ecology becomes more mature, it may be clearer when we talk about the profit model at that time.”
In terms of price, according to the press conference, the 8+128G version of PICO 4 is 2499 yuan, the 8+256G version is 2799 yuan, and the PICO 4 Pro 512G with eye and face tracking capabilities is 3799 yuan.
From the perspective of pricing, PICO’s new products have not increased in price. The price of the domestic 128GB version of PICO 4 is the same as the price of the basic version of PICO Neo 3 128GB a year ago, which is 200 yuan lower than that of the pioneer version, and the price of the 256GB version is also 200 yuan lower than that of the PICO Neo 3 256GB pioneer version. In Europe, the price of the PICO 4 two-capacity product is 20/50 euros cheaper than the Quest 2 of the same capacity. In contrast, at the end of July, Meta announced that it would increase the price of the entire Quest 2 series by $100.
However, this year’s PICO 4 release canceled the once-popular “half-price check-in” activity. In this regard, Zhou Hongwei explained that half-price check-in is not a price action, but a way to educate and reach users early, in order to allow more Users know and love VR. “The pricing of PICO 4 is sincere and I am very confident about it.”
The on-site executives were cautious about linking PICO to the concept of a “metaverse” that the outside world focused on. “Actually, until today, I haven’t figured out what the metaverse means, and I can’t see the relevant layout.” Yang Zhenyuan said frankly, he mentioned that Byte is more focused on new interactive forms such as VR, which will revolve around products, technology, and even the content ecology to improve the experience.
PICO 4 specific parameters
Talking about content ecology: try self-developed games, VR version of “Three-Body Problem” interactive narrative work will be launched next year
Regarding the difference between Meta’s Quest and PICO, the general opinion in the industry is that PICO is not far behind in terms of hardware and cost-effectiveness, and the main gap is reflected in the content ecology.
From the hardware point of view, PICO 4 uses a single-piece Pancake lens, with a single 2.56-inch screen to achieve a 105-degree field of view. The weight of the whole machine is 586g (including straps), which is 36g lighter than Neo3. Zhou Hongwei mentioned at the scene that PICO 4 is “as light as a can of soda”.
At the press conference, ByteDance executives also focused on responding to questions about the PICO content ecology and self-developed games. “VR really goes to a wider mass market, and in essence, it still depends on the content and the experience brought by the content. But only if you have your own understanding and ability, and integrate hardware and OS experience, you will have the opportunity to explore better products. .” Zhou Hongwei said frankly. “Objectively speaking, the investment goal of PICO’s self-developed games will not be very large, but it will continue to explore.”
He revealed that at present, the PICO team has gathered many talents from top production companies at home and abroad, such as Unity, Unreal, etc., mainly responsible for the development of the underlying engine technology, as well as game producers from Ohayoo (the original game team of Byte).
“The purpose of our self-made content team is to better understand the needs of users in addition to hardware and systems.” Zhou Hongwei said, but stressed that he would not make a blind comparison with Meta. “The construction of content does not happen overnight. The output of high-quality content basically takes 12 months, and the production cycle of particularly good content may take 18 to 24 months. Compared with competition, we pay more attention to the benefits of PICO products to users. What an experience.”
Ren Lifeng, vice president of PICO, admitted that the current content ecology of PICO 4 “still has a lot of room to work on.” For example, he said that the annual output of traditional long video in the domestic market can reach 50,000 hours, but the annual new production capacity of high-quality VR video is less than 20 hours, and the industry’s production capacity has not been widely stimulated and produced on a large scale.
“As a platform side, we hope to invest more resources and technologies to help developers and creators, so that they can invest more in VR content.” Ren Lifeng said.
At this conference, PICO also brought new content. For example, it announced that it will cooperate with the Three-Body Problem to jointly produce the first VR version of “Three-Body Problem” interactive narrative work, which will be launched next year. It is worth noting that Zhou Hongwei also revealed that PICO and Byte are also focusing on the integration of augmented reality (AR) and VR, and may launch some products in stages, but they are still in the exploration stage.
Talking about the integration of PICO into Bytes: I have been in contact with many companies, and the two sides “get it right”
Byte has previously announced the acquisition of PICO, but has never disclosed the details behind it, and also responded at this press conference.
Yang Zhenyuan revealed that ByteDance had contacted many companies in the VR industry, and had the best conversation with PICO. He also believed that PICO was the company with the most potential and the most culturally matched company. “At that time, everyone hit it off, and PICO joined Byte.”
He believes that AR and VR represent a differentiated form of interaction, which is related to ByteDance’s main business: content creation platform. In the past year, with the support of Byte, the size of the entire PICO team has expanded several times, and now it has more than 1,000 people. At the same time, it has also received technical help. However, he also admitted that “commercially, PICO is definitely not the focus of contributing revenue to the company at this stage.”
In the future, combined with the original content advantages of Byte, PICO will promote more exploration, including program-oriented content, such as concerts, live broadcasts, etc.; script-oriented content, including VR short films, IP cooperation VR videos; and Pure virtual content and so on. At present, PICO has reached a cooperation with A-Soul to upgrade and adapt the original PC and mobile content to VR, so that users can interact with virtual idols immersively and at close range in VR. In addition, PICO will also Consider cooperating with Douyin to open panoramic VR live broadcast.
“We will officially open the road to the popularization of VR in China through PICO 4, and bring new product experience and content ecology to more users. Perhaps PICO 4 is the first VR for many users.” Zhou Hongwei described the future market of PICO planning.Return to Sohu, see more