TikTok owner ByteDance has no plans to shut down its virtual reality (VR) business Pico, insisting it remains focused on the technology.
ByteDance’s announcement comes after multiple reports that the China-based company plans to shut down its VR brand.
In a statement provided to ReutersA ByteDance spokesperson said, “The reports that Pico will be closed are not true.”
“Pico is operating as usual and the company will continue to invest in its extended reality (XR) business for the long term.”
The Pico headset, the company’s answer to Meta’s Quest headset, accounts for 58% of China’s VR market. Meta has not yet started selling its hardware in the country.
In February, it was reported that Pico had laid off more than 200 employees.
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The VR company was acquired by ByteDance in August 2021, at the height of the Metaverse buzz, just a month before Facebook rebranded it to Meta.
However, interest in the Metaverse and its related technologies declined dramatically in 2022.
according to Research company Global Datathe value of VR and AR venture financing, acquisition, and stock offering transactions peaked in 2021.
In 2021, VR and AR transactions totaled $3.5 billion globally. In 2022, the size of this technology has significantly decreased to just over $2 billion.
Total VR and AR deals in 2023 so far are $834 million, a significant decrease from the previous year.
Meta stock has fallen victim to the Metaverse winter since its all-time high in 2021, losing nearly 60% of its value between September 2021 and October 2022, according to GlobalData.
Since October 2022, prices have been slowly rising to near previous highs.
Despite signs that Zuckerberg’s metaverse is slowly recovering, artificial intelligence (AI) is stealing most of the excitement and funding from it.
Recent GlobalData Technology sentiment research showed a significant lack of confidence in the Metaverse, with 59% of respondents feeling that the Metaverse is all hype and no substance.
Only 6% of respondents believed that Metaverse technology could achieve their expectations.
GlobalData defines a metaverse as a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has remained an ardent evangelist of the Metaverse throughout the collapse, allocating $21 billion to Meta’s VR/AR research project Reality Labs since last year.