TikTok owner ByteDance launched its Pico 4 VR headset in China on Tuesday, following its unveiling to the overseas market on Sept. 23, offering more exercise content and incorporating a number of entertainment deals with local partners. The Pico 4 has a price range in China of RMB 2,499 – RMB 3,799 ($352.76 – $536.27), based on different storage options (128 GB – 512 GB).

Why it matters: VR and AR devices are increasingly popular in consumer markets, but affordable, high-spec options in China remain scarce.

  • Meta’s Oculus dominates the market globally, but its services and content are inaccessible in China, giving Pico a huge advantage when it comes to building up local content.

Details: Pico will work with Chinese content providers to offer a range of services, including virtual concerts, exercise courses, and interactive narrative work.

  • There are three major Pico partnerships in the sports and exercise fields and the brand plans to release over 50 related apps. Pico will work with a Shenzhen-based startup, Supermonkey, to bring users customized exercise classes in virtual reality. The brand has also revealed a partnership with notable fitness coach Pamela Reif for fat-burning plans, which it said will not require extra equipment.
  • Pico also has a new app named Chao Ran Yi Ke, with over 500 minutes of workout classes in three intensity levels.
  • Ling Cage (Ling Long, in Chinese), a popular sci-fi animation series produced by YHKT Entertainment and Bilibili, will have a VR version available on Pico’s devices. Users will be able to play as the main character from the show, exploring the story in an immersive way.
  • Pico has also reached agreements with the copyright owner of The Three-Body Problem, the famous sci-fi novel written by Liu Cixin, to bring an interactive narrative work to its platform based on Liu’s work.
  • Moreover, Pico has revealed two virtual concerts coming this year. One is for ByteDance-backed virtual idol group A-Soul in November. Another is a Mandarin-language singer whose virtual concert will be held by the end of this year, but the firm has yet to reveal the artist’s name. According to Pico, the concert will feature a Chinese fantasy style mixed with retro disco elements.

Context: Pico has been working with partners in the content industry to enrich the experience of its devices. The firm launched Pico Video in March with an in-depth partnership with over 30 VR video-creating firms and major Chinese streaming platforms.

  • Pico has so far hosted three VR concerts this year with famous artists, including Elvis Wang, Michael Zhen, and Wang Feng.
  • ByteDance acquired the firm last year at a cost of RMB 9 billion ($1.27 billion). The company has since expanded aggressively, with employee headcount growing from 300 to over 1,000 (in Chinese), and 70%-80% of the workforce engaged in development and research, according to Chinese media outlet 36Kr.

Ward Zhou

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a]technode.com or Twitter @zhounanyu.