Well, seems the deal went through! Right now, its still a rumor, but let say the ByteDance Pico deal goes through. What does that mean for the AR / VR space?

Currently the consumer VR space is pretty much dominated by Facebook with the Oculus Quest. A very good device, lots of content, very affordable price. With the release of Workrooms, we are seeing a slide into the soft enterprise space. (more on Workrooms later). Ok, so why is TikTok and Pico so interesting?

TikTok has followed both FB and Snap by offering an AR development platform. Snap has already released a dev version of AR glasses that can take advantage of their AR platform. And remember, they bought WaveOptics as well, so clearly they are committed to creating an AR device in the near term. What is interesting is that they are positioned to be the first AR glasses company to sell in large numbers give Snaps reach. Although I’m certain FB will come out with consumer level AR glasses very soon, they do not have the same penetration that Snap has for user AR content creation. Given TikToks current reach on in the user creative space, it would not be hard to imagine ByteDance is looking to compete directly with Snap. And the two of them need to move fast to buffer FB’s AR ambitions.

So how does Pico play into this? ByteDance recently bought a gaming studio to help bolster their content pool, but I think this will mostly be for the Chinese market, VR is pretty much owned by FB right now. However, if ByteDance wanted to create AR light glasses somewhat like Snap, Nreal, and Lenovo, this would be a step in the right direction. I would not be surprised to see a follow up acquisition of Nreal, or failing that, MadGaze.

This gives ByteDance quite a bit power in the Chinese market.

  • Continue to expand the VR Consumer space in China perhaps with more gaming studio acquisitions.
  • Support AR pass-through and copy FB Workrooms to create a Chinese version. Remember Pico using the same X2 chip Quest uses, so its doable.
  • Create a set of AR glasses, either through acquisition or other work that Pico has been doing that we do not know about.
  • Leverage TikTok popularity to compete with Snap and soon FB in the western market for consumer AR.

So what is missing?

Right now, both Snap and perhaps ByteDance still have a content issue. Yes, AR filters are very popular, but that will not be enough to sustain interest. To succeed they need access to the consumers phone which offers FAR more content than any one walled garden can ever create. To do this they need to figure out how to take mobile 2D content and display and interact with it on the XR device. This is why I wrote about Samsung Dex for AR-lite in the past. But guess who else has a Dex like experience? Huawei.

I’m calling this now. Watch for a future agreement between ByteDance and Huawie for a mobile based desktop experience that works in both VR and AR.

Also watch for further moves by ByteDance to implement AR glasses. Its getting closer … perhaps 2023 is when we will see the first major plays into consumer AR.