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ByteDance really, really wants a VR advantageINTL

ByteDance really, really wants a VR advantage

Nothing’s a secret for too long in tech, and VR is no different. With Facebook (FB) launching its VR app focused on simulating a real-life work environment, Snap’s (SNAP) long-running VR ‘Spectacles’ gear, and Apple’s (APPL) plans to release a VR device next year, ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) has gotten the hint that it might be time to get into the sector as well.

The company is currently in discussions to acquire Pico (not the Betsy Cohen one), a Chinese manufacturer of VR headsets. It’s way too early in the talks for there to be any figures around valuations — but also, with a recent crackdown by the Chinese government on local companies, things are more hush-hush than usual. After TikTok’s recent partnership with Shopify (SHOP), the expansion into VR might be another opportunity for ByteDance to build more functionality into its cash cow.

Pico’s target market extends globally, but with its Asian markets being mostly consumer-facing and Western markets being enterprise-driven. There have been issues in the past when it comes to Chinese tech in Western markets (and vice-versa), so it’s uncertain how exactly ByteDance adjusts Pico’s offerings post-deal. 

why it matters

Even though the main big tech players each have some sort of VR play, the projects are all far from being consumer-facing at this point. ByteDance recognizes how early VR is — and, therefore, the potential for larger gains in the future. Global spending on AR and VR is expected to increase by more than sixfold to $73b over the next four years.