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A Chinese analyst who has been reliable in the past claims ByteDance plans to release Pico 4 globally in September.

The current Pico Neo 3 Link has remarkably similar specs to Meta’s Quest 2, but ByteDance described it as a ‘beta program” and only launched it in Europe. Three weeks ago a regulatory filing for ‘Pico 4’ and ‘Pico 4 Pro’ leaked, followed by apparent images of the controllers leaking.

An image in that filing appears to show pancake lenses, which enable a much shorter distance between the lenses and displays and thus a slimmer & lighter headset design.

In a note posted to WeChat, the analyst claims these pancake lenses and other “new technologies” make the production cost of Pico 4 much higher than Pico Neo 3, but suggests that ByteDance will “adopt a more aggressive subsidy strategy” to take on Quest 2.

Meta executives have said Quest 2’s $299 base price was subsidized – meaning sold for less than it costs to make – but the company recently announced a price hike to $399. That’s equivalent to Pico Neo 3 Link’s price – though Pico offers double the storage.

In June, Protocol spotted a job listing for head of consumer sales “responsible for the sales and marketing of Pico’s overall product in the US consumer market”, supporting the analyst’s claim of a global launch.

If ByteDance does launch a slimmer & lighter headset for a similar price as Quest 2, this could be the moment Meta finally faces serious competition. That’s a big “if” of course, but such a move would likely have broad implications for the market. Would Meta respond by accelerating plans for a Quest 3, for instance, or is the company too focused on the pricey Quest Pro?

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