Metaverse with hammer and sickle

The next big thing? Metaverse with hammer and sickle

By Henrik Bork

China doesn’t want to leave the next phase of the Internet to the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. This is why the party is fully involved when it comes to the metaverse.

suppliers on the subject

In a metaverse, you travel with an avatar. China wants to play a leading role in the development of virtual worlds.

The Metaverse train is rolling – and Chinese internet companies are jumping on board one after another. All of them invest heavily in the right hardware and software. Bytedance, the operator of short-form video platform Tiktok, has acquired Pico – a Chinese VR headset maker. And the party is already part of the party.

Chinese search engine company Baidu, which is in the process of finding a new identity for itself, is busy registering one Metaverse trademark after another. And the CEO of Chinese games company Netease said his company will “run faster than anyone else” in this race to create the next phase of the internet.

Never mind that all Chinese CEOs believe in the future of the metaverse as much as Mark Zuckerberg. The mere possibility that it really could be “the next big thing” is enough for the pragmatic Chinese. They make it clear that they don’t want to let anyone go on this train alone, neither Facebook nor the national competition.

Definition: what is the metaverse?

The youth of this metaverse hype is shown by the fact that a definition about it appears in almost every longer article. A lot of people are talking about the subject now. But many still don’t know what the Metaverse actually is.

Let’s try. The Metaverse is about merging the real world with the virtual world. A virtual space shared by several users can be a metaverse – for example a virtual meeting room in which our avatar, rather than our head, appears on the screen. A digital space extended by VR (Virtual Reality) or AR (Augmented Reality) technology can also be called a metaverse.

Chinese party officials pounce on Metaverse

There is not yet a universally valid definition, because “use cases” are emerging everywhere, which does not really facilitate categorization and abstraction. All the more astonishing is how quickly Chinese party officials in particular are diving into the subject of the metaverse.

The hammer and sickle were prominently displayed on the wall as a number of high-level apparatchiks gathered in a meeting room of the China Mobile Communications Association (CMCA) on November 11 to launch the “Committee of the Chinese metaverse industry. The CMCA proudly refers to the birth of its new organization as “Metaverse Day” on its website.

Wu Zongze: “Metaverse does not pass the hype”

One of the party cadres present was none other than Wu Zongze, a former vice minister of science and technology. The metaverse is not temporary hype, but a huge opportunity for China to finally seize technological leadership over the West at an early stage, Wu said.

In his own words, “The metaverse will surely become a weather vane for global technological development in the next decade, and will also be a new strategic height to occupy in the digital economy competition among all countries,” Wu said. Zongze. Even Mao Tsetung, the great military strategist, could not have expressed it better.

Proactive and pragmatic promotion of the Metaverse industry

China’s new metaverse committee has obviously been tasked by the highest ranks of the communist leadership in Beijing to promote an industry that in China, the electronic workbench of the world, will grow from a billion dollar industry to a very lucrative billion dollar industry. in a few years. Because many of the beautiful headsets for “intense and immersive experiences” are produced in the People’s Republic.

Pico, for example, which was just founded in 2015, already became the world’s third-largest headphone maker earlier this year after sales soared 108.6% year-on-year. So you’re already on the heels of Facebook’s Oculus headset.

The VR equipment market is expected to almost triple by 2023

In 2020, the Chinese VR equipment market reached a total value of 41.35 billion yuan (about 5.7 billion euros). Chinese market research firm CCID Consulting predicts it could reach more than 105 billion yuan (equivalent to 14.5 billion euros) by 2023.

China therefore has a very good chance of establishing itself as one of the main players in Metaverse poker from the start. Not only the proactive and pragmatic support of the Beijing government speaks for it, but also the technical framework. Nowhere are 5G base stations being installed as quickly as in China. There are more in Guangzhou alone than in all of Europe combined.

“Virtual reality is a technology that has the potential to fundamentally change people’s lives. And 2021 will be the year people remember the year it really took off,” quoted China Daily Alvin Graylin, general manager of VC device maker HTC China.

* Henrik Bork is an analyst at Asia Waypoint, a Beijing-based consulting firm specializing in the Chinese market.

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