Metaverse in China: a boss affair | Telepolis

Chinese planning authorities are addressing the issue quickly and seriously. Virtual reality counts as a key industry. The country has a good chance of dominating the global XR (augmented reality) industry.

2021 was the year of the Metaverse, after Facebook changed its name to Meta, the term was on everyone’s lips. It is not known at all what the metaverse really is, the term is as vague as “cyberspace” or “Internet”. AI pioneer Marvin Minski would probably have called it a “suitcase word,” meaning a term that can have many different meanings.

China was also in Metaverse fever in 2021. Search engine giant Baidu held its annual developer conference for Christmas 2021 in a virtual stadium powered by Baidu’s metaverse app, Xirang. According to Baidu, it was the first Metaverse conference in China so far, which could be attended by up to 100,000 people.

disillusionment

Barely a year later, the hangover seems to be following the hype: Meta has burned $10 billion in the meantime, the stock market valuation has halved, and the group then quickly cut 11,000 jobs.

In addition to the still rough appearance, lack of business models and missing user base, competition between competing social media platforms, the success of TikTok, but also Apple’s stricter rules for advertising targeted in its ecosystem should play a role.

Not only did Meta disappoint, but Baidu’s Metaverse platform Xirang also fell short of expectations and is currently on hiatus, reports China Blog theprojectchina. Other Chinese companies are also reducing their Metaverse commitment.

TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, shut down its Metaverse Party Island social app, and gaming company NetEase shut down its Metaverse multiplayer games department. Already during the Christmas 2021 presentation, Baidu Vice President Ma Jie toned down excessive expectations; as with Meta, the development time was five to seven years.

Chinese leaders have declared the metaverse a top priority

The big difference with the United States, however, is that in China the authorities carefully monitor and control developments. China’s leading business newspaper recently warned against “feverishly” jumping on the Metaverse bandwagon.

An article in the Economic Dailya journal published by the State Council and overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department, suggested “caution when expanding into the metaverse industry”.

However, this is in the context of a serious commitment to the industry. More than 30 local authorities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Hainan and others, have already issued guidelines to support Metaverse development. More than 18 industrial parks focused on Metaverse applications have been established.

Using the example of XR technologies, one of the core technologies of the metaverse, it becomes clear how quickly and seriously Chinese planning authorities are approaching the subject. XR includes hardware and software capable of representing both virtual reality (VR, an immersive and interactive first-person simulated environment) and augmented reality (AR, immersive and interactive virtual content spatially linked to the real world).

While the government is supporting the industry, a senior official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) speaking at the country’s annual virtual reality conference in early November said volumes of fundraising and investment in China’s virtual reality industry has entered a period of explosive growth. authorities.

Since 2021, virtual reality has officially been one of the seven “key industries of the digital economy” that Beijing designated last year. Investments in virtual reality doubled in China in 2021.

The ministry and four other agencies released a policy that will help China become a “powerhouse in manufacturing, cyberspace, culture and digital economy”, the document said.

By 2026, China aims to boost output in its VR industry to 350 billion yuan ($50 billion) – six times the previous year – with sales of VR devices topping 25 million units.

That’s significantly more than last year’s shipments of 3.7 million units, the Hong Kong-based English-language publication reports. South China Morning Post. The newspaper, owned by the Alibaba Group, is considered the voice of tech entrepreneurs in China.

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