Meta Returns to China: Is Rectifying Wise?
Meta has announced its return to China after 14 years of having closed its social network, formerly known as Facebook, in the country due to censorship and restrictions by the Asian government. But Meta does not return with social networks, but with mixed reality glasses that aim to be the gateway to the metaverse, that immersive digital world that the company wants to build and lead.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Meta has reached an agreement with Tencent, the Chinese technology giant that owns WeChat, QQ and other popular digital platforms, to launch mixed reality glasses in China, which allow users to interact in a virtual environment. They are expected to hit the market next year and will be the first Meta product to be sold in China since the company stopped operating in the country in 2009.
Meta has stated that its goal is to connect people and create social experiences through the metaverse, a concept that refers to a shared and persistent digital space, where users can interact with others and with virtual objects, using different devices such as glasses. virtual reality, smartphones or computers. The metaverse is Meta's big bet, which some time ago also changed its name and image to reflect its new vision and mission.
China is the largest virtual reality market in the world, with more than 100 million potential users, if Meta manages to avoid mixing business with politics, it could be very successful. But the metaverse is not only a business opportunity for Meta, but also a political and regulatory challenge, since the government closely controls access to the internet and the information that circulates on the network. The country has shown its interest in developing its own version of the metaverse, which it links to its national security and digital sovereignty. To do this, it has organized the industry and established technical and ethical standards to regulate this new environment.
Meta will have to adapt to the rules and demands of the Chinese government if it wants to succeed in the largest and most competitive market in the world, where there are already local companies such as Tencent, Baidu or Alibaba that are investing and developing their own platforms and products related to the metaverse. In addition, it will also have to face the distrust of some Chinese users, who may view with suspicion the entry of an American company into a space as personal and intimate as the metaverse.
The obvious reality is that Meta has rectified its strategy in China and has decided to return to the country with a different product and an alliance with a local partner. This decision can be interpreted as a gesture of wisdom and pragmatism, which recognizes the importance and potential of China as an expanding market and as another engine of the world economy. It can also be considered a way to avoid mixing business with politics, and to focus on offering value and benefits to users, without entering into ideological or cultural conflicts.
It is still too early to know if the Meta return to China will be welcomed or rejected by the government and users, what is a fact is that the metaverse is an increasingly closer and more relevant reality, which poses opportunities and challenges for companies, governments and citizens. The metaverse is the future and Meta, without a doubt, wants to be part of it. Their return to the Asian giant is a risky move, but it could also be very profitable, if they are successful, which would go a long way to boosting the metaverse and making the company a world leader in this new technology.
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