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What happened: Imagine an ultra-futuristic landscape with high-speed spaceships flying through galaxies and a voice echoing in the background that says, “Welcome to the metaverse, we’ve been waiting a long time.” This is the opening of a video of the first virtual magazine, MO Magazine, co-launched by local media group, Huasheng Media and Alimama, Alibaba’s online technology platform. AYAYI, the virtual personality created by Alibaba, and the digital version of the famous Chinese actor, Jing Boran, serve as guides for users. The video garnered an impressive 400,000 views within two days of its release.

MO Magazine uses virtual reality to make the reading experience more interactive. Photo: MO Magazine

MO, which stands for Meta Origin, derives from the namesake of “more”, implying that more content and innovative experiences can be expected from the virtual magazine. In a stimulating way, the publication aims to pay attention to trends in fashion, business, art and technology.

The Jing plug: For centuries, print has been the main vehicle for transmitting information. Today, however, this new medium – in the form of a virtual magazine – replaces the conventional reading experience with an immersive VR environment, opening up endless possibilities for completely new content formats. Although the technology still needs to evolve a bit to be fully integrated into people’s lives as a new form of social media, the foreseeable future holds great potential, especially for luxury houses looking to explore new ways of to reach consumers, from live streaming fashion shows to interacting with web users in new and interactive ways to promote innovative brand campaigns.

Additionally, the initiative follows other local tech giants rushing to tap into the hottest trend of 2021 in China and beyond – the metaverse. While in the West Nike created Nikeland, initiatives like these are less likely to be exported to China due to China’s “internet firewall” barrier. In fact, the country is building its own blockchain and NFT infrastructure which differs in some ways from the rest of the world. Thus, brands have no choice but to rely on third-party platforms. This will potentially lead to the creation of a centralized metaverse site in China.

Recently, TikTok owner Bytedance launched metaverse social app Party Island, and local search engine Baidu created a virtual space for up to 100,000 users at a time. However, the partnership between Huasheng Media and Alimama, by introducing the first virtual magazine, takes their commitment even further. As such, China’s newly formed metaverse may just be the opportunity luxury has been dreaming of.

The Jing Plug reports on high-profile news and features our editorial team’s analysis of key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product declines and mergers to heated debates popping up on Chinese social media.

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