Topics Discussed and Key Points:
● China’s consumer PC market in the early-to-mid-90s
● Why many companies struggled in the 90s while Intel thrived
● Building the Chinese social networking app Guanxi in the early-2010s
● Co-founding mInfo, the official mobile search provider to the Beijing Olympics in 2008
● What internet marketing looked like 20 years ago and the impact of mobile in the 2000s
● The early days of eCommerce and the reasons for its dramatic growth
● What foreign VR companies should do to localize for the Chinese market
● How VR is perceived in China versus the West and why it took a long time to take off
● Where the world of VR will be in five to ten years
● What Alvin means by: “The metaverse will expand—not replace—the internet.”
Today on The Negotiation, we talk with Alvin Wang Graylin, China President at HTC. Established in 1997, HTC is an award-winning developer of smart mobile, connected technology, and virtual reality products.
Alvin is also the Vice President of the Industry of Virtual Reality Alliance (IVRA) and the President of the Virtual Reality Venture Capital Alliance (VRVCA)
He has almost three decades of business management experience in the tech industry, including 20 years in Greater China beginning with a Senior Management position at Intel in 1993. Prior to HTC, Alvin was a serial entrepreneur, having founded four venture-backed startups in the mobile and internet spaces, covering mobile social, adtech, search, AI, big data and digital media. Additionally, he has held $100+ million P&L roles at a number of public companies.
Today, Alvin is a sought-after speaker and thought leader on the topics of VR/AR/AI in China and globally.
According to Alvin, the key consideration of the Chinese government when scrutinizing foreign companies is the potential for technology transfer. It is a tit-for-tat attitude that Intel was able to abide by, resulting in a collaboration that allowed Intel to thrive while most other foreign consumer PC brands of the time failed to penetrate the market.
Alvin looks back on an early career in the Chinese tech space where innovation was rampant, including his experience building the Chinese social networking app Guanxi in the early-2010s, as well as co-founding mInfo, the official mobile search provider to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Finally, Alvin discusses his current role at HTC developing smart mobile and VR products. “In every area of this industry,” he says, “there is innovation happening.” The common thread tying these innovations together is the ever-blurring line between distinct features that make up many of today’s devices. In the near future, Alvin foresees smart mobile devices for both personal and business uses, incorporating both VR and AR technologies.
Alvin concludes: “Anybody at any age can put on these devices and behave as they do in the real world.”
“There were tons of consumers out there, but how could we get them into this new internet and multimedia trend that’s starting to happen? One was getting the prices way down. Two was helping to take all this global content and localizing it. And three was creating low-end consumer channels that were able to reach out to all the different Tier 2, 3, 4, 5 cities that didn’t have access to computer stores at all.”
“COVID has really accelerated the interest in the VR industry because people are now recognizing that you’re able to be productive and eliminate a lot of business travel. But having a video-only interaction doesn’t feel personal enough; so, VR is a good alternative to help enhance that sense of being together.”
“The old internet—the 2D internet—does not go away. I actually see the Metaverse as, essentially, the internet of today expanded to interact with 3D content, and uses an immersive device—like an AR or VR device—to experience this 3D content. But at the same time, these 3D devices can be used to experience 2D content. [...] This Metaverse needs to be something that’s completely open, that anybody can get into through any device, and it needs to be at global standards to be operable across different countries and different operating systems.”