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Worried About Big Tech? Chinese Giants Make America’s Look Tame

来源:纽约时报    2018-06-01 02:48

        BEIJING — Forget Google versus Facebook. Forget Uber versus Lyft. Forget Amazon versus … well, everybody.        北京——忘掉谷歌和Facebook之争吧。忘掉Uber和Lyft之争吧。忘掉亚马逊和……嗯,每个人的争夺吧。
        The technology world’s most bruising battle for supremacy is taking place in China. And it could point to Big Tech’s future everywhere else, too.        科技界对主导权最激烈的争夺正在中国展开。它也可能预示着其他地方科技巨头的未来。
        Tencent Holdings and the Alibaba Group are ratcheting up their no-holds-barred contest to dominate the ways 770 million internet users communicate, shop, get around, entertain themselves and even invest their savings and visit the doctor.        腾讯控股和阿里巴巴集团正在升级一场没有限制的竞争,主导7.7亿网民交流、购物、出行、娱乐,甚至投资储蓄、看病的方式。
        The two titans long ago branched out from their core businesses — games and social media for Tencent, e-commerce for Alibaba — to duke it out in ever more realms of Chinese life. They have competed in messaging, microblogging and delivering takeout. They go head-to-head in video streaming and cloud computing.        从很久以前起,这两大巨头的争斗就已经从自己的核心业务——腾讯是游戏和社交媒体,阿里巴巴是电子商务——扩展到了中国人生活的其他领域。他们在短信、微博和外卖领域展开了竞争。它们在视频流媒体和云计算领域针锋相对。
        Today, their fiercest fight is over digital money kept on smartphones. Mobile payments have transformed the Chinese economy. Both giants, plus Ant Financial, an Alibaba sister firm, are spending big to gobble up pieces of the action.        如今,它们争夺得最激烈的是智能手机上的数字货币。移动支付已经改变了中国的经济。这两大巨头,再加上阿里巴巴的姐妹公司蚂蚁金服,正在斥巨资吞下更多的份额。
        China’s internet powerhouses stand at the forefront of the nation’s galloping high-tech progress — a surge that has been brought into sharp focus by the Trump administration’s efforts to counter it. On one hand, the standoff over the Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE has exposed, to many in China, the degree to which the country still lags in core technologies such as microchips.        中国的互联网巨头站在该国飞速发展的高科技进步的前沿,特朗普政府为应对这一趋势所做的努力更是使其成为人们关注的焦点。一方面,中国电信设备制造商中兴通讯的僵局已经让很多中国人看到,中国在微芯片等核心技术方面依然非常落后。
        But in the internet realm, China still offers a spooky potential vision of the future, one in which online behemoths like Tencent and Alibaba become the gatekeepers to the entire economy, wielding immense power over traditional industries and becoming very, very rich in the process.        但在互联网领域,中国在未来依然拥有可怕的潜力,到那时,腾讯和阿里巴巴等互联网巨头将成为整个经济的看门人,对传统行业拥有巨大权力,并在这个过程中变得极其富有。
        At a conference in December in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, Tencent’s chief executive, Pony Ma, said he felt that the two companies were competing in “too many” areas.        去年12月,在中国广州的一次会议上,腾讯的首席执行官马化腾表示,他觉得这两家公司竞争的领域“太多了”。
        “Sometimes I think, ‘Ah, we’re competing in this now, too? All right then,’” Mr. Ma said, chuckling. “It’s a little frustrating.”        “有时候多到我可能每天想,‘啊,这个也竞争?啊,好吧,’”马化腾笑着说。“有时候是有一点困扰。”
        A duopoly this broad could not be easily replicated in the United States. Entrenched competitors and the threat of government intervention generally keep the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook from expanding pell-mell into adjacent businesses. All of them have sprawled and overlapped mightily, but Amazon, with its forays into groceries, pharmacies, health care and more, might be the furthest along toward creating an inescapable commercial universe.        如此广泛的双头垄断在美国很难轻松复制。根深蒂固的竞争者,加上政府干预的威胁,通常会导致苹果(Apple)、亚马逊、谷歌和Facebook等公司无法仓促地扩展到相邻的业务领域。所有这些公司都在不断扩张,业务高度重合,但随着亚马逊进军杂货店、药店和医疗保健等行业,它可能在创造谁都无法逃避的商业世界的道路上走得最远。
        Still, with the European Union enacting tough new privacy laws, and some in the United States eager to follow, Google and Facebook could soon be forced to find ways to make money beyond selling users’ personal information to advertisers, said Raj Rajgopal, president of digital business strategy at Virtusa Corporation, a consulting firm.        不过,咨询公司Virtusa Corporation负责数字商业策略的总裁拉杰·拉杰格帕尔(Raj Rajgopal)表示,随着欧盟制定严格的新隐私法,美国的某些州也渴望效仿,谷歌和Facebook可能很快会被迫寻找向广告商出售用户个人信息之外的其他盈利途径。
        “As profitability reduces, they’ll say, ‘Now I need to monetize my customer base,’” Mr. Rajgopal said. “The innovation we’re seeing in China could be seen in the U.S. in the next three to five years,” he added. “Customers are demanding that.”        “随着盈利能力下降,他们会说,‘现在,我需要利用客户群营利,’”拉杰格帕尔说。“我们在中国看到的创新,可能会在未来三到五年内出现在美国,”他还说,“客户在提出这样的要求”。
        China’s internet titans have a powerful ally found nowhere else, though: the Chinese government. Tencent and Alibaba have avoided antimonopoly clampdowns by staying in Beijing’s good graces, said Hu Wenyou, a partner at the Beijing law firm Yingke. Their sheer size also makes them easier for the authorities to control. They simply have too much to lose.        中国的互联网巨头拥有独一无二的强大盟友:中国政府。北京盈科律师事务所的合伙人胡文友表示,腾讯和阿里巴巴在北京庇护之下避免了反垄断的限制。它们庞大的规模有利于当局进行控制。它们有太多利益在里面了。
        “If you can become so big, and so successful in so many areas, this in itself shows that you must have maintained very good, very friendly relations with the government,” Mr. Hu said.        “如果你能做到这么大而且在众多领域都这么成功,这本身就说明了你肯定和政府的关系保持得很好、很融洽,”胡文友说。
        Neither giant is done getting bigger.        两个巨头都没有停止扩张。
        Each has a market capitalization of close to $500 billion, making them among the most highly valued technology firms on the planet. Google and Facebook still claim more users, but the Chinese heavyweights arguably do more — and more, and more — for theirs.        两家公司的市值都接近5000亿美元,使它们进入世界最具价值科技公司之列。谷歌和Facebook仍然拥有更多用户,但是中国的重量级公司似乎可以为用户做到更多——多了太多。
        They have both funded ventures that offer online education, make electric cars and rent out bicycles. For the giants, such initiatives represent new opportunities for people to use their digital wallets — Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay — and new ways to collect data on consumer behavior. Analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein counted 247 investment deals by Tencent in recent years and 156 by Alibaba, though given the pace of the companies’ deal-making, they said their database was “likely to be perennially incomplete.”        它们都在投资提供在线教育、生产电动汽车和租用自行车的企业。对于这些巨头来说,这些创举为人们使用它们的数字钱包——蚂蚁金服的支付宝和腾讯的微信支付——提供了新的机会,也令它们得到收集消费者行为数据的新方法。桑福德·C·伯恩斯坦(Sanford C. Bernstein)的分析师统计,腾讯近年来投资了247笔交易,阿里巴巴投资了156笔,但考虑到两家公司的交易速度,他们表示,他们的数据库“可能永远不会完整”。
        The latest battleground? Brick-and-mortar stores. Alibaba has spent great sums — $2.9 billion on a supermarket chain, $2.6 billion on a department store and mall operator — to conquer the real world. Tencent has followed suit with its own retail partnerships and investments. Walmart recently said it would no longer accept Alipay in its stores in western China, in a victory for Tencent.        最新的战场?实体店。阿里巴巴斥巨资以图征服现实世界,它向一个连锁超市投资29亿美元,向一个百货和购物中心运营商投资26亿美元。腾讯也随之发展自己的零售商合作与投资。沃尔玛最近表示,它在中国西部的商店将不再接受支付宝付款,这是腾讯取得的一个胜利。
        Once the companies have locked people into their payment systems, they can become the enablers of commerce and financial services of even more kinds. In a sign of investors’ excitement about the possibilities, Ant Financial is making plans to go public, in a blockbuster stock offering that could give the company a market value larger than Goldman Sachs’s.        一旦这些公司将人们锁定在它们的支付系统中,它们就可以成为更多类型的商业与金融服务的推动者。蚂蚁金服正在制定上市计划,推动一个可给公司带来比高盛(Goldman Sachs)的市值还高的大型股票发行,这是投资者对这种可能性感到兴奋的迹象。
        China has become a model for tech’s world-swallowing tendencies partly out of circumstance.        科技公司有吞噬一切的倾向,这种倾向部分是脱离环境的,中国已经成了这方面的典型。
        With the country’s high-speed churn of well-funded start-ups, planting flags on new turf is often the only way for large players not to be constantly losing ground.        资金充足的中国初创企业在高速运作,在新的地盘上圈地往往是大型操盘手保证自己不会经常失地的唯一途径。
        “The whole China internet market is way more competitive than the U.S. market,” said Xiaoyan Wang, an analyst at 86Research in Shanghai. “Everyone is trying to expand their presence in every sector.”        “整个中国互联网市场比美国市场更具竞争力,”八六研究(86Research)驻上海分析师王筱琰表示。“每个人都试图在各个领域扩大影响力。”
        Also, both Alibaba and Tencent have struggled to make much money outside their home market. That means their surest way to keep growing is to get more deeply involved in more areas of their Chinese users’ lives.        此外,阿里巴巴和腾讯都费了很大力气在本国市场以外赚更多钱。这意味着它们保持增长的最可靠方式是更深入地参与中国用户生活的更多领域。
        Those lives are riper for tech disruption than lives in the West. In China, small stores dominate retail. Hospitals are crowded and doctors overworked. Most people do not have credit cards. These are easier business opportunities for Alibaba and Tencent than they would be for Amazon or Facebook.        中国人的生活比西方人的生活更适合迎接科技的颠覆。在中国,小商店主宰零售领域。医院人满为患,医生超负荷工作。大多数人没有信用卡。这令阿里巴巴和腾讯比亚马逊或Facebook更容易获得商机。
        In a report this week, Morgan Stanley predicted that by 2027, the total market in China in which Alibaba could be making money will be worth $19 trillion — more than Amazon’s potential market worldwide.        在本周的一份报告中,摩根士丹利(Morgan Stanley)预测,到2027年,阿里巴巴可能赚钱的中国市场总值将达19万亿美元,超过亚马逊的全球潜在市场。
        At the moment, both Chinese giants are hustling to find more ways for people to transact using their wallet and not the other’s. Alibaba’s shopping sites and physical stores do not allow users to pay for stuff with WeChat. Tencent-backed companies, such as the retailer JD.com or the service platform Meituan-Dianping, either downplay Alipay as a payment option in their apps or do not accept it at all.        目前,两家中国巨头都在忙于寻找更多方式,让人们使用自己的数字钱包进行交易,而不是对方的钱包。阿里巴巴的购物网站和实体店不允许用户使用微信支付。腾讯支持的公司,如零售商京东或服务平台美团-大众点评,要么将支付宝作为其应用程序的次一等支付选择,要么根本不接受它。
        Whether any of this will give either camp an enduring lead in payments is unclear. Eric Wen, the founder of Blue Lotus Research Institute, expects them to end up at roughly 50-50.        这些举措是否会给两个阵营带来持久的领先优势,目前还不清楚。蓝莲花研究机构(Blue Lotus Research Institute)的创始人温天立预计,它们最终将大致打成平手。
        The payments contest will at least propel both companies to keep expanding their kingdoms, including overseas. Alibaba is pouring billions of dollars into online shopping ventures in India and Southeast Asia. Tencent is backing start-ups around the world that have even a distant chance of enriching its ecosystem.        支付竞赛至少会推动两家公司不断扩大它们的王国,包括海外。阿里巴巴正在向印度和东南亚的网上购物企业注资数十亿美元。世界各地的创业公司只要有一丝丰富其生态系的机会,腾讯就会投资。
        George Favvas did not know too much about Tencent before it invested in his company in San Francisco, Circle Medical, whose app lets users summon doctors on demand. He also had no specific plans to take his business to China in the near future, if ever.        乔治·法瓦斯(George Favvas)之前并不了解腾讯的情况,直到腾讯投资了他在旧金山的循环医疗(Circle Medical)公司,该公司的应用程序可让用户按需求召唤医生。同时他也没有近期内将业务拓展到中国的计划,也许永远不会。
        “My first question was, ‘Why are you interested in us?’” Mr. Favvas said.        “我的第一个问题是,‘你们为什么对我们感兴趣?’”法瓦斯说。
        He gets it now, he says. “They’re just such a big player, and health care is so broken,” Mr. Favvas said. Tencent, he added, is interested in health care for the same reasons companies like Amazon and Apple are.        他说,现在他明白了。“他们实在是太庞大的一个玩家,而医保系统又这么差劲,”法瓦斯说。他还说腾讯对医疗保健领域感兴趣的原因和亚马逊与苹果等公司是一样的。
        “If anything, they’re a couple of years ahead.”        “只不过,他们领先几年。”

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