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Mark Zuckerberg laid out a new direction for Facebook this week that shifts its focus from a sprawling series of social apps to a one-stop shop messaging service that combines everything the company has to offer. If there’s an analog to what Facebook is trying to build, it exists in the form of Tencent’s WeChat, the single largest social network in China. There are a number of key differences between the two products, but the ultimate goals look markedly similar: singular, all-purpose networks that can be leveraged to serve users all kinds of other services, from mobile payments to gaming to direct lines of contact to businesses.

马克•扎克伯格本周为Facebook 提出了一个新的方向,即将重点从一系列庞大的社交应用转向一站式即时通讯服务,该服务将 Facebook 所提供的一切都结合在一起。 如果有一个类似 Facebook 正在尝试建立的东西的话,那就是腾讯的微信,中国最大的单一社交网络。 这两种产品有许多关键的区别,但最终的目标看起来非常相似: 单一的、多功能的网络可以利用来为用户提供各种其他服务,从移动支付到游戏,再到与企业的直接联系。

The push to become more of a WeChat-like service has been a long time coming. Facebook has been constantly dogged by privacy violations due to its aggressively ad-fueled and feed-based approach to social networking, and in the US, it appears to be shedding younger users. A promised privacy-first approach to this messaging service would address Facebook’s immediate shortcomings, while the bundle of services could serve to further entrench every one of Facebook’s offerings.

推动Facebook 成为类似于微信的服务是一个漫长的过程。 Facebook一直受到侵犯隐私权行为的困扰,这是因为它在社交网络上采取了大量的广告宣传和基于feed 的方式。在美国,它的年轻用户似乎正在减少。 承诺对这种信息服务采取“隐私至上”的方法,将解决 Facebook 的短期缺陷,而捆绑的服务可能有助于进一步巩固 Facebook 的每一个产品。

Facebook’s ambitions to build a do-everything app platform for a global audience goes back years, beginning with its 2012 and 2014 acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, respectively. Since then, as Instagram and WhatsApp staved off competition from rivals, Messenger has shouldered a bulk of the responsibility in becoming Facebook’s would-be do-everything app platform.

Facebook为全球用户打造"无所不能"应用平台的雄心可以追溯到多年前,分别从2012年和2014年收购 Instagram和WhatsApp开始。 从那时起,随着 Instagram和WhatsApp 避开竞争对手,Messenger承担了大部分责任,成为Facebook 的"无所不能"应用平台。

In the ensuing half-decade of Messenger’s ongoing development, Facebook has bolted on gaming, AI chat bots, augmented reality camera features, mobile payments, and numerous other features that are designed to get you to treat Messenger like its own distinct and chat-focused mini-Facebook. In 2014, the company hired David Marcus — a hugely successful digital payments entrepreneur who oversaw PayPal’s strategic acquisition of Venmo parent company Braintree — to run Messenger, signaling Facebook’s ambitions to turn the platform into a service provider.

在接下来的五年中,Messenger 不断发展,Facebook 已经加入了游戏、 AI 聊天机器人、增强现实摄像头、移动支付以及其他众多功能,这些功能都是为了让你把 Messenger 当作自己独特的、专注于聊天的迷你Facebook。 2014年,该公司聘请了大卫•马库负责运营 Messenger。马库斯是一位非常成功的数字支付企业家,负责PayPal对 Venmo母公司 Braintree 的战略收购。这表明 Facebook 有意将该平台转变为服务提供商。

Now, with plans to bring private messaging front and center, Zuckerberg could finally create the version of WeChat that the world outside of China has thus far lacked. It could be large and scarily time-consuming, luring users to engage with the app for not group chats, but for style and products (Instagram) and news sharing (Facebook and WhatsApp). The Facebook mega app could extend into users’ daily lives for entertainment, news, and commerce.

现在,扎克伯格计划将私人信息放在首要位置,他终于可以创造出中国以外的世界迄今为止所欠缺的微信版本。 它可能规模庞大,耗时惊人,吸引用户使用该应用不仅是群聊,还为了风格和产品(Instagram)以及新闻分享(Facebook 和 WhatsApp)。 这个巨大的 Facebook应用程序可以延伸到用户的日常生活中,用于娱乐、新闻和商务。

But building that kind of sprawling, do-everything network is an immense challenge, and even WeChat has not done without a good deal of help and good luck. In China, it’s received government subsidies, and many of its rivals have been blocked from running: that includes Messenger since 2009, South Korea’s Line since 2015, and WhatsApp in 2017, significantly trimming down the competitive landscape.

但是构建这样一个庞大的、无所不包的网络是一个巨大的挑战,即使是微信,也需要大量的帮助和好运。 在中国,它得到了政府补贴,许多竞争对手也被禁止运营: 包括2009年以来的 Messenger,2015年以来的韩国 Line,以及2017年的 WhatsApp,这大大削弱了竞争格局。

Facebook will face other issues, though. Combining its apps is likely to concern the European Commission, which is regularly troubled by the behaviors of tech giants. The United States Congress, similarly, has questioned Facebook on whether it qualifies as a monopoly. Politically, the tide is turning against these kinds of mega tech companies. This morning, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) proposed breaking up tech giants, including Facebook as part of her presidential campaign platform.

不过,Facebook 将面临其它问题。 合并其应用程序可能会引起欧盟委员会的关注,该委员会经常受到科技巨头行为的困扰。 同样,美国国会也质疑Facebook 是否垄断。 政治上,潮流正在转向反对这类大型科技公司。 今天早上,伊莉莎白·华伦提议拆分包括 Facebook 在内的科技巨头,作为其总统竞选的一部分。

It’s also not guaranteed that a messaging-first approach will win over users. In China, it’s the older generations who favor using WeChat, giving the app a kind of dated reputation not too unlike Facebook’s among teens. If both apps don’t step it up, they could fall out of style as users grow older.

也不能保证消息优先的方法会赢得用户。 在中国,老一代人更喜欢使用微信,这给了这款应用一种过时的名声,就像Facebook 在青少年中的名声一样。 如果这两个应用程序不加以改进,随着用户年龄的增长,它们可能会逐渐过时。

After Zuckerberg laid out his plans for Facebook, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect, thanks to WeChat. We also can anticipate the obstacles a Facebook monster app would face: slowing user growth, a heavy reliance on ad revenue, and Western regulatory forces that would seek to rein it back in. It’s the ultimate story of merging cultures, as two (or more) apps combine so many features that they become nearly the same thing and risk losing what makes them so attractive in the first place. But Facebook has a chance to write its own story, if it can take lessons from where WeChat has stumbled.

在扎克伯格阐述了他对 Facebook 的计划之后,我们已经有了一个相当好的想法,多亏了微信。 我们也可以预见 Facebook 巨大的应用程序将面临的障碍: 用户增长放缓,对广告收入的严重依赖,以及西方监管力量试图控制它。 这是文化融合的终极故事,因为两个(或更多)应用程序结合了如此多的功能,以至于它们几乎变成了同一个东西,并且冒着失去它们最初吸引人之处的风险。 但如果Facebook 能从微信的失败中吸取教训,它就有机会写出自己的故事。