Linktone, China's leading wireless data service provider, and China Mobile Communications Corporation (CMCC) have launched the first Chinese New Year greeting service based on Short Messaging Services technology (SMS).
Within two days of launch the service had attracted more than 5,000 paying subscribers and Linktone marketing executives expect this number to increase sharply in the run-up to the Chinese New Year holiday.
"The greeting service demonstrates the enormous potential of SMS in China," said Linktone CEO Nick Zhang. "SMS usage here is rapidly catching up with other parts of the world."
European users send more than 7.5 billion SMS messages monthly, while in Japan the popularity of SMS has fueled the spectacular growth of i-mode, the wireless data service run by the country's largest mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo. SMS functionality is inherent in all mobile phones on the market and thus accessible to each of China Mobile's 60 million users.
Linktone demonstrated the commercial potential of SMS-based services in China last September by offering an Olympic Update service that allowed CMCC subscribers to receive live reports on the world's top sporting event via their mobile phones.
The company's Chinese New Year greeting service is closely modeled on the Olympic Updates, which attracted more than 100,000 subscribers during its two-week run.
Linktone's Chinese New Year greeting service is the first paid offering from the Monternet, CMCC's name for its package of wireless data services.
In a position paper released in November, CMCC defined a business model for China's wireless data services similar to the one used in Japan, where a dominant mobile operator earns revenues from data services and then shares those revenues with content, application, and service providers such as Linktone.
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