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3G applications tapping market potential
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2009-07-30 09:53

By Chen Jing


Inviting bids, building the network, releasing the numbers for commercial use, competing in the technology and service, distributing terminals, reducing charges and broadening the market ... a chain of these market activities are going in an orderly manner during six months just like the automated assembly line. 3G has blown the most powerful "Assembly Clarion" in the current communication industry. But people soon discovered that it seems too easy to compare 3G to a "big cake" that is worth trillions of dollars and can be shared casually, actually this communication industry chain consisting of network building, terminal equipments manufacturing, operation service and information content service looks more like the domino, only when the first one of which is pushed down, can the other segments in this industry chain have the opportunity to grow explosively.

However which one is the first domino? People in this industry build their hope on the "Killer Application". As the short messages have ever promoted the development of the whole mobile phone value-added services in the 2G age, only the unique and irreplaceable application business can bring the new consuming experience to the consumers in the 3G age. And these application business and more terminal products supply combining with the lower charge threshold have become the core force driving consumers from 2G to 3G.

Gradually Lowering Down the Threshold for Use

Compared with the 2G network, the rich data value-added service is undoubtedly the most prominent advantage of 3G. But whether video phone or mobile commerce, 3G value-added business are restricted by two premises: terminals and charges. Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer of Academy of Telecommunication Research under Ministry of Industry and Information Technology pointed out that only when the thresholds of the above two premises are lowered down, can the promotion for the value-added service of 3G data have a solid foundation.

The current market activities of three major operators are confirming this judgement. In the field of mobile phone terminal, the middle and low end 3G mobile phones begin to appear in a large scale. On July 3, China Telecom said they have started to purchase 3.6 million 3G mobile phones costing below RMB1, 000 yuan. While in another terminal direction, "Netbook plus Express Card" has been regarded as the breakthrough for the bundling sales of 3G data business. Since April, three major operators have announced in succession that they will group purchase 3G netbooks and sell to the consumers after giving them cash allowance. Take China Mobile's "G3 series" laptops as example, the maximal allowance amount for each netbook of famous brands like HP, Lenovo and Dell etc. has reached RMB2, 100 yuan.

As for the charges, the threshold for the data business is lowering down continuously. On June 22, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and National Development and Reform Commission officially released "Notice on Implementing the Market Regulation Price for the Mobile Video Phone" in which they agreed to implement the market regulation price for the domestic 3G video phone business. Professor Zeng Jianqiu from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications said after implementing the market regulation price, the charges of the video phone can quickly lower down probably. Besides, the operators are encouraging the consumers to "taste" 3G data business by the way of preferential charges. Beijing Telecom even launched a daily-charged 3G internet package service, just RMB0.5 yuan per day can allow consumers to use 3M data flow which is only one thirtieth of that charged by the data flow.

Application Changes with the Demands

"Currently, the main applications of wireless internet are the entertainments including the music, games and video, the practical applications are quite few." Yang Xianghua, Deputy General Manager of Sohu Wireless Business Unit said. Wang Jianwen, Deputy Director General of Telecommunication Management Bureau under Ministry of Industry and Information Technology also said a few days ago, currently the structure of the value-added services is single. Among nearly 20 thousand value-added providers, the information service companies being engaged in the mass entertainment and consumption amount to nearly 18 thousand accounting for 90 percent.

The consumption and entertainment are the major businesses of the mobile value-added service providers in China in 2G age, therefore, the key lies in the realization of the "functions which can't been completed by 2G" in order to promote 3G application. After deciding the general direction of the data value-added business, the personal 3G application in China is going through a shift from the entertainment to the practical application.

Compared with the traditional mobile value-added service providers, the internet service providers have more rapid response to this tendency, the travel service, location service, e-commerce and other functions are becoming their latest attempt to join in 3G industry chain. Several major portal websites have launched the mobile phone map in succession, while in the aspect of e-commerce, Co., Ltd., China's leading independent third-party payment platform whose current users have broken through 200 million also begins to try the wireless payment. Users can realize such commonly used functions as on-line purchase, payment and enquiry of account balance and transaction details by the mobile phone.

Seek for the New Fields by Innovation

From the fashion to the practical application, the advertisements change of "e surfing", China Telecom's 3G brand best indicates this tendency. In the first advertisement with the movie star as the image representative, 3G was defined as one very "fashionable" consuming way, however, the second advertisement with Ding Lei, Netease CEO and Eric Johnson, MSN's president in China and other "internet heroes" as the image representatives, the core appeal has become that using 3G is one kind of advanced mobile business experience.

At the same time, the prospect of 3G application for the enterprises is even more expected. China's enterprise management software providers such as UFIDA and Kingdee recently have one by one launched their products related to 3G after its commercial use. By the platform of 3G, users can use the wireless mobile e-mail, mobile data service and other 3G functions. Whether working at another location or during the business trip, users can get the relative information that they concern. In the 2G age, the users can only receive various information from the system of ERP by mobile phone, with the interactive ability is enhanced greatly in the 3G age, users can operate ERP initiatively and complete the advanced operations such as mobile approval and make the management instructions. The integration of 3G with e-government, finance, manufacturing industry, education, health care and other industries will guarantee the "Integration of Industrialization and Informatization". 
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