8888 8888 mobile no. coming up for
If you're thinking of grabbing that magical mobile
phone number '8888 8888', expect to pay a five-figure sum, or more, if
history is anything to go by.
The IDA announced that it would be issuing new
phone numbers beginning with the digit '8' to mobile phone operators by end
March 2004. '8' is considered an auspicious number in Chinese numerology.
The government is opening up this new series
because the existing series with the number 9 is close to saturation with
about 10 million numbers issued out.
Telcos can only assign the last four digits of a
mobile number as the first four digits are assigned to the telcos by the
This of course leaves the burning question: which
of the three operators would get the potentially lucrative block of '8888'?
'Based on our extrapolations, we do not think we
will get to the '8888' block anytime in the near future,' an IDA
spokesperson said. 'We do agree that this is a very valuable number to
receive, and we are currently in the planning stages of how, when we do get
to that number, to allocate it to the operators.'
To put things in perspective, Singaporeans have
been known to spend more than $100,000 on auspicious car licence-plate
numbers, and if car numbers are anything to go by, a mobile phone number
with eight '8s' is likely to cost at least tens of thousands of dollars.
A Voice of America report last August said Sichuan
Airlines Company in China paid 2.3 million yuan - close to S$500,000 - for
just such a number.
Currently, the first four digits of mobile numbers
are given out sequentially in 'blocks', and IDA said there is no
preferential treatment for issuing the numbers. 'IDA tries to be as
equitable as possible in the allocation of numbers,' the spokesperson said.
A check with telcos showed that choosing an
auspicious number may not come cheap: prices for 'golden numbers', which
often include repeated single or double digits, are auctioned to the highest
bidder, and can sometimes cost more than $10,000.
'If you want to choose your own (mobile) number,
it ranges from $100 to $1,288,' said SingTel spokesman Ivan Tan. 'The
exception is for numbers where the last four digits are identical, in which
case there is a monthly bid process, which can go up to five figures.'
Even so, some businessmen that BT spoke with said
they were unlikely to fork out more than a few thousand dollars on an
'I don't think I'll spend more than a thousand
dollars on a number,' said Kenny Yap, managing director of Qian Hu.
Albert Phuay, chief executive of Excelpoint
Technology, said: 'Maybe a couple of thousand dollars, but that's about
all... A number is a number.'
Both SingTel and StarHub expect to be able to
offer the new '8' series of numbers in April, while M1 said it expects to
offer the new numbers a month after they have been allocated to it by the
As at Sept 30 last year, SingTel had 1.52 million
mobile subscribers, while StarHub had over 850,000 mobile subscribers as at
Dec 30 last year. M1 said it currently has more than one million mobile
All three telcos said that although they
anticipate some public interest in the new series of numbers, many existing
customers are unlikely to switch solely to obtain a new number.
'When the new range becomes available, most
existing customers are unlikely to want to change their numbers which are
already familiar to their friends and business contacts,' an M1 spokesperson
said. - by Daniel Buenas SINGAPORE
BIZ TIMES 9 Jan 2004
Besides cellphones, license plates are also a
status symbol Asians are willing to pay a lot for.
man pays $1.5m for car licence plate No. 12
HONG KONG - A man in a surgical mask and
cap has bought the most expensive car licence plate sold in Hong Kong since
1997, paying HK$7.1 million (S$1.5 million) at an auction.
Media reports yesterday said bidding at the
weekend auction for the plate number 12, which sounds like 'certainly easy'
in Cantonese, turned out to be an intense fight between the masked man and
the daughter of Mr Francis Choi - popularly known as the toy king of Hong
It ended with Ms Choi withdrawing from the fray
after her HK$7 million bid was topped by the mystery man's HK$7.1 million,
Ming Pao Daily News reported.
The masked man left immediately without
identifying himself, said the South China Morning Post.
The amount paid for the licence plate was the
third highest in the territory's history.
The record for the most expensive plate is held by
local tycoon Albert Yeung, who bought number nine - which sounds like
'forever' in Cantonese - in 1994 for HK$13 million.
The second highest price of HK$9.5 million was
paid by Mr Wong Ming-hung in 1993 for the number two.
According to Ms Amy Chow, principal executive
officer for the Transport Department, which organised Sunday's annual
Chinese New Year auction, the total bid amount came to HK$13.49 million.
This represented an almost 50-per-cent rise over
last year's event, which fetched HK$9 million, she said.
Ms Chow added that she believed the enthusiastic
bidding this year was due to Hong Kong's improving economy. -
22 Feb 2005 AGENCE
Chinese mobile phone users passes 300
BEIJING - The number of mobile phone users in
China, already the world's biggest market, rose by nearly 13 per cent over
the past six months to 305 million, according to state media.
Mobile phone users sent just under 100 billion
text messages in the first half of this year, the Xinhua News Agency said.
China has the world's largest mobile phone market,
despite an average annual income of less than US$1,000 (S$1,707) per person.
Mobile phone companies signed up 35 million new
subscribers between January and June, Xinhua said on late Wednesday. It said
the number of fixed-line users rose by 12 per cent to 295 million during the
The report cited data from the Ministry of
Information Industry, the country's main telecommunications regulator.
Compared with figures released earlier by the
ministry, the data indicated China added 4.7 million mobile phone users and
five million fixed-line users in June alone.
China's telecommunication services market is
dominated by four major state-owned companies - two of which run mobile
networks while two focus on fixed lines.
Over the first six months of the year, their
revenues totalled 254 billion yuan (S$52 billion), Xinhua said.
- 22 July 2004 SINGAPORE
Cellphone number sold for
stunning US$1m on China site
Price believed to be the highest paid for a phone
An online buyer has bought a cellphone number for nine million yuan
(about US$1 million) on a Chinese auction site, state press reported
The sale for the number 135 8585 8585, which in Chinese sounds like 'let
me be rich, be rich, be rich, be rich,' was completed this week after a
flurry of some 70 bids, the Shanghai Daily reported.
'We have checked our records and confirmed the deal,' the newspaper
quoted Tang Lei, a public relations manager at EachNet.com, as saying.
Mr Tang added that he believed it was the highest price ever paid for a
phone number online.
EachNet.com said prices for cellphone numbers auctioned on its website
have risen in recent years, with numbers believed to be lucky selling from
100 yuan to as much as 100,000 yuan.
Sellers pay a 0.25 per cent commission to EachNet.com - in this case
about 22,500 yuan.
However, the website cannot enforce the deal and 'the possibility cannot
be ruled out that purchasers will break the deal and negotiate another price
offline', Mr Tang said. - AFP Singapore
Business Times 14 Apr 2004
Hong Kong children top mobile phone
ownership in Asia: survey
Hong Kong's mobile phone obsession has passed onto children, with their
ownership of the gadgets coming highest in Asia, a survey showed.
An annual report on Asian telecoms market conducted in 12 countries by
research company TNS showed 29 percent of Hong Kong children aged 6 to 15
have a mobile phone, followed by 25 percent in Australia and Japan.
New Zealand and Singapore came in third place with 24 percent. The
regional average is 12 percent.
The youngest mobile phone owner in Hong Kong is just six years old.
The former British colony also maintains the top spot for having the
highest penetration rate with 83 percent of its 6.8 million population
owning a mobile phone.
This was followed by Australia's 82 percent and Japan's 80 percent. The
regional average is 67 percent, the study showed.
TNS Hong Kong Associate Director Stephen Yap said the city's high
penetration rate is partly due to its low calling costs.
"Hong Kong is arguably the most competitive mobile market in the
world, with six operators serving a population of seven million and an
overwhelming choice of handsets on the market," he said.
Japan has only three network operators.
But in terms of text messaging, Hong Kong came bottom compared with the
rest of the region.
Just 43 percent of Hong Kong mobile users send text messages. They send
an average of only 23 messages a month compared with 124 in China, 219 in
Singapore and 466 in Philippines.
"Hong Kong was relatively late in introducing inter-operator SMS,
which explains why SMS usage lags far behind other countries," he
added. - ASSOCIATED
PRESS 9 Aug 2004
leads in mobile use
The research firm TNS has discovered what just about everybody on the
street already suspected: Hong Kong has the highest mobile phone penetration
in the Asia-Pacific region.
About 83 per cent of Hong Kong adults use mobile phones compared with
average penetration of 67 per cent across the region for those aged 16 to
69; 66 per cent in China's 12 main cities; 82 per cent in Australia; and 80
per cent in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya in Japan.
More than three-quarters of Hong Kong mobile phone users have owned more
than one handset and most have had four or more handsets.
Ownership usually begins when children are 10 to 12 years old, TNS said.
SAR mobile users are also the most likely in Asia to change service
provider, with 28 per cent expecting to do so in the next six months,
compared with the Asia-Pacific average of 15 per cent.
``Hong Kong is arguably the most competitive mobile market in the world,
with six operators serving a population of just seven million and an
overwhelming choice of handsets on the market,'' TNS Hong Kong associate
director Stephen Yap said.
``The market is saturated and so customer retention is the name of the
game for both handset makers and network operators,'' he said.
The TNS Asia Telecoms Index shows only 43 per cent of Hong Kong cellphone
users use short-messaging services (SMS), the lowest penetration rate in the
region. Those who use SMS only send 23 messages a month, well below China's
124, Vietnam's 136, Singapore's 219, and 466 in the Philippines' top three
``Hong Kong was relatively late in introducing inter-operator SMS, which
explains why SMS usage lags far behind other countries,'' Yap said.
``With the cost of voice services ever decreasing, SMS represents an
important revenue channel for operators... Moreover, SMS has been shown to
be a gateway to migrate users to adopt other data services,'' Yap said.
The relatively low SMS penetration rate may also be a result of the
city's culture and air-time charges, he said.
``In Hong Kong, people like using mobile phones everywhere, no matter
whether they're in a meeting or on the MTR. But you hardly ever see people
talking on cellphones in trains in Japan ... they prefer sending SMS to
making calls.'' - by Anthony Tran
KONG STANDARD 6 Aug 2004
HK pursues love affair
with mobile phone
Builder Chiu Chi-wai's multiple love affairs began when he was a
teenager. He pursues the good-looking, as well as the slim and petite. But
the objects of his affection are mobile phones.
The 29-year-old has spent HK$13,000 dollars (US$1,700) on the latest
"During the good old days, when I made enough money, I would upgrade
my phones every two to three months. My dad and my mum are just as crazy
about mobiles as me," he said.
Although the case of Mr Chiu might appear extreme, people like him are
not unusual in the former British colony.
The city's obsession with the gadgets can be judged from the fact there
are more mobile phone lines than people.
Mobile subscriptions reached an all-time high of 7.35 million in March,
almost double the four million of 1999, according to government figures in
the city of 6.8 million people.
Hong Kong mobile phone ownership was the highest in Asia, with 86 per
cent of the population owning one or more mobile phones, according to a
study by technology research company TNS of 11 Asian telecommunications
markets, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
TNS found Hong Kongers were more willing to spend money on their next
mobile phone than the rest of Asia and are more aware of the advanced
These people tend to change their mobiles faster than the rest of Asia,
with 36 per cent of users planning to buy a new model within 12 months. And
nearly 20 per cent intend to purchase a new one in six months.
Hong Kong consumers are the most sophisticated group of mobile users in
the region. They were pioneers or early adopters of the latest hi-tech
gadgets, said Chan Chi-wing, regional director of TNS telecommunications and
"Hong Kong has a very open market; it's often seen as a testing
ground for new technology," Ms Chan said.
"The Japanese are more entrenched with their own brands, but Hong
Kong people are far more acceptable to new technology and different brands
That's the uniqueness of Hong Kong."
TNS figures reveal 15 per cent of Hong Kong users have two mobile phone
numbers or SIM cards (subscriber identity module), a smart card that stores
telephone account information and one phone number. Three per cent have
three or more numbers.
The researcher said more Hong Kong people tended to have multiple
handsets and phone numbers compared with the rest of Asia.
A lot of the Hong Kongers use mobiles as a fashion accessory chosen to
match the occasion.
"Some people use different handsets for different occasions. When
going to parties, they tend to use a more stylish, trendy phones but when
they go to work or school, they use a more conservative-looking
phones," Ms Chan said.
Mr Chiu juggles three SIM cards, switching between two handsets for
"convenience" and for different purposes. One phone number is for
work only, one for best friends and one to fend off "unwanted"
acquaintances, he said.
"My mobile phones are light, so I can easily clip them on my belt. I
used to meet a lot of girls on ICQ [an online instant messenger system], so
if I really liked them, I would give them my best number to make sure they
could find me."
Hong Kong people were uniquely price conscious, TNS' Ms Chan said. With
more people travelling to China for work or to visit relatives, they got
around paying expensive international roaming fees by switching between
local and Chinese SIM cards, Ms Chan said.
"Hong Kong consumers are really clever; they buy pre-paid phone
cards for China, no monthly fee is needed and they can make cheaper
calls," Ms Chan said.
"You can often see these people change their SIM cards on the train
when they are near the border." he added.
When choosing a phone, Hong Kong people more than other Asians place more
value on appearance. Handset manufacturers keen to market mobile phones as a
fashion item find a ready audience here.
There are more than 100 types of handsets on sale in Hong Kong and
numerous accessories. Flashing colour antennas and hand and neck straps,
flash stickers, Winnie the Pooh or Mickey Mouse mobile covers or stylish
"I just enjoy the fun of having different mobile covers and ring
tones. Everyone has the same model, how do you identify yourself? - by
changing covers and having different ring tones," Mr Chiu said.
Despite their popularity, Ms Chan said the mobile phone market had
reached saturation point and was unlikely to grow further.
Nurse Lydia Chan, a 34-year-old who was once a mobile enthusiast, is
tiring of her one-time passion.
"I've changed as I get older. I'd rather spend money on travelling
than on the latest models of mobile phones that cost hundreds of dollars.
They are only trends and don't last forever," she said.
- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE in Hong Kong
CHINA MORNING POST
3 June 2004
Reach out to Asia's youth - through
their mobile phones
Mobile phones may become the 'broadcast
television' of the next generation, and companies must learn that in the new
tech-savvy youth culture of Asia, creativity will be the key differentiating
factor for success in reaching out to younger consumers.
These were some of the points raised at a panel
discussion on technology, innovation and changing consumer lifestyles held
at the Global Brand Forum.
'You can look at mobile phones as the 'new small
screen'. There will be more of these devices than television sets in the
world very shortly,' said Geoffrey Frost, chief brand officer at Motorola.
'This (may be) the new personal, broadcast television of the future.'
Mr Frost added that as technology progresses, the
mobile phone - which is already an essential part of most people's lives -
would become more integrated into Asian youth culture and lifestyle.
MTV Networks Asia Pacific president Frank Brown
said that the rate of change in youth culture has quickened, and that
innovation is essential to be successful to reach out to youth as a consumer
'Creativity will be the winning differentiator in
any business for the entire future,' Mr Brown said. 'So much is so easily
replicated today, and the key difference will be creativity.'
He added that the need for innovation and
creativity extends beyond the music industry to technology too.
Mr Brown also pointed out that Asia's youth
culture has become intertwined with technology.
'The mobile phone is not just an opportunity to
communicate for the young people in Asia,' he said. 'One of these devices is
like having the entire world in the palm of their hand, and that is a unique
phenomenon for this generation that we have not seen in any other previous
generation.' - By Daniel Buenas Business
Times - 17 Aug 2004
MTV to put content on
The latest music videos of stars such as Sean ``P
Diddy'' Combs or Kelly Chen will be gyrating on mobile phones all over Hong
Kong later this month, if global music channel MTV has its way.
This has been made possible with the advance of
mobile technology, which allows for high speed data transmission of
multimedia images, such as streaming videos, on to mobile handsets. And it
is likely to get a boost with the introduction of high-speed
third-generation mobile technology in the SAR before the end of this year.
``We are talking with all the existing mobile
players in Hong Kong about bringing our mobile content on to their
networks,'' MTV Networks Asia's vice-president of network communications
Jessica Kam said.
Other features such as real-time song dedications
on MTV music programmes through short messaging services (SMS) and content
based on multimedia messaging services (MMS), such as screen backgrounds and
logos, are also in the pipeline.
MTV has set up a new mobile unit in Hong Kong to
develop the new business.
Kam said it highlighted the music channel's
determination to become ``as much a part of the young people's mobile world
across Asia as it is with their world of mass media and entertainment''.
Hong Kong is the third market in which MTV has
launched a mobile division. Similar divisions have been operating in Europe
and Japan for a year.
Kam said MTV also planned to expand its Hong Kong
distribution channels, which now reached 600,000 households.
Controlled by global media giant Viacom, MTV
Networks Asia derives 70 per cent of its revenue from advertising.
Distribution sales from its affiliates yield 20 per cent, with the remaining
10 per cent from licensing and merchandising.
The music channel is broadcast on i-Cable and PCCW,
which is offering MTV's Southeast Asia channel through its pay-TV service
Now Broadband TV.
I-Cable this month revamped its channel for Hong
Kong, putting the city's music content onto the greater China channel, MTV
China. Before this change, Hong Kong audiences were watching a combined MTV
Taiwan/Hong Kong channel. - by Georgina Lee
Chinese tendency for Lucky Numbers
extends to License Plates too
(HONG KONG) A Hong Kong business group wants the
sale of personalised car number plates featuring company brands banned after
tags featuring HSBC and Sony were snapped up at auction, a media report said
The plates - including another spelling the name
Ferrari with the numeral 1 - were sold on Saturday to a restaurateur for
around HK$2 million (S$401,000), the South China Morning Post reported.
Business groups want a ban on brand names on the
plates, warning of copyright issues and possible lawsuits if the plates are
used for commercial purposes.
But the paper quoted government officials
defending the personalised plate scheme, which has seen two lucrative
auctions since being introduced earlier this year. 'We had already consulted
legal opinion when we formulated the scheme,' finance development chief Fred
Ma was quoted as saying. 'We are confident that the personalised vehicle
registration scheme can stand up to (legal) challenges.' - AFP
30 Oct 2006