China had more than one billion phone users in June 2009, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. China added 43.5 million phone users in the first six months of this year, bringing the total to 1.025 billion, even though the number of fixed lines dropped by more than 10 million during the same period. The number of mobile phone users jumped by nearly 54 million, boosted by the launch of the third-generation (3G) network in China at the beginning of 2009. -  Source: Xinhua


Asia's 8 emerging markets to have 1b mobile users by 2012      >> ASIA TELCO's


There's Two Million TVs In Bathrooms in the US! - ECONOMIST

8888 8888 mobile no. coming up for grabs

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 IDA.

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 auspicious number.

'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 IDA.

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 subscribers.

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.

Mystery HK 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 Kong.

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 FRANCE-PRESSE

Chinese mobile phone users passes 300 million

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 same period.

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 BUSINESS TIMES

Cellphone number sold for stunning US$1m on China site
Price believed to be the highest paid for a phone number online

An online buyer has bought a cellphone number for nine million yuan (about US$1 million) on a Chinese auction site, state press reported yesterday.

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, as saying.

Mr Tang added that he believed it was the highest price ever paid for a phone number online. 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 - 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

HK 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 metropolitan areas.

``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    HONG 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 models.

"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 technology.

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 technology.

"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 and products.

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 cases.

"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      SOUTH 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 group.

'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 cell phones

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    HONG KONG STANDARD   

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 yesterday.

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


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