Related entries: Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective
I read about discussion on webmasterworld.com. Let’s try to describe the society I am in. I live in Shanghai, China.
SMS is hot; SMS is part of people’s life in China
I couldn’t image there is anything that affected people’s life more than Internet two years ago. Now I realized SMS is competing with Internet to change people’s life.
In China, there is only 48.29 million Internet users by end of Nov, 2002 (don’t get me wrong, this number is huge already), but there are 200.3 million mobile users.
I have a friend who spend about 100 RMB every month for SMS. It is only 0.1 RMB per SMS, which means 1000 SMS every month. Young generation (16-20 years old) use SMS more frequently. As I described in this article, Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective, some people just buy a mobile phone and a pre-paid card. They only use the SMS functions as a good way to save money. They don’t use the mobile phone to call.
SMS + TV? SMS + Radio? SMS + newspaper? SMS + ….
SMS is no longer a method for peer-to-peer communication. Some TV programs uses SMS as a feedback channel from the audience. They will put a survey on TV and they can get instant feedbacks. For example, in some competitions, SMS sent by audience will be a factor to choose the final winner. It is the same for the combination of SMS + Radio or newspaper.
More and more companies in Shanghai are using SMS as the information platform. There is a company called Guangxi (or Relation in English). You can send a SMS message to their service number 885074 containing any place name, and they will return the result to you via SMS. It is very handy.
CMCC (China Mobile) allows you to send JFCX to 1861 to query your credit in CMCC. Even the government is using SMS as a quick way to validate the invoice. This way, people cannot make fake invoices.
SMS + Internet
The reason why SMS can generate revenue is, the provider can charge more than the standard 0.1 RMB/message. In http://sms.sina.com.cn, for example, people can download rings, pictures. Sina.com will charge 1.0 RMB/message for most of the download. The fee will appear in the monthly bill of mobile fee of the users. Then communication companies like CMCC will share the revenue with Sina.
For companies like 5460.net, a classmate finder service, information is no longer free. If you want to find a long lost classmate, you can enter his/her name, and the site will list very limited information about the person you are looking for. If you want to get more like his email, mobilephone, …, you need to enter your mobile phone number. The site will send it to you. The trick is, if the site display is on the web site, it is free. But if they send it to you, they can charge you 1 RMB. That is the different. Although it is very small amount of expense for you, the thousands of subscribers do add up to big money.