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Newspaper provides mobile phone version
Updated: 2004-07-28 15:01

The message service of mobile phones in China has taken on a brand-new function. On July 18, the Beijing-based newspaper China Women's News started to provide a mobile phone version to multimedia message service (MMS) users. Subscribers to the new service receive headlines and leads of major news stories of the latest issues of the newspaper daily, as well as six to eight news photos.

More newspapers will become available via mobile phone, according to the Beijing Ehaui Network Technology Co., Ltd., the technology partner of the mobile service of China Women's News.

"We have signed contracts with several other newspapers, including the Workers' Daily and the China Youth Daily, on launching mobile newspaper services for them. These services will begin from August. And still more are negotiating with us," said Tang Dansong, president of Ehaui.

Tang acknowledged subscribers to the mobile China Women's News are growing very fast, but declined to reveal specific numbers.

Subscription to the service is set at 20 yuan (US$2.4) per month. To read a full news story, the user needs to pay an additional 1 yuan.

The company will share the profits of the service with the newspaper and mobile phone service operator, Tang said.

China currently has more than 300 million mobile phone users, including an estimated 6 million using mobile phones with MMS features. MMS supports sending or receiving more than 10,000 Chinese characters in one text message, compared with 70 Chinese characters in the prevailing short message service (SMS) at present.

Shi Songdong, a manager with Ehaui, said the advance of mobile phone technology has made mobile phone newspapers a lot more possible and feasible. The issue is how to better take advantage of these technological improvements.

"The general public impression of MMS is a tool for trendy adolescents to download screen savers and sounds to mobile phones. We'll show that the new technology will bring us not only that, but also a host of valuable information that make us live better," added Shi.

Shi went on to say that the mobile phone newspaper is the core business of the company at present. In the future, it will continue to develop meaningful content for SMS and multimedia message service (MMS) users.

China is probably the country that has exploited the possibilities of message service of mobile phones the most. While SMS and MMS are used as a chatting tool, they are also often used to receive weather forecasts, train schedules, and warnings of ongoing theft and unusual money withdrawal from bank accounts.

The people in China sent more than 200 billion mobile phone messages in 2003. Some industrial insiders note that's about half the amount of the world's total.

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