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China Mobile offers sops to 3G applications developers
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China Mobile is planning to offer freebies and incentives to service providers to develop applications for its third generation (3G) mobile services, an unprecedented move that is set to intensify competition in the country's fledging 3G business.

Under an initiative the company plans to kick off next week, China Mobile will enlist services and applications tailor-made for its TD-SCDMA 3G services from developers and partners and will not take commissions from them during the first year.

The world's biggest mobile carrier in terms of user number will also provide a series of technological and management platforms for the application developers.

The move is designed to give incentives to developers and services providers to develop applications for China Mobile's 3G services, which is based on TD-SCDMA, a home-grown standard.

Lack of killer applications, experts said, will hinder the growth of 3G services in the country, which introduced the services earlier this year.

Developing killer applications (such as text messaging in the 2G era) is critical to spur the 3G business and is the only way that it can really take off, Chen Jinqiao, deputy chief engineer from China Academy of Telecommunication Research, told China Daily earlier.

Sina.com.cn, the country's largest Internet portal, will "actively participate in China Mobile's initiative and develop interactive services such as games and video applications under the program", its CEO Cao Guowei said yesterday.

China Mobile will also provide marketing support services to those partners whose applications prove to be popular, according to Gao Nianshu, general manager of China Mobile's data division.

The company will also provide one-stop services to those application developers, Gao said.

But the applications do not include text message services, he added.

China Mobile's move comes just as the telecom carrier is set to launch an online mobile phone application and software store, modeled after Apple's and Nokia's online stores.

The online store, Mobile Market, www.mmarket.com, will be open to developers to develop games and other applications or software, which can be downloaded by existing China Mobile subscribers.

China Mobile then will charge developers a listing fee.

The country's three carriers, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, are pinning their hopes on the fledging 3G services to drive their business as the market is increasingly becoming saturated and competitive.

China Unicom reportedly inked a 10-billion-yuan deal with Apple to buy 5 million iPhones that support its WCDMA 3G services, in a bid to attract iPhone fans to be its 3G users.

(China Daily August 13, 2009)

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