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The development of multi-media messaging services (MMS) will be further boosted this year to meet increasing domestic demand, says Lu Xiangdong, deputy general manager of China Mobile Communications Corporation.

"The booming demand can be attributed to the great convenience MMS has brought to cellular phone users," he said.

MMS includes Web-based and e-mail-based text messaging, two-way messaging, news headlines, ring tones, sports scores, stock quotes, and other customer-specific information.

The company officially kicked off its MMS service last October.

Figures from the company showed that sales of the new service topped 1 million items by the end of last year.

"We expect the figure to grow further this year and to recruit millions of multi-media message service subscribers," he told China Daily yesterday.

Lu said that MMS will become more and more popular among young people, especially those in the 18 to 25 age group.

MMS is also a part of the company's mobile Internet project launched in November 2000, aiming to develop data-based value-added wireless services.

"With more and more wireless applications tying up with cellular phone networks, the mobile Internet will be more popular," Lu said.

"No wonder, days will become easier for mobile phone users as nowadays they can solve many things by simply walking their fingers," he said.

He said that a package of wireless applications will be classified this year to target different customers such as enterprises and personal customers.

"The domestic market is ripe for the mobile Internet, especially MMS," Lu said.

But bottlenecks lie in several aspects such as the supply of mobile phones and Internet content.

The global market is now lacking related accessories for those mobile phones that support MMS.

"As a result, we still have no idea how many MMS-enabled mobile phones will be sold in the domestic market this year," Lu said.

Analysts believe that camera phones will be preferred this year as they add more attractions for customers.

"Subscriber-customized Internet content services such as news headlines, ring tones and stock quotes will be one of the focuses of our MMS-related services," Lu said.

He said that the price for sending each MMS is 0.9 yuan (10 US cents).

"We will definitely offer price privilege once we have a larger customer base," Lu said.

In another development, the company will continue to work on its short message service (SMS), he said.

SMS is a globally accepted wireless service that enables the transmission of alphanumeric messages between mobile subscribers and external systems such as electronic mail, paging, and voice-mail systems.

(China Daily January 7, 2003)

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