Hutchison Whampoa

Local start-up puts blogging on street

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 July, 2005, 12:00am

With M-Gen's web browser, online diarists can use their mobile phones to upload photos or video clips

M-Gen Mobile Technology will launch a mobile blogging site on Thursday, giving Hong Kong's online diarists an additional outlet for their musings and photos while providing mobile operators with a source of amateur content.

The Hong Kong-based start-up, backed by seed money from the Innovation and Technology Fund, plans to make its 'mocasting' software available free to bloggers, but hopes to share in data transmission revenue with 3G operators once traffic reaches a significant scale.

'Mobile blogs help operators solve the problem of sourcing attractive content. We hope to boost mobile data usage and encourage users to develop the habit of browsing the Web through their handsets,' said founder Keith Li.

M-Gen does not intend to seek exclusive deals with mobile operators - a strategy that would fragment its potential market - preferring instead to court a wide audience through an open platform.

Hong Kong's 8.32 million mobile phone users are divided among six operators.

'We are doing the right thing to help operators stimulate use of the mobile internet as mobile blogs offer users fresh and creative content. This could help 3G to take off,' Mr Li said.

Despite the high mobile penetration rate, Hong Kong is a relative laggard in mobile blogging, with none of the city's operators offering services that allow for photos, video and text to be easily posted to the internet.

Singaporean website Moblog has attracted about 9,000 members and charges users a fee for multimedia uploads and downloads.

M-Gen's mobile blogging software uses the Java 2 Micro Edition platform, which allows applications to be developed for the small screen.

With the company's web browser, users can log on to the mocasting website, uploading photos or video clips via their handsets. This content can be viewed on the desktop or mobile phone.

M-Gen is also in discussion with several independent musicians about distributing music files through the mocasting platform.

'These music composers are putting their music on the Web but they don't have their own music channel. We hope we can help them build up a brand and fan base. In the long run, we may share revenue with them and establish another way of selling music,' Mr Li said.

M-Gen hopes to ride other trends in the mobile industry, such as games played on the handset. It has launched what it claims to be Hong Kong's first mobile game that uses location-based technology.

The game, Quest for the Seven Swords, was provided exclusively to Hutchison Telecommunications, which offers the title to its 3G users at $30 a month.

When the user logs in, the game tells players where other players are. The object is to hunt for 'hidden' swords in the streets of Hong Kong, challenging other players for their sabres. The game is based on the Tsui Hark film Seven Swords.

Game play, however, is limited to high data traffic areas such as Tsim Sha Tsui and the MTR line between Sheung Wan and Causeway Bay. Users outside the game coverage area won't be able to play.

Mr Li said the game exceeded expectations, with more than 500 players signing up since July 5.

'We are confident total users for the game will exceed 1,000 as we have more than 30 players joining the game daily,' Mr Li said.

M-Gen will share the monthly subscription revenue with Hutchison, with the operator receiving more than half.