China Mobile enters gaming pact
Bien Perez in Beijing
China Mobile and South Korea's SK Telecom, the largest wireless network operators in their markets, have agreed to collaborate on mobile gaming content for the mainland.
The initiative is to be undertaken by China Mobile's unit in Jiangsu, one of the country's most prosperous provinces, based on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the operators last Friday.
China Mobile Jiangsu is a major branch that is responsible for the Hong Kong-listed telecommunications network operator's overall games business.
'The memorandum of understanding will create valuable opportunities for competitive Korean content providers to enter the Chinese market in full swing,' said Oh Se-hyun, the president of SK Telecom's China CIC, the business unit in charge of the operator's information and communications technologies operations on the mainland.
China Mobile, which had 594.93 million subscribers as of February, expects SK Telecom to supply mobile games based on Google's Android operating system to the mainland.
The games would come from the Korean operator's 'T Store', a mobile applications portal with content that supports four handset operating systems: Android, Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Nokia's Symbian, and Linux.
SK Telecom will customise mobile games from its T Store to meet the needs of Chinese mobile users.
The Android-based games would cater to the growing number of China Mobile users with advanced smartphones on its internet-ready Edge GSM and 3G networks.
At present, most mobile games on the mainland are focused on low-specification phones used mostly by the nation's vast number of 2G network subscribers.
Market research firm Analysys International estimated the total revenue of the mainland's mobile gaming market last year reached 3.29 billion yuan (HK$3.9 billion), up from 2.03 billion yuan in 2009.
'The current mobile game market [on the mainland] is at the stage of exploration and adjustment,' Analysys said in a report.
China Mobile Jiangsu also agreed to provide SK Telecom with mainland-developed mobile games customised for the Korean market.
The two operators plan to upgrade their mobile gaming platforms to enable users to buy items such as virtual swords, clothes, weapons and other materials needed by players for their mobile games.
Viatech, another mainland subsidiary of SK Telecom, will supply more mobile gaming-related content to China Mobile.
The mobile gaming co-operation pact between the two operators followed a broader agreement forged on March 31.
Under that earlier MOU, the two companies agreed to do joint research in next-generation network architecture; advanced device software platforms to support application developers; create global standards for so-called machine-to-machine technology; and jointly pursue the goals of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC).
Based in Britain, WAC is a global alliance formed by network operators, device makers and information-technology suppliers to create a unified and open mobile platform. This would allow all mobile software developers to more easily write applications used on a variety of devices, operating systems and networks.
In November last year, SK Telecom forged an alliance with Lenovo Group that paved the way to introducing paid mobile applications from T Store for all of the smartphones sold by the mainland computer giant in the domestic market.
A mobile feast
From sales of 2.03 billion yuan in 2009, the mainland's mobile-gaming market last year registered revenues of: 3.29b yuan