A boom in China's mobile-data market has sent wireless-content providers rushing to deliver new products that would ring in more business from mainland cellular subscribers. With more than 200 million mobile-phone users in China, demand has grown rapidly for a slew of wireless data applications - from text greetings, jokes, alerts, games, logos and ring tones to chat forums, picture messages, screensavers and video clips. 'Wireless-application providers have now become an important part of a growing ecosystem created by mainland cellular operators to supply content to their subscribers,' said Duncan Clark, managing director at BDA China, a Beijing-based technology consultancy firm. 'The mobile-data market's growth has also validated operators' investments in these services.' Text-based short-messaging services (SMS) lead the mainland market since these are widely available to subscribers of existing second-generation (2G) cellular-phone networks. Estimates from Pyramid Research found SMS revenues in China last year amounted to US$750 million and are expected to reach US$16 billion by 2007. Such potential led Hong Kong-based technology services group Chinadotcom to acquire Newpalm (China) Information Technology, an SMS software-platform developer and applications provider, in April. That move followed earlier efforts by mainland e-commerce portal operators such as Sohu and Sina to branch out into the SMS business. 'We're seeing continued momentum in China's SMS market with Newpalm and we're looking to broaden our offerings to include premium services,' said Hongkong.com chief executive Rudy Chan, who is also head of Chinadotcom's mobile and portal business. Chinadotcom, through its mobile and portal subsidiary Hongkong.com, has plugged Newpalm's SMS applications and its 3.25 million paid subscribers - including both GSM (global system for mobile communications) and CDMA (code division multiple access) network subscribers in China - into the company's existing portal network. Since integrating with Chinadotcom, Newpalm has launched a customised weather-news service, whereby users can select the China Central Television weather-news presenter of their choice. This nationwide service is delivered to users at specified times, with Newpalm charging 0.20 yuan per message. To widen its marketing reach, Newpalm recently signed service deals with four more provincial network operators under nationwide carrier China Mobile. It has increased its coverage to 26 provinces in total. Meanwhile, Pan-Asia wireless-application provider Mobile Internet Group (MIG) has teamed up with Sohu to offer 'branded' SMS and multimedia-message services (MMS) - which carry audio, data and graphics-rich content - on 2G and 2.5G networks based on GPRS (general packet radio service) technology. MIG chief executive Matthew Talbot said the campaign with Sohu centred on wireless services that focused on Chinese professional basketball star Yao Ming. These include an SMS quiz and MMS colour greetings with voice messages linked to a Web site where news and features about the player can be picked up by subscribers. Mr Talbot said that MIG, which operates out of Sydney and Beijing, was looking for partners to develop products that could be supplied to the company's 50 mobile network-operator and content-provider partners around the world.