China Mobile Says Mobile Market Sales Going Well

The sale of games, mobile apps, e-books and more have been brisk on China Mobile's app store, Mobile Market, since billing started this month, executives from the company say.

China Mobile and other operators have opened app stores similar to Apple's iPhone App Store as a way to make money selling software and services for smartphones. China Mobile has pledged to allow any phone maker to put its apps on the Mobile Market, despite the company developing its own operating system, OMS (Open Mobile System), and branding phones that use it, Ophones.

The company opened Mobile Market on Aug. 17, but commercial billing didn't begin until the first of this month, said Reading Gao, general manager of China Mobile's data services department, during a news conference Thursday.

"One major difference between Mobile Market and Apple's App Store is we provide service over many (OS) platforms, not just one," he said.

"You also don't have to pay for apps by credit card. On Mobile Market, you pay through your mobile phone bill," he said.

Since opening, China Mobile's app store has sold 15,000 songs, 2,000 e-books, 20,000 video programs and a number of mobile apps, he said. Around 5,550 mobile apps have been approved for sale on Mobile Market and 3,510 are already available, he said. In September, only 2,000 apps were available on the site.

Growth has come partly from the amount of smartphones, netbooks, data cards and other devices available. Mobile Market was only available on 14 devices when it launched, but China Mobile has signed deals to include more OSes, including Symbian, on the marketplace. Currently, Mobile Market works with 70 devices and serves a market of about 10 million users and China Mobile predicts it will be available for 100 devices and 20 million customers by the end of this year.

China Mobile is the world's largest mobile phone service provider with 513.5 million subscribers as of the end of October, according to its Web site.

Software developers will be paid 70 percent of revenue from their apps on Mobile Market, while the other 30 percent goes to China Mobile, Gao said. Over 27,000 developers have registered with Mobile Market.

The company has also worked out revenue sharing with book publishers and is signing deals to digitize more books and sell them to its customers.

Mobile Market will soon have 30,000 books, magazines, comics and other material available from several Chinese publishers. The company pays 40 percent of the revenue from each publication sold to the content provider and keeps 60 percent, according to Gao.

The company already offers two e-readers, one from local makers Hanwang Technology and Datang Telecom, while Hon Hai Precision Industry of Taiwan, which operates under the trade name Foxconn, will start manufacturing e-readers for China Mobile soon, according to company chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou.

The e-readers all have built in TD-SCDMA and EDGE cards built in so people can download e-books wirelessly, and they all use e-ink technology, Gao said.

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