Next killer app
The Chinese territory's leading mobile-phone operator, Hong Kong CSL, launched a 3G Mobile TV service it hopes will be the next killer app in turning mobile phones into miniature television sets.
3G stands for the third generation of mobile devices. First generation handsets provided basic cellphone services. The second generation added perks such as text messaging, or SMS.
The last wave of mobile phones, dubbed 2.5G, provided limited video capabilities, but 3G phones carry far more bandwidth for data. Their most impressive feature is the ability for real-time person-to-person video calling, but they also allow access to games, e-mail and real-time news, weather and entertainment video options.
CSL is offering customers of its high-end 1010 phone service live news, finance and entertainment around the clock. The technology was developed by Golden Dynamic and is powered by NMS Communications' mobile video technology.
Live mobile TV isn't entirely new. In Asia, South Korea and Japan have been experimenting with systems with mixed results, and there are less ambitious efforts underway in the U.S. CSL thinks its relatively easy-to-use technology and good content will makes the CSL service more successful.
The service launched 20 real-time channels, costing just less than 8 cents per minute, a price that is likely to drop over time. Content comes from Hong Kong's two terrestrial broadcasters, TVB and ATV, and its I-Cable system as well as foreign media companies like BBC World, Bloomberg Television and Fashion TV. A horse-racing channel is likely to be popular among Hong Kong's avid gamblers.
So far, the mobile TV service is not running advertisements, but it is gaining traction as a platform to promote movies and albums: "We have constantly received inquires from film traders and music publishers on collaboration opportunities after the exclusive launch of different mobile dramas," said Michelle Au, CSL's general manager, marketing communications and public relations, Hong Kong.
Ads star Hong Kong director
CSL, which introduced 3G and Wi-Fi services in 2004, is marketing the new mobile TV service with creative from Leo Burnett Worldwide featuring Andrew Lau Wai Keung. The well-known Hong Kong director of films such as "Infernal Affairs" went in front of the camera in a 30-second TV spot, accompanied by print and outdoor ads.
Launched this month, the ads compare 3G's innovation and ease-of-use with Mr. Lau's vision of life in the future -- simple, convenient and resonant, not the cold, complicated and disordered world of the future portrayed in most movies. The story ends with Mr. Lau and his son watching 3G Mobile TV on a beach.
"Seeing a need from our target [audience], who have a hectic lifestyle and get turned off with things that require hassle and effort, simplicity became 3G Mobile TV's core offering," said Barbara Yeh, group brand director at Leo Burnett, Hong Kong. "[Mr. Lau] shares the same vision of simplicity."