With the advent of the 3G era, wireless mobile applications such as mobile magazines are set to play a more imporant role in our world, an industry insider said yesterday.

Mobile magazines have a great future, but some challenges remain,” Han Ying, founder and CEO of Beijing Vivame Information Technology, said in an exclusive interview with the Global Times.

Vivame, one of a few companies in the country specializing in mobile magazines, stated that mobile magazines have gained momentum this year.

To date, over 2 million people have subscribed to mobile magazines since Vivame began charging for services providing a platform for reading magazines via handsets in February, said Han.

Now, Vivame is authorized to offer access to over 1,500 magazines.

Mobile magazines possess greater market value in China compared with other mobile wireless applications, particularly when you take into account the purchasing power of average mobile subscribers,” Han said.

Mobile magazine service fees consist of two parts: subscription charges paid to companies like Vivame and browsing fees paid to telecom operators like China Mobile. Users can choose to pay 2 yuan ($0.29) per magazine or 10 yuan ($1.46) a month for unlimited reading.

China Mobile currently charges according to traffic volume. Users can buy monthly packages – combos include 100 yuan ($14.64) a month for 2GB, 20 yuan ($2.93) for 150MB, 5 yuan ($0.73) for 30 MB and 0.1 yuan ($0.01) for each MB in excess. Downloading a magazine generally needs about 1MB, while downloading a movie usually needs several hundred MB.

The company is expected to make a profit this year, and subscription charges will contribute a lot to this, said Han.

But since mobile magazines remain new to many people and the current economic crisis is still going on, advertisement earnings still need time, he added.

Han further pointed out that the company faces some challenges, which to some extent restrains the rapid development of such newly developing industries. “There are too many operating systems, which increase the cost of R&D and maintenance,” he commented.

The company currently focuses on operating systems including Symbian, Windows Mobile, iPhone, Android, MTK, Java and Brew.

Han also thinks the industry is not developing as fast as expected. He forecasts that it will take two or more years for the industry to develop fully.

The latest data released by the country’s three telecom operators showed that although there was an increase of mobile subscribers in July, China Mobile and China Unicom, the country’s largest and second largest telecom operators, both posted a decline in the number of new subscribers.
According to China Mobile, less people signed up for 3G services in July than in June.

Han suggested that telecom operators should work to develop the wireless application industry. 

On August 17, China Mobile launched a mobile application platform called “mobile market”. Vivame, which works together with many of the content providers, has joined the market. 

Han said China Mobile’s move is what telecom operators should do in order to foster the industry.