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Mon, Oct 23, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Asia's growing appetite for mobile entertainment

NOT JUST A PHONE South Korea and Japan lead the region in the adoption of wireless amusements, with music proving especially popular

AFP , SINGAPORE

From Warner Music to the Walt Disney Co, giants of the entertainment industry have latched on to Asia's growing appetite for wireless amusement.

The mobile phone's transformation from a simple talking device to one that offers entertainment has not only created new revenue streams for telecommunications carriers, but also for the entertainment sector, industry players say.

"The handset is already functioning as an all-time entertainment window," said Cho Young-chu, president and chief executive of South Korea's second-largest mobile carrier KTF.

The hotbed for wireless entertainment is in the Asia-Pacific region, where consumers are regarded as among the most receptive towards new mobile entertainment offerings, research group Ovum said.

"There seems to be a willingness among Asian users to take up new technologies, to try new things," Nathan Burley, a Melbourne-based analyst with Ovum, said.

Burley said South Korea and Japan lead the region in the adoption of wireless entertainment, with demand for mobile music the most popular service, especially among the younger generation.

His assessment was echoed by speakers at the 3GSM World Congress Asia telecommunications conference in Singapore last week.

"Kids today can't live without music and they can't live without their mobile phones and that should remain a very inspiring point for all of us," said Thomas Ryan, EMI Music's senior vice president for digital and mobile strategy and development.

"Young people love mobile music. Music is nothing if not a youth-driven phenomenon with over 80 percent of the market currently driven by people under 25 years of age," he said, citing industry research.

Music is the largest single contributor to average revenue per user (ARPU), after voice and SMS short messages, he said.

Another US recording label, Warner Music, said Asian consumers -- especially in South Korea and Japan -- are dictating the pace of change within the wireless industry through their appetite for mobile music, music videos and other forms of mobile entertainment.

Warner Music, EMI Music and other entertainment companies including Walt Disney have set themselves up in the mobile entertainment arena through tie-ups with telecom players.

Warner also has arrangements with other content service providers, including video-sharing Web site YouTube, to promote its stable of artists.

Asia is the largest mobile music market with sales of US$3.2 billion last year, says Warner, which has invested millions of dollars on popular Asian artists including Japan's Rip Slyme, Thailand's Carabao and Indonesia's Jikustik to position itself in the segment.

Walt Disney Group says it has mobile content distribution in 42 markets, 13 of them in the Asia-Pacific region, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand.

The US giant says more than 706 million mobile consumers have access to Disney mobile content through telecom carriers or other distribution channels.

In Japan, where the service was launched in 2000, the company has working relationships with all three mobile carriers to distribute Disney graphics, ring tones and games.

"Our approach is to leverage our strong brands and properties to create great mobile entertainment," said Duncan Orrell-Jones, senior vice president and managing director of Disney's regional Internet group.

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