Our welcoming party at Microsoft China
Fan Yi lets us into CTC
Fan Yi, from the China Technology Centre (CTC), presented next and what made his talk more interactive than the others was his choice to move us from our seats and take us behind the closed doors of Microsoft. He lead us to a room named CTC where every gadget and technology available to Microsoft had crept its way into virtual living rooms, offices, and conference centers; all virtually replicated in one hall. Behind these doors we were able to see Chinese speech recognition got to work, and localization (and culturalization) take place first hand. The demonstrated the power of the Multilingual User Interface (MUI) and its power in the Asian market place. This was enjoyable and gave the localization presentation we had yesterday a little more needed perspective.
Anderson Liu demonstrates Windows Mobile Messenger
Next we heard from Anderson Liu, Director, MSN China. This to me was the highlight of the day and definitely worth sharing. He explained that MSN in China (http://www.msn.com.cn/) is one of the most profitable revenue streams that Microsoft has - globally! Its primary role is to supply a portal for advertisers to benefit from, i.e. Auctions, Online Shopping and more. Advertising is the number one revenue stream stemming from this site while the other is communication services, i.e. hotmail, instant messengers, and now blogging services. To put the sheer amount of revenue they generate here into perspective we need to look at software revenue for Microsoft, which stands a 100 billion USD, vs. Advertising revenue from MSN which stands at 500 billion dollars annually! So where do you think the future lies? Software, or online portals/services…I wonder.
The reason I bring this up is that Microsoft believes that mobile portals will be the biggest growth market for China, and in fact the world. If you look at mobile services on phones and Mobile PCs then this is the biggest growth potential for revenue worldwide. In preparation of the newly awarded 3G license agreement China has chosen to role out a 2.75G network, i.e. and enhanced version of current GSM. MSN is looking at providing a massive amount of content driven services so that the biggest revenue net is cast when 3G finally gets approved and rolled out. Lets translate this to dollars.
If you are a mobile developer, and as I mentioned this yesterday, maybe you should start to look at the Chinese market, or at least take a look at online services as a massive revenue stream available to you. In China right now there are three hundred million (300,000,000) mobile users…ouch! Lets Look at a more realistic example: during the Chinese New Year celebrations (that one night) there will be 2 billion SMSs sent!!! So there is a strong push from telco carriers to NOT launch free mobile services, but rather they are focused on pay for use, hence the amount of revenue China is seeing, and foreseeing.
One of the obvious drawbacks of using Cell Phones as the preferred device for such a portal is the lack of screen realestate. Sitting in the room I couldn't help but pose the question, what about UMPC? To which the answer was…"that's a good question!?!?" Liu went on to demo Windows Mobile Live Messenger on his phone but instead of using the keyboard he talked into the phone and sent a voice clipping instead. WOW! Made me wonder if Microsoft China had downloaded Skype on their phones…lol