Sohu.com Inc., China's online media, communications, commerce and mobile value-added services company, and NEC (China) Co., Ltd, a solutions providers for broadband networking and mobile Internet, today announced an exclusive agreement to bring copyrighted wireless ringtones on the Chinese market and pledged further cooperation in the Internet broadband content and wireless content business.
Sohu and NEC are joining forces to expand the new business of building mobile phone value-added services in China based on NEC's experience with wireless Internet in other markets and Sohu's brand strength and reach within the fast-expanding Internet and wireless consumer market. Under the terms of the agreement, NEC will introduce unique copyrighted ringtones in China that mobile phone users can download from the Sohu SMS and MMS channels, and transmit to their mobile phones by the wireless carriers China Mobile and China Unicom. These ringtones include renowned Japanese pop songs, J-POP and J-WAVE that already have a strong fan base among Chinese youth. The two companies plan to expand into additional wireless value-added services areas as well as online broadband content in the future.
With over 250 million mobile phone users, China has already become the biggest cell phone market in the world. China's discerning consumers demand the highest quality wireless value-added content and services to enhance the entertainment value of their mobile devices. Sohu SMS is a value-added services provider in China working closely with the mobile carriers and cell phone manufacturers to bring the best-of-breed entertainment services, comprising of over 300 products, to Chinese consumers. In MMS services, Sohu has been continuously developing products and services for MMS as well as for other 2.5G applications, such as Interactive Voice Response (IVR), WAP and K-Java, including exclusively branded content from the Walt Disney Internet Group.
Demand for quality interactive online content is rising as more Internet users in China are connecting via broadband services. By the end of 2003, 10.7 million out of 80 million Internet users had subscribed to online broadband services offered by China's fixed line telecom operators (China Telecom, China Netcom and China Railcom). The current growth trend of broadband services is expected to continue in coming years. Catering to this growing user base of broadband services, Sohu is expanding content offerings for broadband use, including the launch of a new Music Channel for broadband in January of 2004.