UMS providers penetrate Asian markets

Highlighting the emerging e-business trends in Asia, ZDNetAsia provides a case study ofthree UMS providers in this region. They show a trend towards creating more partnerships as the fromula for successrather than the traditional competitive model.
Written by Joe Rebeiro, Contributor
Highlighting the emerging e-business trends in Asia, ZDNetAsia provides a case study of three UMS providers in this region. They show a trend towards creating more partnerships as the fromula for success rather than the traditional competitive model.
by Elaine Ng, exclusive to ZDNetAsia

SINGAPORE, 7 June 2000 -- As unified Messaging Service (UMS) providers extend their operations in Asia, more partnerships between local telcos and content providers are forged to allow the companies to share technology and market.

"Application content and technology will drive mobile commerce," said Mr. Montgomery Hong, Senior Partner of Andersen Consulting, this morning at CommunicAsia2000.

Mr. Montgomery Hong added that a niche strategy is important and companies should not try to compete with one another but should go into digital partnering.

Showing the way for future e-business trends are UMS providers who are establishing more bases in the Asian region together with partners in their respective countries.

Singapore-based 2bSURE.com has a partnership with local free-to-air news channel, Channel News Asia. This allows the UMS provider to have access to news content while it provides the technological infrastructure, said Ms. Victoria Woo, Vice President of Business Development of 2bSURE.com.

The company provides services to six cities in Asia and in San Francisco. It intends to expand its services to 18 cities by the end of the year.

Understanding the benefits of such a symbiotic partnership is fellow UMS provider, t2mail.com. Its strategic partners include China Online, Pacific Internet, MPH Online and Hewlett-Packard. t2mail.com is expected to announce the names of its new partners in about two weeks, said CEO David Shick. "They will not be anything less than our current partners but will be familiar names," he added.

Indeed, not only is the formation of partnerships important, UMS providers are scouting big names in the telcos and ISP industry to help them establish more bases in Asia.

2bSURE.com is looking for about four or five large portals in Asia to form partnerships with, by the end of the year, said Regional marketing
communications manager, Ms. Lezann Chong.

"We want to establish a strong foundation in Asia over the next three months," she said.

However, US-based Qrio.com, the youngest of the three UMS providers, hopes to break in by collaborating with small technology businesses instead.

"Big-players have difficulty entering into partnerships. It is easier for small business because it is easy for them to turn around. Also the people from small businesses are more tech-savvy," said Marketing Manager, Mr. George Hu.

Qrio.com provides UMS services in California and Seoul and are looking for partners to work with in Singapore. At CommunicAsia2000, Mr. Hu said, "This is our first foreign marketing. We're still testing the waters."

He added that the company is expanding its services in the US by providing free local phone calls in 400 cities. There are no concrete plans to provide more services in Asian countries yet, said Mr. Hu.

But 2bSURE.com and t2mail.com are gearing up to invest in the Asian market with the introduction of multi-language UMS services. They are focusing on business-to-business services.

Ms. Chong said that 80 per cent of 2bSURE.com is in business-to-business services while consumers are provided with free service so that they have "more options".

t2mail.com is also focusing its energies on business-to-business services. Mr. Shick said that the company wants to provide its services to SMEs and large corporations. About 10 to 15 million dollars of investment is made to continue R&D and marketing for the company.

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