China Mobile Offering Free App to Attract to International Chinese Callers


China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, is looking to attract customers in Canada, not by using its cellphone service but by introducing a free mobile app.

The international division at China Mobile has launch an app called Jego, which gives iPhone and Android based users a China-based phone number, free incoming calls, and low cost calling plans.

John Jiang, CTO at China Mobile International, says the app was launched to expand globally as it tries to compete for customers with Microsoft’s Skype and other free voice over the Internet protocol (VoIP) apps.

“The main goal is keeping and getting new customers. We’ll also get additional revenue from international calls. “This is our first step to get international coverage.”

VoIP apps are becoming more popular as customers look for ways to save money on long-distance communication.

Jiang estimates that there are over 1.3 million Chinese currently living in Canada and many of them keep their China Mobile phones and pay roaming fees to call relatives back home. For business users, Jego gives them a Chinese caller ID instead of showing a Canadian ID or no caller ID, since China occasionally blocks who is calling.

“Now people can call them back and they can show a local presence. You can have a closer business relationship.”

The Canadian-China Business Council is not totally convinced, saying Skype and other VoIP solutions are available to use to connect with China. Sarah Kutulakos, the executive director of the council, said:

“My guess is that this China Mobile app is just yet another in an increasing number of communications tools.”

Brent Johnston, an executive at Telus said:

“The overwhelming growth and drive in smartphone adoption actually prompts the adoption of these types of apps — BBM, What’s App, Skype, etc.”

Johnston says these types of app drive data plan adoption in addition to the addition of new voice and data plans, which gives customers a wider variety of options when picking a plan.

China Mobile International says that North America and South East Asia are among the top markets for downloading Jego. Troy Crandall, a telecom analyst, says the cost of offering an app like Jego is minimal in comparison to putting up expensive cellphone towers. He said:

“It just whets your appetite and gets you into the data side.”

China Mobile recently reported lower than expected quarterly earnings and has continued losing revenue to apps like WeChat and SMS texting. The carrier still remains the largest in the world with over 740 million wireless customers. China Mobile is set to carry the iPhone for the first time starting on January 17.

[via Times Colonist]