[bangkok post] Advanced Info Service (AIS) has joined with Microsoft to introduce a 'Chat Sim' for mobile phones, a first in Asia-Pacific, aiming to spur its mobile data business.
The two companies developed the Chat Sim, which embeds MSN Windows Live Messenger and can be used in all normal phones, in response to the fast-growing use of mobile social networking, said Somchai Lertsutiwong, executive vice-president of the country's largest mobile operator.
"Target groups are MSN users who don't own smartphones and our existing One-2-Call users who enjoy using MSN online," he said.
AIS estimates its One-2-Call prepaid customers will reach 27 million and 20%, fewer than 6 million, own smartphones.
"We believe that our new product will not reduce revenue from short message service because the new product serves a different purpose of communication," said Anake Anantwatanapong, assistant vice-president for prepaid management of AIS.
The company estimated that the overall telecommunication market will grow 5% this year, above the previous target of 3%, as the country's economy was recovering. Mobile data business may grow 30% this year, with AIS holding more than a 50% market share.
Mark Britt, Microsoft's general manager for consumer and online services in Asia-Pacific, said the company would benefit because more people would have easier access to MSN. Currently, 6.5 million Thais have MSN accounts and almost 10 million have Hotmail accounts.
AIS, MSN offer Chat Sim