Sunday, April 24, 2005

Asian cellphone mania

Advertising via mobile (WSJ): Cellphones now are defining a generation of Asians. There's nothing geeky about calling a South Korean a "technosexual," explains Jaehang Park, a strategy executive for Korean ad agency Cheil Communications Inc. "Devices like cellphones define how trend-setting you are," he says. One-quarter of all South Koreans maintain "cyworlds," photo Web logs that can be updated using a cameraphone.

Experimenting in Asia, U.S. companies have already learned that cellphones offer access to consumers' deepest desires and concerns. In Japan, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Whisper brand of feminine-hygiene products has signed up 80,000 women to receive messages about their "happy cycle." A February message: "Your skin gets even more sensitive and dry, especially during this period. ... Try not to use new skin-care products."

Anti-Japan protests organized via text msg and email (NYT): "Chain letter" e-mail and text messages urged people to boycott Japanese products or sign online petitions opposing Japanese ascension to the United Nations Security Council. Information about protests, including marching routes, was posted online or forwarded by e-mail. Banned video footage of protest violence in Shanghai could be downloaded off the Internet.

"Text messages, instant messaging and Internet bulletin boards have been the main channels for discussing this issue," said Fang Xingdong, chairman of, a Web site for China's growing community of bloggers. "Ten years ago, this would have been unthinkable."

In Shanghai, the local police even sent out a mass text message to cellphone users the day before that city's raucous protest. "We ask people to express your patriotic passion through the right channel, following the laws and maintaining order," the message said. Some marchers saw the message as a signal to proceed, while others took it as a warning.

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