A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Digital Comics on 3G Cellphones: A long wait?

The world's first 3G (Third Generation) is a folding camera equipped mobile phone that offers video conferencing, I-mode Internet access service and a data card type for notebook computers to link to the Internet. They are capable of transmitting data at 64 to 384 kilobits per second, six to 40 times faster than the slowest 9.6 kbps used for I-mode services. 3G technology is essential for any telecom company to stay competitive globally. (Source: "3G can wait, says Smart Exec" article by Lynda B. Valencia, Bulletin Today newspaper, September 2, 2005 issue)

More than this, 3G mobile phones are also seen, besides fourth generation televison mobile phones, as one of several possible venues for digital comics. 3G came out three years ago in Europe and has an established market in Britain, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan.

However, Smart Communications, Inc., the Philippines' leading mobile operator announced that it was not yet ready for 3G as individual handsets were still expensive and not yet available in commercial quantities in the Asian region. According to Atty. Rogelio V. Quevedo, Head Legal Counsel of Smart, 3G handsets should be priced below US$150 and not more than Php 8,000.00. Accordingly, Smart is willing to wait.

Being a partner of Japan's NTT DoCoMo, and aware that 3G is being used enthusiastically in Japan, Smart is confident that once the Philippine market is ready for 3G it will, as it did in the past, apply the same and overtake its competitors with the aid of its key partners and resources.

Smart President and CEO Napoleon Nazareno observed that the Philippine market will inevitably shift to 3G but that the process would be "evolutionary" and not "revolutionary". This notwithstanding, Smart realizes the significance of this new technology and is committed to it. But as previously stated, Smart can only but wait until the cost of 3G goes down and becomes affordable to the Philippine market. This and also possibly, Smart's monitoring of the development in 4G T.V. cellphones.

Globe Telecom on the other hand, has completed testing its network for 3G readiness and appears to be poised to take the lead.

With a slide in profits this year, cellphone companies are aware that no new subscribers will be coming in and that they will have to focus now on maintaining their subscribers by presenting more gimmicks and features in the cellphone. To keep the business afloat, consumer interest has to be maintained. Cellphones with new advanced features and novel content is the key. And what could be more novel than digital comics or comic strips on the cellphone?

A note of warning though. House Bill 4626 is pending in Congress authored by Rep. Danilo Suarez of Quezon Province, proposing a 10% ad valorem tax on cellphones that wil adopt the 3G. The reason given is that with the prevailing fiscal difficulties facing the government, it has to get its funds from all available sources possible to finance its flagship projects.

The above notwithstanding, Filipino digital comics pioneers may consider besides being mere content providers of cellphone companies, eliminating at the onset the cellphone middleman and explore instead the possibility of individually promoting their respective websites. These sites would contain their individual digital comics work that could be downloaded for a minimal fee through the 3G handset. And if later modifications of 3G technology would allow, from the handset, the digitized comics product could then be transmitted further for viewing on a bigger computer monitor or television screen. Payment to the comics creator's account could be made directly via Smart money or Globe G-Cash.

Positioning early in anticipation of the future would certainly be a good investment. And for that, you don't need a long wait.


Blogger Jonas Diego said...

I know of a site who's developing mobile delivery capabilities (internationally). I think they'll be getting a small percentage of the profits you make from using their site.

They're currently writing the code for it and hopefully should be in beta testing soon. I am most eagerly awaiting their debut. :)

12:43 PM

Blogger aklas isip said...

Just been to pinoytechblog and read about this company, Gibeon, about to launch "indie" pinoy komiks via Smart's WAP portal this September, 2005. P30 per download, I gather. Saw your name there as among the contributing sequential artists. Great. Hope you guys succeed in this endeavor.

So I guess my blog entry is old news, huh? I've been overtaken by technology. Hope you can notify me when your "smart" comics come out.

About that site developing mobile delivery capabilities, yes I'm definitely interested, thank you. What's the site's url, please? :)

9:06 PM

Blogger Jonas Diego said...

Email mo na lang ako. :)


5:21 PM

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