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Mobile magic lures entertainment industry

From Lian Pek
CNN Hong Kong

HONG KONG, China (CNN) --Interactivity is a longtime buzzword in the entertainment industry and seen as crucial to keeping bums on seats.

But it's the mobile phone that's finally opening doors to that interactive world.

The entertainment industry is game for a new challenge.

Faced with a shrinking pool of couch potatoes, TV producers are going interactive to keep viewers glued to the box.

Case in point: the upcoming interactive quiz show "Everyone Wins", to be launched in both Hong Kong and Singapore, is all about getting home viewers in on the game.

All they need to do is pick up their telephones and text in their answers.

"By having this interactive component, you're getting the audience to watch the programme live," says Robert Chua of Robert Chua Productions.

"Which is what's important so that it will not be taped and then watched later. Because once its taped and watched later. People will skip the commercials," according to Chua.

But even if viewers don't skip the commercials now, Andrew Chetham a senior analyst at the Gartner Group says, "the media industry knows it can't rely on advertising. Not only is advertising going down, it may not be there as a business model in the future."

The future is phones

The business model of the future seems to lie in the humble mobile phone.

With advertising revenue diminishing, entertainment companies are eyeing that fresh line of SMS takings from telecom companies.

"The mobile phone has become like a personal butler. As simple as remote control to a TV. It's your personal access to multi-media extravaganza," says Chris Mong.

Mong is the brains behind, the Hong Kong software developer that's putting Internet-connected plasma screens into cafes, clubs and restaurants and turning them into instant game arcades.

To play, all you need to do is dial up a phone number. Your mobile handset becomes the de facto games console.

But more than that, it's every advertisers profiling dream come true...minus those expensive consumer surveys.

Ultimate profiling

"If I may relate to the latest movie, 'Minority Report'. You know, when Tom Cruise passes by into Gap it says welcome Mr Sakamoto San. That's the profiling. That's the ultimate profiling that the retail outlet people want. We're not that advanced yet on optical recognition," comments Mong.

"But guess what? The mobile phone is ... your ID. (That) same idea can happen right now."

We used to think some lower-scale computer keyboard would do the trick, but technology always surprises.

The mobile phone is today's hot new gateway to the interactive world simply because nearly everyone has one. And those who don't -- it's only a matter of time.

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