GUANGZHOU -- China Mobile will launch an integrated service, which will feature voice/video calls and multi-media messages, next year in a move to lure customers away from other similar applications.
The company's integrated service will be an "all under one roof" application, combining the functions of other popular applications such as Skype, WeChat and QQ.
The surge in messaging and social networking apps, which even offer real-time voice calls, has sparked industry concerns as phones are no longer used in the "traditional" sense any more -- for phone calls, which was once the main pillar of operators' revenue and profits.
In China, these applications are based on data flow, users pay telecom operators fees to secure a suitable data package.
Analysts see the new service by China Mobile, the nation's largest wireless service provider with more than 800 million users, as a move to consolidate its market presence. Some have even said it may change the current social networking landscape.
"The new voice service provided by China Mobile will ensure smooth and high-definition audio and video telecommunication using VoLTE technology. Meanwhile, through the new messaging service, users can send text, pictures, video and voice messages to other cellphones," said China Mobile chief executive officer Li Yue at the company's global partners conference held in Guangzhou on Friday.
VoLTE, short for Voice over LTE, is an important development as it sends speech as data.
The company said that the commercial operation of the integrated service was set to begin mid-2015. It also expects that major smart phone manufactures, including Samsung, and domestic producers, including Huawei; Coolpad; ZTE; and Lenovo, will launch new phone models that comply with the new integrated service in the first quarter next year.