Snail sets pace in MVNO race

29 Jul 2014

Amidst reports that prohibitively high wholesale fees will render China’s nascent mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) unable to function effectively, games developer Snail claims to be making progress with its Snail Mobile MVNO service. Asia OTT writes that the firm’s MVNO offerings utilise a ‘free model’ developed from its experience in the gaming market, whilst its services are closely tied into that core business. Snail offers two types of tariff, the first of which, ‘Mian Store’, provides users with unlimited free data to download games from its app store whilst ‘Mian Card’ offers customers unlimited services for up to two years for a single one-off payment. The basic option ‘199 Mian Card’ costs CNY29 (USD4.7) and includes either 50MB of data or 50 minutes of calls per month for a year, and the premium offering ‘999 Mian Card’, costs CNY799 for unlimited voice services and 300MB of data per month for two years. Linking its MVNO service with its game business, Snail offers Mian Cards as bonuses for pre-ordering titles and as loyalty rewards for its customers. An unnamed official from Snail explained the company’s strategy: ‘Digital entertainment is our core business. The only way for us to build up the product’s image [is] by means of applying gaming philosophies to the telecommunications business, and implementing the principles of telecommunications to games. Such differentiated operation[s] is what MVNOs need to do. We will launch more interesting products in the ‘Mian Card’ line-up in the future, to make the mobile business more interesting.’

Snail recently took control of gaming terminal manufacturer iReadyGo, and the operator now plans to develop specialised game phones, integrated with its MVNO business. The takeover has given Snail complete control of the industry chain, an advantage it plans to exploit to full effect: ‘Acquiring iReadyGo is an important part of Snail’s strategy, which enables Snail to build an integrated, closed-loop communication service model with its games. Snail Mobile has an ecosystem composed of four business modules – the Mian Card, Mian Store, Mian Phone and sponsored data services.’

China, China Unicom