SMS out? Technology evolves New Year greetings
BEIJING, Feb 11, 2013 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
The Chinese lunar New Year usually
witnesses two records: the world's most watched television gala
show, and its busiest telecommunications network.
Rather than visiting families and friends and passing on good
wishes in person on the first day of the lunar New Year, the
Chinese have grown used to sending greetings from their mobile
The Beijing branch of China Mobile, the country's biggest
telecom operator, said that in the capital city alone, a total of
831 million text messages were sent on the eve before this year's
Spring Festival, up 4.27 percent from a year ago. China Unicom
Beijing also recorded a peak volume of 8,000 text messages per
second around 7:45 p.m. that night, according to Sunday's edition
of the Beijing Evening News.
However, while media once dubbed telecom operators the biggest
money-maker on New Year's eve, industry insiders say the heyday
for the short message service (SMS) may have passed.
A January report from the Ministry of Industry and Information
Technology (MIIT) said the Chinese sent 897 billion SMS messages
in 2012, up only 2.1 percent year on year, whereas the number of
mobile users gained about 11 percent to 1.1 billion.
At the same time, the country now has 564 million netizens,
about 75 percent of whom can access the Internet from their cell
phones, according to the MIIT report.
For many netizens and mobile users, staying online tweeting
about the Spring Festival Gala Show run by China's state
television is a "ritual" as important as watching the program
"I brought my computer to the living room," netizen
"robin_taoran" said on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like service,
on lunar New Year's eve. "Watching the show on TV while tweeting
on Weibo is a must, just like Chinese steamed bread goes with
According to Dong Wenjun, Sina Weibo's director of operations,
Weibo users sent a total of 28,977 posts in the first second of
Feb. 10, the day of the Chinese New Year.
"Saying happy new year on Weibo has become a good custom," Dong
was quoted as saying by China National Radio.
For the country's 233 million 3G users, Weixin, a popular
smartphone application that allows voice messages and more
creatively edited greetings, also became a trend this year for its
convenience and low cost.
A survey run by Sootoo.com, a website monitoring the Chinese
Internet industry, showed that about one fourth of 7,854
respondents said before the Spring Festival that they would use
Weixin to send greetings this year.
However, paying a visit in person and SMS still ranked as the
most popular options for New Year greetings, with both choices
selected by 73 percent of respondents.
Although people have more ways to express their feelings thanks
to development of technology, face-to-face communication is
irreplaceable, said Zhong Xin, a professor of communications at
While some Chinese netizens are drafting "strategy guides" to
cope with questions from difficult relatives, others are starting
an online campaign pledging to leave cell phones behind during
family reunion dinners.
"It is perhaps necessary for young people to cherish family
ties, for they will have fewer and fewer relatives as time passes.
Loneliness is harder to deal with than the bustle," Zhong said.
More young Chinese are nowadays working and settling down in
cities far from home. Beijing had 7.7 million migrant residents as
of the end of 2012, and many of them are the only children in
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