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Q&A: Christian K-L Yau Heilesen, CEO, Funmobile

Funmobile are a Hong Kong based mobile entertainment company that recently launched operations in the United States. In this Q&A, Games On Deck talks to CEO, Christian K-L Yau Heilesen, about the company's history, their choice to develop games in-house, and the future.

Mathew Kumar, Blogger

April 26, 2007

7 Min Read

2007_04_26_funmobile_title.jpgFunmobile are a Hong Kong based mobile entertainment company that recently launched operations in the United States. The company creates games, ringtones and wallpapers for mobile phones and distributes them via their own web portal, as well as through carriers, and its CEO, Christian K-L Yau Heilesen, started the company at age 19 after graduating high school in Denmark. In this Q&A, Games On Deck talks to Heilesen about the company's history, their choice to develop games in-house, and the future.

Games On Deck: Can you explain Funmobile's history?

Christian K-L Yau Heilesen: I was 14 when I started doing websites and simple web design during IT classes in Denmark. After graduating from high school in Denmark, I went to Hong Kong (it was 2002) and started an online internet business. After 1 year, I found myself slaving for my own business and working crazy hours, but it seemed the business was going nowhere. Ivor, now my Chief Technology Officer, who joined in early 2003 to help out with the internet business, suggested doing mobile gaming as his previous company was doing mobile gaming and it seemed successful. Funmobile was then formed in Hong Kong in 2003 and regional offices in Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, Singapore and the US were set-up over the years. Funmobile is proficient in developing and distributing mobile games and applications both on- and off-deck. With a distribution network in over 75 countries, Funmobile publishes and develops a wide range of  ringtones, logos, MMS, SMS, themes and innovative portable gaming for cellphones equipped with Java, Brew or Symbian technology to enrich people's mobile life with fun anywhere, and everywhere, at anytime.

GOD: What is it that makes Funmobile different from other mobile portals?

CKYH: Funmobile is one of the only wireless gaming companies that develops its titles in Hong Kong. By doing this, the games are created for the most state-of-the-art handhelds available in the word. When a game is brought to markets with older handheld technology, the game will contain graphics, sound and gameplay that pushes the technology to the limit.

In addition the company's web site provides a significant revenue stream which enables funmobile to introduce their games to consumers direct without relying completely on carriers. This is a unique position as many mobile game developers do not have this solution.

Christian K-L Yau Heilesen

GOD: Why did you decide to take a crack at the US market with Funmobile?

CKYH: We see that there are rooms for expansion in the US mobile entertainment market, as deregulation of the mobile industry opens a window of opportunity to providers of value-added mobile services and online community products.

We launched our mobile entertainment services in the US last year and we are confident that our portfolio of original IP will appeal to US consumers looking for unique entertainment experiences on their mobile phones. The combination of Funmobile's expertise in the creation of mobile entertainment services and strong relationships with carriers will result in bringing the highest quality and most entertaining mobile services to consumers throughout the US.

GOD: What importance do mobile games have for you as a mobile entertainment company?

CKYH: The video gaming industry is already mature and rivals the movie and the music industry in terms of revenue. Traditionally, there have been three ways that video games have been played - Console gaming (PS3, Xbox360 etc.), PC gaming and handheld games (Nintendo DS). Mobile games were seen as a fourth platform for video games. With the increase in mobile phones offering exciting gaming experience, consumers are crying out for quality games. It is estimated that the mobile gaming market will be worth over US$11.2bn by 2010 with 15 per cent of people downloading and playing a game on their handset - a market not to be missed out on.

GOD: You develop your own games rather than license them. Why did you choose to take this route?

CKYH: In developing our own games, we have total control in both quality and content distribution. As I have mentioned before, Funmobile is one of the only wireless gaming companies that develops its titles in Hong Kong. By doing this, the games are created for the most state-of-the-art handhelds available in the world.

GOD: Can you discuss your game development?

CKYH: We have around 70 staff in Hong Kong, Malaysia and the US working for our mobile game development which includes gameplay design, graphic design, program design and implementation, QC.

GOD: How do you deal with the vast number of carriers and handsets that are out there?

CKYH: We have a well established Business Development team to take care the vast number of carriers around the world. We work closely with our carriers and distributors, and they provide us with their top handsets sales/ download performance information so that we can take those top handsets as our priority in porting games. Also, we have a strong relationship with software companies to work on their handset emulators. Right now, Funmobile ports games to over 210 different handsets including both GSM and CDMA worldwide.

Mr. Last Minute and Heart of Mechanics, Funmobile developed titles.

GOD: Does your game development have a particular philosophy behind it?

CKYH: First of all, we have to do a research on the demographic pattern for that specific market. Then, we have to understand what they need and will develop games that suit those audiences. Also, we will produce games that have a universal appeal.

GOD: What is Funmobile's revenue stream? Do you have any interest, for example, in the burgeoning ad-supported content market?

CKYH: Funmobile's revenue is derived from selling our products to consumers worldwide as well as royalties from carriers, third party providers and other users of our products.

We have a portfolio of over 14,600 product items delivered via premium SMS, standard SMS, WAP and our websites. The rich suite of mobile entertainment and community products spans from monotone and polytonic ringtones, true tones, interactive and mobile games, screensavers, jokes , horoscope, wallpapers, graphics, to picture messages.

Right now, we do not have a specific plan in doing ad-supported content, however, we will not rule out any possibilities in entering that market.

GOD: What are your plans for the future?

CKYH: 3D is definitely one of the most important things on our agenda. Honestly, 2D has reached its limit, but it does not mean that we will stop producing 2D games. The U.S. is still predominantly a 2D market and most people still own a 2D phone, so we will continue to develop and support this format. However, as we continue to support the current consumer demands, we are also looking forward to the future; and the future clearly indicates that it will focus heavily on 3D. We have already allocated half of our resources in developing 3D games. I am sure that as handsets become more sophisticated, games will become more advanced.

For Flash technology, it powers so many Web games and is making its way into phones. Apparently over 100 million handheld devices now have the technology inside. Developers are already creating attractive-looking games that use Flash Lite, and Funmobile is also in the testing stage for those games. I expected this year, Flash Lite games will become another mega-hit in the mobile gaming world and it could be the technology that kick starts viral advertising games on mobile, just like Flash has done before on the Web.

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About the Author(s)

Mathew Kumar


Mathew Kumar is a graduate of Computer Games Technology at the University of Paisley, Scotland, and is now a freelance journalist in Toronto, Canada.

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