updated 5 Feb 2012, 08:13
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Fri, Feb 03, 2012
The New Paper
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What's the appeal?
by Charlene Chua

Kimberly who?

Kimberly Chia, and you can look for her on Apple's App Store.

The 17-year-old, who garnered attention after appearing in last year's Channel 8 drama On The Fringe, is deemed so marketable that her management, Noon Talk Media, forked out $50,000 to create an iPhoneapp for her.

That makes her likely the first local personality to have her own iPhone app.

The reason for the app, said her management, is to increase her popularity, especially among the young.

Kimberly has already amassed more than 36,000 fans - three times more than a celebrity here typically has - on her official Facebook page, which was set up when On The Fringe premiered last July.

The drama, which starred Li Nanxing and Fann Wong, also turned fellow newbies Ian Fang and Edwin Goh into overnight sensations.

The Kimberly-Chia app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes App Store. It has been downloaded 2,500 times since its launch five days ago.

It was on the Top 25 list (for free apps downloaded locally) at the App Store for the first two days after it was launched. It is still in the Top 100.

So what can one do with the Kimberly app?

The main attraction is a photo-booth feature that enables fans to "pose" with her from a wide variety of fun Kimberly photos.

There are also photo galleries offering Up Close and Behind The Scenes albums where her fans can get access to her childhood pictures.

Real-time updates on Kimberly are also available via her blog, Twitter account and Facebook page, which are linked to the app.

While some of her fans are ecstatic about the chance to have such close access to their idol, others were unhappy that they had to pay if they wanted extras featured in the application.

For example, a set of three exclusive pictures of Kimberly cost US$0.99 (S$1.25).

So far, Kimberly's app has received 16 ratings with an average of four out of five stars, with many rave reviews on the app site.

Wrote Jeffreymonte: "Awesome and she is so pretty."

But Rvn10 said: "It's a cool app for fans and all but for US$0.99 got three photos - which you can't save or zoom?! Oh come on, are you serious?!"

There were also detractors who took to online forums such as HardwareZone, and criticised the teen for being self-indulgent.

JGXENX wrote: "She think she Hollywood star?"

"She really got so popular meh?" wrote GameboyX.

When contacted, Kimberly said she was unaffected by all the negative comments. She told The New Paper: "Actually, this was all my management company's idea so I just went along with it.

"I am honoured that I am the first local celebrity to have an iPhone app."

Kimberly added that nasty comments are not new to her as she has faced them even when she was filming On The Fringe.

"The people who have made negative comments can say what they want, my response to them is 'thank you, I will work harder in the future'."

Noon Talk Media CEO Jacki Ng said: "I have followed the market very closely as I also own a software company.

"We wanted Kimberly to be the first local celebrity to have an iPhone app as through research we have found out that the demographic of her fans are teens and so will be excited about the app."

Noon Talk Media is a two-year-old company that handles movie production and artiste management.

So far, it has signed Kimberly and local newbie actor Aloysius Pang, for whom the company is also planning to develop an iPhone app.

Hefty investment

Mr Ng explained that fans have to pay for the photographs to ensure "sustainability", given the hefty investment needed for the app development.

The company, he added, has plans to upgrade the app and may "consider making the photographs free", depending on the response.

Kimberly's On The Fringe co-stars have shown their support and agreed that it would boost her popularity.

Said Fang, 24: "I haven't downloaded it, but if you ask me whether I want my own app, of course it's a yes!

"If detractors have bad things to say about the app, my opinion on this is that, they are still talking about it so at the end of the day, buzz is still created for her, which is a good thing." Goh admitted that the launch of Kimberly's app came as a surprise.

Said the 18-year-old: "I have downloaded the app, but I haven't used it.

"To me, she's a huge star so I think it's very fitting that she has an app. Besides, she looks so good everywhere in the app."

He added: "I think it's a great idea as her supporters are the younger crowd who belong to the more tech-savvy generation so this will be just nice for them."

Mr Paul Chan, Channel 8's vice-president of branding and promotions, also agreed that it was a good idea for stars to engage with their fans in innovative ways.

However, he cautioned that young stars should focus more on honing their skills than marketing themselves through social networking methods.

Said Mr Chan: "At the end of the day, it's all about Kimberly's sustainability as an artiste and this will still greatly depend on factors such as whether she can get good roles and if her acting skills have improved.

"I don't think that (this app) will start a trend where all MediaCorp artistes will get their own iPhone apps."

He added: "What can be done on Kimberly's app that hasn't been done already on Facebook? What can be that exclusive that requires an app?"

Kimberly, a Compassvale Secondary School student, has just received her O-level results and is enjoying her holidays.

She said she was likely to apply to join a diploma course at the Singapore Institute of Management before pursuing her dream of being a full-time actress.

Kimberly has just finished filming Show Hand, a Channel U drama about gamblers starring local veteran actors Chew Chor Meng and Christopher Lee.

She has also completed Dasmond Koh's Timeless Love. She co-stars with Joshua Ang and Cynthia Wang in the local movie that will premiere on March 8.

Said Kimberly: "My idol is (Korean boy band) Big Bang and I have downloaded all their apps. "So what I want to say to everyone is please download my app."


readers' comments
Hopefully she has a chance to develop before the "old Horses" at MediaCorp push her back to the dressing room cleaner, like the rest of budding new faces before......

Korean and China shows has surpassed Singapore drama, and now Thailand is catching up.. How can New bright light shines brightly, unless old log is remove from the fireplace.
Posted by MYOBAdvise on Sat, 4 Feb 2012 at 08:36 AM

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