While Japan’s I-mode failed to be adopted in other countries and WAP also did not succeed in promoting mobile data services, a rather simple technology of SMS made its way to facilitate the growth of mobile data services in China. In this paper, we conduct a case study based on actor- network theory in order to explain 1) how mobile data services are developed and adopted in China, 2) what is the role of SMS in facilitating the development of mobile data services, and 3) what technological and social factors attribute to the adoption process of mobile data services. Drawing upon actor-network theory (ANT), this paper investigates longitudinally the driving forces fueling the development of data services in the China market. By analyzing the network structures formed by the various actors such as mobile data service providers, government departments, technical artifacts, customers, etc., we can better understand the dynamics of the mobile data service development in China and provide valuable references for the rest of the world.