Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Sony announced that it is closing its Portable-TV (P-TV) service in Japan, a service that is seen as the equivalent of what the company is bringing to UK and Ireland. Earlier, the company announced that it has entered into a deal with Sky Television to bring on-demand video to PlayStation Portable owners in the two countries. The service is also expected to widen to cover Europe in the future. All of P-TV's downloadable media is DRM-protected (Digital Rights Management) and only accessible for a limited amount of time - ranging from 5-30 days. Media sources, however, indicated that Sony has plans to bring improved service, which is similar, in the future for Japanese clients.
ò Observers believe Hitachi Ltd. could be first to market a digital video camcorder based on Blu-ray Disc. The company said that it is set put two such cameras on sale at the end of this month in Japan and later this year in North America. The cameras will use a new variety of Blu-ray Disc that is 8 centimeters in diameter. Hitachi Maxell said it will put the 7.5G-byte discs on sale in August. The DZ-BD70 will be based solely on the discs and the DZ-BD7H is a hybrid model with 30G-byte hard disk drive. The company said it to launch both cameras in Japan on August 30th. Even as Hitachi has not really decided on a price in Japan, the device is already being advertised online for $1,362 for the DZ-BD70 and US$1,567 for the DZ-BD7H. They will be available in North America in October and will cost $1,299 and $1,499 respectively.
ò Pioneer Corp. announced that it will launch its first full high-definition plasma TVs in October, a move that may enable it to join its rivals such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. in the market. Pioneer's plasma operations went through a quarterly loss in April-June, with the company affected by intense competition in the flat TV market, where plasma televisions are losing market share to rival liquid crystal display (LCD) models. Pioneer's new 50- and 60-inch full high-definition sets, featuring an ability to recreate deeper black than conventional models, are expected to sell for $6,060 and $8,340 in Japan, compared to Matsushita's 50-inch full high-definition plasma TVs, which sell for $3,811.
ò Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT), Japan's biggest telecommunications company, reported a 3.4 percent rise in its group net profit for the April-June quarter, which the company ascribed to a diminished tax payment bought about by NTT DoCoMoÆs share buyback. The companyÆs net profit climbed to 149.5 billion yen ($1.2 billion) from 144.6 billion yen ($1.2 billion) the same period a year earlier. NTT DoCoMo is the companyÆs subsidiary. The company's group revenue registered a 1.5 percent decline to 2.5 trillion yen ($21.8 billion) from 2.6 trillion yen ($22 billion) even as revenue from broadband Internet access services posted a growth. NTTÆs group operating profit also posted a 17 percent drop to 299.2 billion yen ($2.5 billion) from 359.1 billion yen ($3 billion), the decline brought about by higher marketing and other operational costs in the mobile phone and system integration businesses. The company retained its outlook for the fiscal year through March, with the forecast of a group net profit reaching 460 billion yen ($3.8 billion) on revenues of 10.7 trillion yen ($90.1 billion).
ò TutorVista, a Bangalore-based company, is entering the English education market in South Korea through a person-to-person online tutoring service known as e-tutoring, or ôeducation outsourcing.ö The founder and the CEO of the company said TutorVista is preparing to open a Korean-language site this month to launch full e-tutoring programs for individual students and companies. The e-tutoring course uses broadband Internet and is described as having the tutor and the student come together in a virtual classroom set up with voice chat and an electronic whiteboard. It is different from existing online classes in Korea such as MegaStudy, which is a one-way lecture, where the student watches recorded course materials. The company said it currently has more than 2,000 students in the U.S., 200 in Britain, and some 700 teachers in India who work at home. TutorVista said it aims to register some 10,000 students from all over the world by the end of 2007. The private tutoring industry in South Korea is estimated to be worth about 15 trillion won (US$16.3 billion) every year.
ò Industry sources said Google is considering moving some of its servers to South Korea from the US. The countryÆs Ministry of Information and Communication revealed that Google Korea had already asked for its US head office to approve the plan. Observers note that the plan cannot take place quickly. According to one of its local officials, the transfer is aimed at responding better to local regulations. One of the issues against Google is that it has not secured the age-authentication system, which is an important regulation the country. Other search engines such as the leading NHN and the runner-up player Daum check on ages of users, who search for adult-only Internet sites. Google said it plans to introduce an adult-checking system this month but the firm is suffering setbacks in order to do so because its database servers are in the U.S.
ò Korea Telecom announced its plans to launch an Internet protocol television service (IPTV) in Russia first, ahead of its launch in South Korea. The company presently offers an Internet TV service in South Korea called Mega TV. Broadcast regulations on real-time broadcasting in the country, however, make the offering incomplete. KT works through an affiliate NTC which has an 80 percent stake in the service in Russia. NTC has secured 30 Russian broadcast channels and plans to air real-time broadcasts over the internet. It will also provide movies, TV programmes and sports content via video on demand (VOD).
ò LG Telecom, South Korea's smallest wireless operator, announced its decision to launch 3G services in Seoul, Gyeonggi Province and other metropolitan areas next month. Under the offering, the company said its subscribers will be able to enjoy a variety of 3G offerings such as video calls, videoconferencing and fast data transmission. SK Telecom and KTF launched their 3G services in 2007. KTF has already 1.2 million 3G users and SK Telecom has about 0.5 million over the past year.
ò KTF announced its plans offer a mobile traffic service that will allow subscribers to view the traffic situations across Seoul and all national highways via their mobile phones. KTF said the video will be coming from CCTVs placed on 127 roads in Seoul and 93 highways by the Korea Highway Corporation and Seoul Metropolitan Facilities Management Corporation. The service will include traffic speed and other information. Clients must go through KTF's wireless Internet service and download a program, with the monthly fee placed at 4,000 won ($4).
ò Media sources said Samsung Electronics is discussing with Adidas plans to develop a mobile phone jointly. The Adidas Phone is described as being able to calculate exercise distance and spent calories. It is also fitted with an audio player that plays to the userÆs heartbeat. A Samsung Electronics company official confirmed the news of the talks but also clarified that discussions have not taken place yet, as the two companies are in the development stage of the device. Earlier, Samsung was reportedly in talks with Armani to develop a phone bearing the Italian luxury brandÆs name.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Pandora TV, the countryÆs pioneer of world's user created contents (UCC), announced its decision to go global by moving its server to Japan. With the plan, Pandora TV said it will introduce a platform of higher quality moving images for UCC products. The company said it aims to allow a posting or downloading of high quality moving images at a speed of 5 megabytes a second in the global version. At present, most of local and foreign sites are restricted to post moving images at the rate of between 500 and 700KB a second. Pandora TV said it was able to secure global lines by entering into an agreement with Japan's NTT and U.S. No. 1 contents delivery network (CDN) Akamai. The company said it is in talks with Japan's shopping mall site, La Kunten, and portal site Excited about the supply of the high quality moving image platform. Pandora TV said it also plans to seek tie-up with U.S. community sites in the image platform sector.
ò VirtualLogix, Inc., the Real-Time Virtualisation company and MDS Technology, the leading South Korean development solution company, announced a distribution partnership to provide local access, sales and support for VirtualLogixÆs real-time virtualization software solutions. The agreement will see MDS Technology bring its embedded systems expertise and offer advanced development and integration services to customers. Industry analysts see the partnership as expanding VirtualLogixÆs coverage in South Korea, as part of its Asia expansion plan. MDS Technology, located in Seoul, Korea, is the leading South Korean development solution company, with clients that include Samsung, LG, Pantech, and SK Telecom. VirtualLogix, Inc., with its VirtualLogix VLX enables multiple operating system environments to run concurrently on shared hardware and provides a range of performance, fault tolerance and security options to address specific market requirements.
ò Navteq, the world's leading digital map provider, said it has secured a contract to supply its products for navigation devices for cars from Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. Digital maps are used in navigation devices and mobile phones. Navteq accounts for 60 percent of the world's market. The Navteq maps will first be used in Hyundai-Kia cars sold in North America and Europe, and later in vehicles for Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
ò Media sources said Hynix Semiconductor Inc., the world's second-largest computer memory chip maker, has announced signing of a memorandum of understanding to sell its chip- making production line to SMC Technologies Corp. (CSMC) of China. According to its spokesperson, the Chinese unit of Hynix has recently signed a preliminary deal with CSCM to sell the production line. Earlier reports also indicated that Hynix may sell the chip production line to CSMC in a deal estimated to be worth $400 million by the end of 2007. Hynix said it is shifting its focus on adding production facilities for profitable NAND chips, used in digital cameras and other portable gadgets.
ò Media sources said the founder and CEO of Alibaba had confirmed for the first time to company employees the decision that Alibaba's B2B business will initiate its IPO procedure in Hong Kong. The official said that Alibaba has indeed submitted an application to Hong Kong Joint Stock Exchange Market. This confirms what has been perceived as a rumor for a long time. The company will reportedly raise about HK$7.8 billion (US$996.3 million) through this public offering, with the proceeds to be used for its global expansion and B2B platform improvements.
ò Sohu.com reported for the second quarter ended June 30, 2007 a non-GAAP net income of $5.7 million, down from non-GAAP $8.4 million it posted in the second quarter of 2006. The company said advertising revenues grew 38 percent to US$26.6 million, with its non-advertising revenue declining by 6 percent to $10.6 million. SohuÆs total revenues went up 14 percent to $39 million. For second quarter of 2007, Sohu reported operating expenses hitting $18.7 million. Its non-GAAP operating expenses totaled $16.7 million, an increase of 22 percent from the previous quarter. Sohu estimates total revenues for third quarter 2007 to be between $45 million to $47 million, with advertising revenues forecast to hit between US$30 million to US$31 million, and its non-advertising revenues predicted to be between US$15 million US$16 million. The company looks to its brand advertising revenues for the third quarter of 2007 to be between US$28.5 million to US$29.5 million.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò The9 Limited, a leading online game operator in China, announced that it has entered into an agreement with Yedang Entertainment,, a leading entertainment business publisher in South Korea, and T3 Entertainment Co. Ltd., a leading online game developer in South Korea. The agreement will allow The9 to have an exclusive license to operate Audition in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. Under the agreement, The9Æs exclusive license of Audition will be good for commercial launch date of the game in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. The deal will see The9 paying a milestone-based license fee in the amount of $8 million and a royalty equal to 30 percent of the game revenues provided that the minimum royalty payable over the license period shall be no less than $35 million. Audition is an advanced casual dancing online game and is currently one of the most popular casual games in mainland China. The agreement reflects The9's recognition of Audition's high game quality, and the game's publisher and developer's confidence in The9's track record as a leading online game operator in China. The game is expected to continue its success story in China. Earlier in May this year, The9 also obtained the exclusive license to operate Audition 2, the sequel to Audition, in mainland China.
ò Industry sources said Nokia has formalised the commercialisation of its mobile phone payment service in Beijing, Guangzhou and Xiamen. The company said the mobile phone payment service is based on Near Field Communication, an upgraded technology of RFID, which enables mobile phones to realize e-payment and data downloading services. The service is expected to enable mobile phone users to pay their transportation fees, film tickets and food.
ò According to ChinaÆs Ministry of Information Industry, the countryÆs software is still expanding in the first half of this year, with its income posting a 23 percent rise from the previous year and bringing the amount beyond 260 billion yuan ($34 billion). The report noted how sectors involving software services, system integration and IC design have posted faster growth. The ministry said 4 municipalities and provinces namely Beijing, Jiangsu, Guangdong and Shanghai posted respective software industry revenue all going beyond US$20 billion yuan ($2.6 billion).
ò Industry sources said Microsoft China has signed a memorandum of understanding on a global strategic partnership with Bright Oceans Corporation Communications (BOCO). The agreement has been described as allowing the parties to work jointly on training, solution development, Microsoft product deployment as well as joint marketing. BOCO Communications is a company into telecom operation support systems, information security products, value-added services and transportation.
ò Lenovo Group reported a 13 percent climb in its consolidated revenue to $3.9 billion for its first fiscal quarter of 2007 to 2008, ended June 30, 2007. Excluding restructuring charges made in the first quarter, pre-tax income registered a 258 percent surge to $123 million. The company said its net cash reserves as of June 30, 2007 totaled $1.3 billion. Lenovo said its worldwide PC shipments posted a growth of more than 22 percent in the quarter, results which are ahead of the industry average growth of approximately 13 percent.
ò Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) disclosed for the quarter ended June 30, 2007 a net loss of $2.1 million, compared to a net income of $8.8 million it posted in the first quarter. The company said revenues grew 3.7 percent to $374.8 million from the second quarter in 2006 even as it went down by 3.5 percent from $388.3 million sequentially. Taiwan
ò Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) disclosed plans to export Wi-Fi/Fixed WiMAX integrated solutions to the Philippines, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries. The company said it will work with Huawei Technologies, a large China-based maker of communication/network equipment, according to CHT. The reports noted that the Taiwan government aims to make broadband Internet-access service available in every remote location and sparsely populated area in Taiwan.
ò Garmin announced that it is building its third Taiwan factory in northern Taiwan as a response to the increasing demand for PND (portable navigation device) products. Garmin is considered the world's largest vendor of GPS products. The latest expansion project comes after the company has completed the build-out of its second Taiwan factory, which expands the number of its production lines from 21 to 31. Garmin reported that its shipments of PNDs went up 99 percent to 2.5 million units in the second quarter from the same quarter in 2006.
ò Davicom Semiconductor, a United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) subsidiary on networking solutions design, announced that its IPO will be conducted in Taiwan soon. The company scheduled its offering for August 6th with a share price of NT$56 ($1.7). According to the company filing, more than 200,000 individual investors have registered to participate in the IPO. Davicom said it holds about 80 percent of the market share in the region. UMC Capital is the largest institutional shareholder at Davicom with a stake of 18.6 percent while Foxconn Electronics' (Hon Hai Precision Industry's) venture capital company maintains a 3.4 percent stake.
ò Powerchip Semiconductor Corporation (PSC) and Rexchip Electronics announced that they have secured a NT$59 billion ($1.8 billion) syndicated loan with 19 banks in Taiwan, with the fund to be used for company expansion. Rexchip Electronics is PSCÆs joint venture with Elpida Memory. Cathay United Bank, the bank underwriting the loan, stated that out of the US$1.8 billion, PSC will receive NT$20 billion (US$606.6 million) while Rexchip will get NT$39 billion (US$1.1 billion).
ò Pacific Internet (Hong Kong) Limited, the wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Internet Limited, Asia Pacific's largest telco-independent Internet Communications Solutions Provider (ICSP) by geographic reach, announced the launch of its regional business-grade VoIP service. Called PacNet Vocal, the service is described as providing a genuine regional IP telephony solution covering some 7 countries. Its launching is also seen as marking a new chapter for the business development of Pacific Internet Hong Kong. Pacific Internet (Hong Kong) Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Pacific Internet Limited offering the full range of IP-based communications solutions, including data, voice, security, messaging, remote access, hosting and cross border connectivity for business users in Hong Kong and Greater China.
ò Media sources said PCCW-HKT Telephone, a unit of Hong Kong's largest phone company, had its outlook changed to positive from stable by Standard & Poor's, a decision based on the improved cash flow of PCCW Ltd. According to an S&P credit analyst, the decision to revise can be ascribed to the steady improvement in profitability of the TV and mobile businesses of its parent and underscores PCCW-HKT's leading position in Hong Kong's fixed-line telecommunications market. The decision of Standard & PoorÆs is seen as making it possible for PCCW-HKT to cut borrowing costs.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Malaysia and Indonesia announced entering into an agreement to strengthen cooperation in broadcasting, information and culture, and organise news, documentary and journalist exchange programs. The agreement also covers news and visual exchange between RTM (Radio Television Malaysia) and TVRI (Indonesian State Television) involving breaking news and disasters. The two countries also entered an alliance to help the private sector involved in TV and radio production to expand their contributions in the context of Indonesia-Malaysia broadcasting cooperation.
ò ABS-CBN Global, the North America-based subsidiary of ABS-CBN Broadcasting, announced that Comcast, the nation's leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services, has added Filipino On Demand to its signature ON DEMAND service. The new subscription-video-on-demand (SVOD) service will feature 25 hours of content, with new programming available regularly. The new service is now available in many major Comcast markets nationwide, including the San Francisco Bay Area and Central California; Seattle; Portland; Chicago; Detroit; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; and South Florida. With 24.1 million cable customers, 12.4 million high-speed Internet customers, and 3.5 million voice customers. Comcast is involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable systems and in the delivery of programming content.
ò Smart Communicationsof the Philippines announced its entering into an agreement with Inmarsat, a mobile satellite communications provider, to expand their global satellite phone services. The companies said the initial extension of service will cover India, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Ocean. Smart officials say the deal will allow the companies to offer coverage on nearly a global basis by 2009. Industry analysts see the alliance as enabling users of the company's satellite phone services, Smart Link, access to a wider geographic coverage that can support voice call services and data connectivity. The agreement will see Smart making an investment of US$5 million to set up a gateway facility and ground infrastructure in the country.