a-week-in-tech-aug-1521

A week in tech, Aug 15-21

A roundup of all the latest tech news.
Japan

Media, Entertainment and Gaming
òNintendo Co. announced plans to expand its presence in South Korea by helping the country's software makers to develop localised computer game programs. The South Korean market is considered one of the worldÆs fastest-growing game markets but is currently dominated by local on-line programmers. Nintendo Korea said the South Korean market is important for its global strategy, with the countryÆs game industry market estimated at $8.2 billion in 2006 and US$670 million in exports. Nintendo's plans, which cover its cooperative tie-up with Nexon Corp. and other South Korean companies, will involve both financial and technological support.
Nintendo launched its Korean operations early in January by introducing its latest portable game machine, Nintendo DS Lite, which is an advanced version of Nintendo DS. The company has so far sold about 30 million DS devises worldwide. In the first four months of its debut in South Korea, Nintendo sold 270,000 DS Lite versions, a figure that is considered by analysts as significant given that it is a country where online games such as Lineage and other massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs) are dominating the market.

Internet
òAccording to the countryÆs communications minister, Japan will start researching and developing technology for a new generation network to replace the Internet. The official said an organisation will be set up this fall with cooperation from businesses, academia and the government to promote the technology. It is estimated that some Ñ7.8 billion ($68 million) will be sought for the project in the fiscal 2008 budget. The new technology is envisioned to be faster and more reliable than the current Internet and Japan is looking to lead the development of post-Internet technology.

òCable broadcaster Usen Corp. has decided to merge the operations of its subsidiaries UCOM Corp., a high-speed Internet service provider, and MEDiA K.K., an Internet protocol telephone service provider, by October. In the latest business year to August 31, 2006, UCOM reported a 37.5% rise in its net profit to Ñ242 million ($2.1 million) from the previous year, on sales of Ñ24.3 million. MEDiA, however, posted a net loss of Ñ332 million in the same year. Usen currently holds a 47.9% stake in UCOM and 75.2% in MEDiA.

Mobile/Wireless
òIndustry sources say the Japanese government has issued an order for the Tokyo-based unit of Finnish mobile phone firm Nokia Corp. to submit a report on the recent problems of mobile phone batteries made by Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. The countryÆs Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued the order under a law on safety of consumer products. Nokia Japan, which sells handsets equipped with Matsushita-made batteries in Japan, has been ordered to give details of two incidents in Japan and other cases abroad. Ministry officials said if Nokia Japan fails to submit a report within one week or produces an unsatisfactory report, the company will be fined up to Ñ300,000($2,627). The order follows an announcement made by Nokia earlier, which disclosed a plan to replace 46 million Matsushita-made batteries used in Nokia handsets free of charge because of the risk of overheating.

òSanyo Electric Co. is considering selling its mobile phone business in order to focus on profitable operations. SanyoÆs move is seen by industry observers as its way of hastening the companyÆs restructuring. The mobile phone business is suffering declining sales and an operating loss amid intensifying competition in Japan. Sanyo recently revised down its fiscal 2007 mobile phone sales forecast to 11 million units from 12.5 million to 12.6 million units. Sanyo is also in talks to sell its semiconductor business. Media sources said an agreement is yet to be reached as the parties have differing views about the price.

Software
òRed Bend Software Japan KK, the market leader in Mobile Software Management and Firmware-Over-the-Air (FOTA) update solutions for mobile phones and wireless modules, announced that its vCurrent Mobile FOTA software has been adopted by Toshiba Corp. for use in the WX320T handset for Japanese operator Willcom. With this deal, Toshiba becomes the fourth Japanese handset manufacturer to adopt vCurrent Mobile. Red Bend Software helps mobile phone manufacturers and network operators to accelerate the adoption of new services and features, respond rapidly to customer needs and reduce support costs through mobile software management solutions. LG Electronics, Motorola, NEC, Sharp, Sony Ericsson and other large handset manufacturers use Red BendÆs FOTA mobile client software to quickly and reliably deliver compact firmware updates to more than 150 million mobile phones in the hands of consumers. Red Bend Software is a privately held, venture capital-financed company with offices in China, Israel, Japan, Korea, the UK and the US

òJamcracker, the on-demand services delivery company, and kitASP, the leading application deployment company in Japan, have entered into a strategic partnership to provide communication service providers, Internet service providers and IT service providers in Japan with an on-demand catalogue of packaged and custom application services for businesses and consumers. Under the agreement, the companies are offering over 100 application services from the Jamcracker Services Delivery Network (JSDN) catalogue and kitASP applications tailored for the Japanese market. Jamcracker is a privately held company with headquarters in California and offices in Bangalore, India. KitASP investors include Mitsubishi Electric Corporation and NTT Data Corporation.

òNTT-IT of Japan, a subsidiary of NTT, the world's largest telecommunications company and VRMeetings have entered into an alliance to introduce MeetingPlaza, a unified collaborative" web-conferencing solution to the US market. MeetingPlaza, which has a significant market share in Japan, transfers VOIP audio/visual web conferencing from equipment and software products to the PC, and integrates special collaborative tools for simultaneous use. MeetingPlaza is a "full duplex" (audio and video), web hosted solution that provides synchronous (real time) multi-party communications to up to 32 simultaneous participants (2,000 participants for large conferences). Founded in 2002, VRMeetings is a minority-owned company and partner of NTT-IT and the exclusive global marketer of MeetingPlaza.

Hardware
òSony Corp.'s US electronics unit has decided to launch a $100 million marketing program to create interest in its big-screen televisions and related products. The advertising campaign will cover print, Internet and television commercials and carries the slogan: "High Definition. It's in our DNA." A company official said the company targets "double-digit growth" in revenue from Sony's high-definition products through the holiday season. The the capmpaign will cover products ranging from digital cameras and Blu-ray DVDs to PCs and LCD TVs.

òSony Style (Japan) Inc., a Sony subsidiary, said it has teamed up with popular jewelry and accessory brand Abiste Corp. to create limited editions of the Walkman E010 series. The Walkmans, which come in pink, violet, black, blue or gold, have removable caps adorned with Swarovski glass crystals. Customers have to wait two months for delivery of the special edition handmade products, which will be addressing the female market for portable music players. Prices are set at Ñ15,800 (US$138) for a 1-gigabyte model, Ñ18,800 (US$165) for a 2Gb model and Ñ24,800 (US$217) for a 4Gb model, including tax but excluding shipping fees.

Information Technology
òFujitsu Ltd. has agreed to supply information and technology infrastructure to Reuters, a British media and information service company. Under the 10-year agreement, Fujitsu will provide IT services to 17,500 Reuters employees in more than 100 countries to help them gain secure and smooth access to the company's internal systems. The agreement will also see some of Reuters' IT staff transferring to Fujitsu.
Korea

Internet
òDedicated user-created content (UCC) sites such as PandoraTV and Mgoon are attracting more visitors, according to domestic Internet consultancy Rankey.com. PandoraTV, touted as the countryÆs equivalent to YouTube, recorded more than 14 million page-views in the final week of July for the top spot. Weekly page-views for TVPot, a UCC site run by the country's number two Internet portal Daum Communications, registered some 4.9 million visitors. Mgoon came in at number three with 3.4 million page-views over the same period. PandoraTV also stood out in the number of weekly visitors with 1 million, followed by TVPot with 660,000 and Mgoon with 432,000.

òYahoo and Naver will both launch upgraded mobile phone services that offer more personalised and easy-to-use search functions, according to separate announcements. Yahoo Korea provides its Yahoo OneSearch service for LG Telecom users, while Naver, the countryÆs leading Internet firm, has its improved Phone Naver Service, which enables users to customise their homepages. The introduction of user-friendly mobile portal services is seen as an indicator that the competition will be heavy and include big Internet firms even as the growth of this industry is projected to be slow. Analysts expect other Internet powerhouses such as Daum, Cyworld and Google to be part of the mobile Internet business.

òNHN Corp., South Korea's number one Internet company, has uncovered fake IDs in some 90,000 users of its portal site Naver. These clients were using fake identities based on stolen private information. According to the countryÆs Ministry of Information and Communication, NHN conducted its own investigation into identity theft cases after deploying a strengthened identity-verification system.

Mobile/Wireless
òHewlett-Packard, one of the world's leading computer and printer producers, has announced plans to market its personal digital assistant (PDA) phones in South Korea later this year. The company will launch a 3G PDA phone, dubbed the iPAQ 600, through domestic wireless operators such as SK Telecom and KTF. The smart phone is based on high-speed data packet downlink access (HSDPA) technologies that enable various next-generation services. HP Korea introduced a one-off PDA phone in 2004 under a business alliance with KT, the country's largest telecom company, and its mobile subsidiary KTF, but the iPAQ 600 will mark HP's first genuine attempt to tap into the domestic cellular phone market.

òATX Group, the world's largest independent telematics provider to the automotive industry, and SK Telecom, one of the leading and most innovative wireless carriers in Asia, has entered into a strategic, cooperative agreement to deliver telematics services to the Chinese market. The alliance is seen as fusing SK's experience in developing innovative 3G wireless applications in China with ATX's experience in customising data and voice services for different types of in-vehicle and off-board devices, automobile brands and vehicle owners. Based in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area and Dusseldorf, Germany, ATX Group serves both North America and Europe. ATX telematics services are designed to provide enhanced safety, security and driving convenience to vehicle owners. SK Telecom has over 20 million subscribers, accounting for more than 50% of the total market.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming
òLizard Interactive Co. will launch global commercial services of its massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) Cronous in August, according to the company's CEO. Cronous will still be available online under the Free to Play mode but will also include an Item Shop where users can buy premium items. The company said the introduction of its commercial service will not affect the overall balance of the game, but will add more fun for the players. Lizard Interactive developers say Cronous, which has the same fast speed as Diablo, has the potential to be the best MMORPG in the future.

Hardware
òLG-Philips, the world's second largest liquid crystal display (LCD) panel manufacturer, will transfer part of its LCD monitor facilities from South Korea to Guangzhou. The Guangzhou plant will be the company's third factory outside South Korea, with the two other plants located in Nanjing and Poland.
LG-Philips also has one LCD panel and module component production line in South Korea. The investment cost wasn't revealed.

Semiconductors
òHynix Semiconductor Inc. has announced a plan to develop a new computer memory chip in cooperation with a Swiss memory developer. The aim of the alliance is to provide a slimmer and cheaper alternative to existing D-RAMs. Hynix said it has signed a license deal with Innovative Silicon ISI S.A. on the use of its related patented technologies to develop the so-called Z-RAMs.

òSamsung Group's strategic planning office has launched an in-depth inspection with the aim of restructuring the semiconductor business of Samsung Electronics. Samsung Electronics said the inspection will start this week and will last for about six weeks. Samsung remains the world's largest memory chipmaker with about 30% of the computer memory chip (DRAM) market and 40% of the NAND flash chip market. Samsung posted a 41% profit decline in the second quarter from a year earlier due to falling memory chip prices. In a related development, Samsung said it has completed a two-month inspection of its telecommunications business, and media sources say the company has ordered the telecom division to remove or merge its product planning and marketing teams which are spread all over the organisation.
China

Internet
òAlibaba announced that it has initiated a beta test on its new online advertising distribution web site Alimama, which is scheduled to be formally launched in the second half of this year. Under the new offering, Alimama is expected to share resources with Alibaba's other services, including business-to-business areas Taobao.com, Alipay and Alisoftware. To satisfy the requirements for a B2B business listing in Hong Kong, Alibaba has transformed each of the above service departments into subsidiaries and created an independent board of directors for each of them.

òNetease.com reported total revenues for the second quarter of 2007 of Rmb558 million ($73.4 million), compared to the Rmb554.6 million and Rmb575.3 million it posted for the preceding quarter and the second quarter of 2006, respectively. Netease said revenues from online games were Rmb475.1 million for the second quarter of 2007, compared to Rmb481.9 million for the preceding quarter. Total operating expenses for the second quarter of 2007 amounted to Rmb142.8 million, compared to Rmb117.7 million in the preceding quarter. Netease said its net profit rose to Rmb312.6 million in the second quarter of 2007 from Rmb301.5 million in the first quarter. As of June 30, 2007, the company's total cash and time deposit balance was Rmb3 billion, compared to Rmb3.9 billion as of December 31, 2006.

òOnline travel company eLong.com posted an operating loss of Rmb2.2 million ($289,664) in the second quarter 2007, up from a loss of Rmb1.2 million in the year earlier period, according to an unaudited financial report, but remains confident that it can improve on its performance. The company said its travel revenues grew 16% to Rmb75.4 million in the second quarter from a year earlier, while the hotel commission revenue rose 12% due to higher room volumes. The air ticketing commission revenue grew by 44%, which the company ascribed primarily to a 41% increase in air segments to Rmb347,000, as well as a modest 2% increase in the commission per air ticket to Rmb40. The company recorded a net loss of Rmb1.8 million for the second quarter, compared with a net income of Rmb10.2 million for the second quarter of 2006. As of June 30, 2007, eLong had cash and cash equivalents of Rmb1.1 billion, a decline of 2% since the end 2006. The company projects total revenues in the third quarter to range from Rmb79 million to Rmb87 million, which would translate into a 6%-17% increase from the third quarter of 2006.

òMedia sources indicate that China Yahoo is gearing up to resume its 3721 network real name service. The new service will be called Chinese Online 2007, but will feature the same functions as 3721 and allow users to access the Chinese address search function after installing a plug-in.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming
òCDC Games, a subsidiary of CDC Corporation, has decided to invest in Xiakexing Network Technologies Company (XNet), a China-based developer of online games. The investment into XNet will be done through multiple tranches, with the valuation of each tranche based on the achievement of certain milestones. Under the agreement, CDC Games will have exclusive global distribution rights for all games developed by XNet and CDC Games' CEO Peter Yip will serve on Xnet's board of directors. The investment is subject to the successful completion of customary due diligence and final documentation. The deal will let XNet develop and publish new games in partnership with CDC Games. XNet marks the fourth investment by CDC Games following Gorilla Banana, Mgame and Auran. The value of the investment was not disclosed.

Mobile/Wireless
òQiao Xing Mobile's subsidiary CEC Telecom (CECT) has entered into an agreement with Bei Dou Communication & Equipment Company, one of the largest mobile handset Internet sales platforms in China, to establish a new e-commerce and promotional outlet for the sale of the company's handsets. The agreement is valued at Rmb1 billion ($131.6 million). The two companies have agreed to strengthen their ties related to Internet sales, retail channel development and other value-added services. The partnership will also enable CECT to deal with retail outlets and customers directly via Bei Dou's handset e-commerce platform.

òMotorola has secured contracts valued at $394 million with China Mobile for GSM network expansion. About 60% of the revenue from the agreements was booked in the first half of 2007. Motorola and China Mobile have been working together for some 20 years. As of April 2007, China Mobile had more than 330 million wireless subscribers on its nationwide network.

òChina Mobile Ltd., the world's largest wireless operator, posted a net profit of Rmb20.3 billion ($2.6 billion) in April-June, up from Rmb15.8 billion a year earlier. The results exceeded the average forecast of Rmb19.1 billion by seven analysts polled by Reuters. The operator's full-year net profit is expected to climb 18% to Rmb77.9 billion, according to the average forecasts from 24 analysts in a separate Reuters poll.

Software
òKingdee has revealed plans to join China's e-commerce market after IBM's infusion of funds into the company. The company said its strategy will be to offer an e-commerce platform that provides one-stop services. According to the manager of IBM Greater China Region Service Flow Subcontract Department, IBM hopes its assitance will make Kingdee a key supplier of software-as-a-service (SaaS) in China.

òMicrologo Coding Limited has signed a global strategic partnership memorandum of understanding with Microsoft. Under the agreement, the two parties will work on a series of projects aimed at the ôinformationisationö of traditional industries in China. Media sources indicate that Micrologo is the eighth Chinese firm to sign this type of partnership agreement with Microsoft.

Hardware
òNanjing Panda Electronics Co. reported a 47% climb in its first-half profit to Rmb53.1 million ($7 million) from Rmb36.3 million a year earlier. The company attributed the surge to added income from ventures with Ericsson AB and Sony-Ericsson Mobile Communications Ltd in China. The profit was also boosted by a deferred income tax credit valued at Rmb14.1 million. Nanjing Panda owns 27% of a network equipment company with Ericsson and a fifth of a handset joint venture with Sony Ericsson.

Semiconductors
òNEC plans to widen its sales network in China in the coming three years, a move that is seen as a response to the surge in ChinaÆs semiconductor market. The Japanese firm said it aims to boost sales in China from Ñ50 billion ($437.7 million) in 2006 to Ñ100 billion in 2010. Currently, NEC maintains four business sites in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Media sources say NEC anticipates that China's electronics market will post an annual growth of 10% and aims to add about 100 new sales and marketing staff in the country in each of the coming three years.

Ventures/Investments
òChinese digital audio manufacturer 3NOD Digital Group has debuted on the KOSDAQ, making it the first foreign company to list on the junior bourse. 3NOD, which has sought to go public on the South Korean stock market since last year, went through an initial public offering (IPO) this month after submitting a listing application to the Korea Exchange (KRX) in July. Shinyoung Securities was the underwriter. The company secured more than W1.2 trillion ($1.2 billion) worth of subscriptions for 12 million shares from investors and set its IPO price at W2,500 won (US$2.60) per share. 3NOD is based in Shenzhen in the southern Guangdong Province and maintains some 600 branches throughout China. Its sales network spans about 30 countries, including the US and Japan.
Taiwan

Mobile/Wireless
òFar EasTone Telecommunications Co, TaiwanÆs No. 3 mobile phone operator, has disclosed plans to acquire a major stake in fixed-line service operator New Century Infocomm Tech Co (NCIC) from Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) via a share swap. Under the deal, Far EasTone will issue 160.3 million new shares in exchange for SingTel's 24.5% holding of NCIC. The exchange is expected to give SingTel a 3.9% stake in Far EasTone and access to Taiwan's mobile-phone industry. It will also make SingTel Far EasTone's second-largest foreign institutional shareholder after NTT DoCoMo, which holds 4.7%.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Wayi International Digital Entertainment, a developer/operator of online games in Taiwan, announced it will launch Granado Espada (GE) Online, a MMORPG introduced from South Korea, in the Taiwan market at the end of the month. The company said the closed beta test of GE Online was limited to 50,000 registered players and was initiated this month and has reached a concurrence level of 17,000 simultaneous players. Wayi said it plans to operate GE Online by charging a monthly fee, which includes a free combination of virtual items for the game. In addition to the free items, users can purchase additional items at a designated online item mall. GE Online, which is expected to eventually reach 80,000 simultaneous players, has already been launched in South Korea, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and the U.S.

Telecommunications
ò WiMAX Telecom and Vastar Cable TV System announced entering a strategic alliance that they will use to provide Taiwan-wide WiMAX services beginning the first half of 2008. The two companies were the two out of the six WiMAX licensees awarded by Taiwan's National Communications Commission (NCC). WiMAX Telecom, a joint venture between 3G services provider Vibo Telecom and telecom equipment maker Tecom, was awarded a license to offer WiMAX services in the northern part of Taiwan; VasterÆs license was for similar services in the southern Taiwan region. In another development, WiMAX Telecom disclosed that it will be able to up its paid-in capital to NT$1 billion (US$30.3 million) by the end of this year, with Vibo Telecom as well as subsidiaries of the two companies contributing the needed capital. Vaster also disclosed plans to increase its capital to NT$1.8 billion (US$54.4 million) in 2007.

Hardware
ò Opto Tech announced plans to build an LED plant in Ningbo, China. Media sources said the plant is expected to add some 3 billion units to the companyÆs current monthly capacity of 3.1 billion units in the first quarter of 2008.


Hong Kong

Telecommunications
ò ATSI Communications Inc. announced that it has secured a new contract with Hong Kong's leading telecommunications operator to provide international Voice over Internet Protocol transport services. Under the deal, the U.S.-based firm will provide services to PCCW Global through its wholly owned subsidiary Digerati Networks Inc. PCCW Global is a worldwide business unit of PCCW Ltd. The company provides data and voice services in more than 70 countries, including the U.S. ATSI also operates Telefamilia Communications Inc., a retail communications provider serving the Hispanic market. The financial details of the contract were not disclosed.

Software
ò INTAC International, Inc. (INTAC), an emerging provider of educational and career development services and software for educational institutions and a distributor of wireless handset products in China, announced that it has received approval from its shareholders on the announced merger with HSW Merger Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of HSW International, Inc. The companyÆs shareholders have also approved the share purchase agreement among INTAC, INTAC International Holdings Limited, INTAC (Tianjin) International Trading Company, Wei Zhou, and Cyber Proof Investments Ltd. for the sale of the wireless handset distribution business. INTAC International is a Nevada corporation with headquarters in Hong Kong.

Mobile/Wireless
ò According to the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) mobile coverage in Hong Kong's country parks has received a boost with the launch of a new base station at Long Ke, bringing the total number of base stations in country parks to 13. The report said three more mobile base stations are under construction and scheduled to be completed later this year, a development that promises to improve mobile coverage in certain areas.

Ventures/Investments
ò The Global Emerging Markets Group (GEM) through its GEM Global Yield Fund reported that it has invested US$28 million into Ansen Investment Holdings Limited (AIHL), which is headquartered in Hong Kong. Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited acted as financial advisor and acquisition finance provider in this transaction. AnsenÆs product base is composed of home-use security modules and consumer electronic devices that employ radio frequency wireless communications, LED lighting and digital processing technologies as key components. The company has a manufacturing and assembly operations in Dongguan, in the Chinese province of Guangdong. Industry observers note that the deal marks GEM's first direct investment in China. Founded in 1991, GEM is a US$2.7 billion alternative investment group that manages a diverse set of investment vehicles focused on emerging markets across the world.

Information Technology
ò IBS Software Services, a leading global provider of new-generation IT solutions to the Travel, Transportation and Logistics (TTL) industry announced setting up of a new office in Hong Kong. The office is aimed at providing a business focus and support to the region covering the PRC, Taiwan and the ASEAN countries. The Hong Kong office is the fourth IBS center in Asia, with the other three offices located Tokyo as well as in Trivandrum and Cochin in India.
Singapore/Malaysia/Philippines/Indonesia

Internet
ò Sabiclub Corp., a South Korean-owned technology company, announced its partnership with listed technology company IPVG to launch cyber cafT across the Philippines. According to SabiclubÆs founder and president, the company is looking at establishing 100 Internet cafTs in the Philippines to cater to local and foreign customers. Sabiclub will use i-Hooked and Station 168 to serve students and foreign clients. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

ò Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) revealed that it is developing a new online search engine described as created to be the first port of call for people anywhere in the world who want content about Singapore. SPH will launch the service next year, with the company indicating that it will take the place of giants like Google and Yahoo as the prime tool to source local information. SPH Search's other businesses, which include directory services that provide a "comprehensive database" of local information, with the company initiating a nationwide data collection last month. Information is being compiled from newspapers and magazines, people who have taken part in SPH contests, as well as firms that have provided data and website subscribers. SPH Search is a joint venture between SPH and Norwegian media group Schibstead.

ò An e-commerce or business-to-business portal called iNegosyo.com was launched in the Philippines to provide small- and medium-sized enterprise Internet access. The offering is a project of SYOBnow e-commerce Co. of Hong Kong and iNegosyo e-commerce Inc., Philippines. With the service, sellers and exporters can place their products and services in the iNegosyo.com online business database at no cost at all.

Telecommunications
ò A SingTel executive credits the companyÆs mio TV service for helping SingTel retain its existing customers at the same time attracting new ones. SingTel reported that its mio TV bundle, which incorporates a mobile line, a fixed line and broadband Internet service, registered 30,000 subscribers in the first quarter, which stands for an additional 14,000 the previous quarter. The company said it is now planning to concentrate on a "door to door" campaign to get people to sign up for the pay-TV service, which offers 33 channels including Hollywood blockbusters, BBC infotainment shows and Cantonese drama series. The SingTel official also said that mio TV subscribers can look to additional content via the service by the end of the year. SingTel revealed that it has set aside US$30 million to fund the pay-TV service, including content acquisition.

Ventures/Investments
ò Sony Corporation announced its plans to establish a lithium ion polymer battery plant in Singapore, a move that will create Sony's first such plant in the South East Asia region. As an expansion of Sony's lithium ion battery manufacturing capabilities, the company will establish Singapore's first and only lithium ion polymer manufacturing plant, marking a major milestone for the local electronics industry. The plant is scheduled to start operations in August 2008. Sony said the lithium ion polymer battery plant in Singapore will be highly automated, utilizing cutting-edge equipment and technologies such as the latest Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) applications. Local engineers will be sent to Japan for training to gain the technological knowledge and skills needed to run this highly advanced operation. Sony said it will be investing some S$150 million (US$98.1 million) in the construction of its lithium ion polymer battery operations in Singapore.
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