Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Japanese game company Sega has announced a project to help build a massive game arcade in Dubai. The arcade is expected to be the largest in the world and is currently under construction. Sega, a unit of the Sega Sammy group, has signed an agreement with Emaar Malls Group of the United Arab Emirates to build the two-floor arcade inside the Dubai Mall later this year. Under the license agreement, Sega will offer development and management know-how to Emaar Malls Group, which will build and operate the facility. Sega said the arcade is designed to occupy some 7,000sqm.
Gonzo Rosso, an online game operator in the GDH media group has launched its RAN Online game in Vietnam. Beta service started in mid-January, with the full commercial launch scheduled for the end of the month. The company will offer RAN Online via its Kuala Lumpur-based subsidiary GoldSky Access, which also operates the game in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia.
RAN Online is a massively-multiplayer online roll-playing game (MMORPG) licensed to GoldSky for operation in Southeast Asia by Korean game developer Min Communications. GoldSky specialises in the online game licensing business including localisation/culturalisation of in-game events and billing processes. Gonzo Rosso's other areas of business include development/operation of online merchandise store. GDH. is a globally-focused Japanese media company, which produces entertainment for teenagers and young adults through its Gonzo animation brand.
eAccess is reportedly using its newly acquired stake in rival ACCA Networks to demand that Acca replace its top managers with officials from eAccess. eAccess beat NTTC to become the top shareholder with 13.1% in ACCA. The proposal specifies that a replacement be sought for ACCA President Masaharu Kimura and two other officials. The company said wants a new management that is more open to working with eAccess within ADSL broadband internet access and wireless services.
KDDI's mobile WiMax joint venture, Wireless Broadband Planning K.K., is near closing on its vendor choices for a $1.3 billion mobile WiMax network in Japan. The leading candidates are Fujitsu and Samsung and the final decision is expected to be out by March. The investors in Wireless Broadband Planning are KDDI, Intel Capital, East Japan Railway Company, Kyocera Corporation, Daiwa Securities Group and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. The joint venture was awarded a national WiMax license at 2.5 GHz at the end of last year, with the venture committing to invest Ñ145 billion ($1.3 billion) through March 2014. The other license winner was personal handyphone system (PHS) operator Willcom, which plans to invest $1.7 billion over six years on a next-generation PHS network at 2.5 GHz.
Openwave Systems has announced a joint collaboration with Japanese internet start-up, Zero Start Communications, to launch a new mobile Mini-Blog service. The service is dubbed "chopi" in Japan. Under the agreement, Openwave's carrier-grade, standards-based converged communications platform will serve as the messaging engine powering the chopi service. The Mini-Blog service enables users to join communities, view other user's comments and communicate with friends, family members and others via their mobile device. It also offers consumers closed community portal pages along with search engine and private messaging. Headquartered in Tokyo, Zero Start provides software products and software engineering for the internet media industry as well as web services in Japan.
NEC Corporation, Japan's largest personal-computer maker, has together with Sumitomo Corporation won a contract to supply wireless communications systems to Wind Telecomunicazioni, Italy's third-largest mobile-phone operator. Based in Rome, the operator has an 18% share of Italy's 80.3 million-subscriber mobile market.
According to media sources, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp will be required to open its fiber optic communications network to competitors. The countryÆs Ministry of Communications is expected to announce the new guidelines requiring the open network soon. NTT, which plans to formally launch the next-generation network in March, controils about 70% of Japan's telecommunications market. Earlier, the ministry was asked by KDDI and Softbank to open the network for wider use.
Motorola has bought a 78% stake in Vertex Standard, a Japanese two-way radio maker. Under the tender offer, Motorola will pay an estimated Ñ12 billion ($112 million) in cash for 5.4 million shares.
The South Korean government plans to ban local internet portals from editing headlines of news stories supplied by news organisations without permission, media sources say. Local online portals such as Naver and Daum have been dominating the home market with advanced search engines and localised services. Observers note that the plan comes amid increasing worries over the misuse of online power to retain leadership in the industry. In South Korea, where 33 million out of the total population of 48 million have access to high-speed broadband internet, many issues arise out of problematic postings, especially related to rights infringements on the web.
South Korea's top mobile service operator SK Telecom will invest W655 billion ($700.7 million) to upgrade and expand its networks. In a filing with the Korea Exchange, SK Telecom said the spending will be made during the first half of 2008.
NEO Mtel has exceeded $10 billion in cumulative royalty revenue from Qualcomm since its first supply of embedded graphic software to the CDMA chipset provider. NEO MTEL implemented its embedded software in a mobile phone with various graphic effects for the first time in 1999. Through the 2001 contract with NEO MTEL, Qualcomm obtained a license of NEOÆs patent and software for its core technology of the CDMA chip to provide projects to CDMA markets around the world. Neo MTel is a South Korea-based technological venture firm that developed the source technology for the worldÆs first video images for wireless devices.
TmaxSoft disclosed that it has set a sales target of W160 billion ($169.7 million) this year. The company plans to lay a foundation for new growth engines such as database, industry specific solutions and SaaS to achieve the sales target. The company said it also plans to strengthen the competitiveness of solution business through stronger consulting services, more systematic project implementation and better professional training.
Samsung Electronics has announced record revenues of W17.4 trillion ($18.4 billion) for the fourth quarter ending December 31, 2007. Samsung posted an operating profit of W2.5 trillion ($2.6 billion) on a consolidated basis, with the company ascribing the strong performance partly to its liquid crystal display (LCD) and digital media business, which generated annual operating profits of W2.1 trillion and W1 trillion, respectively, on a consolidated basis. All of the companyÆs business units were solidly in the black due to improved performance by the Digital Appliance Business and better than expected results from the semiconductor business.
MongoliaÆs State Property Committee has released a list of state-owned businesses that it will seek to privatise in 2008. The most important of these appears to be Mongolia Telecom (MT). The Mongolian state currently owns 54% of Mongolia Telecom, while Korea Telecom holds 40% for which it paid $4.5 million in 1995. Prior to the privatisation, the government is seeking to buy back the Korea Telecom-owned shares. However, disagreement over the value of the shares could delay the sale. In August 2006 the government approved a restructuring of MT into two autonomous units called NetCo and ServCo, which are involved with the infrastructure and services operations respectively.
PacificNet, a provider of gaming technology, e-commerce, and customer relationship management (CRM) in China, has announced that its subsidiary PacificNet iMobile has been selected by Motorola China to design and operate Phase III of the MOTO Store portal. MOTO Store is the official designated e-commerce portal for MotorolaÆs mobile products in China. Under the agreement, PacificNet iMobile will be responsible for the overall development, design, deployment, testing and launch of the MOTO Store, as well as internet payment processing, CRM and call center customer support services. The deal also includes a two-year maintenance contract. In a separate development, PacificNet announced that it has completed the 100% acquisition of Octavian International, a worldwide supplier of gaming technology, solutions and systems.
According to China Internet Network Information Center, ChinaÆs internet population has surged 53% to 210 million people from 137 million last year. At the new level China is only about 5 million users behind the US, media sources say. The reports noted, however, that in many aspects China still lags behind the US with an online penetration rate of only 16%, a level which the US reached in the mid-1990s. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 75% of American adults are now online and the penetration rate would be even higher if teenagers were included.
Coordinate Technologies has finalised a bilateral roaming agreement with Swisscom that will give Swisscom customers access to over 2,200 WiFi hotspots managed by China Netcom and China Mobile, according to media sources. The connections cover 43 airports, 1,300 hotels and all Starbucks locations. Under the agreement, Chinese customers will also be able to access 1,000 top-tier hotspots managed by Swisscom. China Netcom operates 400 hotspots, primarily in northern China, and is expected to add an additional 1,000 before the 2008 Olympics. China Mobile operates 1,836 hotspots. Both operators are planning significant capital investments in their WLAN coverage.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
The National Basketball Association has announced the formation of NBA China with the Li Ka-shing Foundation, ESPN and three Chinese companies - Bank of China Group Investment; Legend Holdings, the holding company for PC maker Lenovo; and China Merchants Investments, an affiliate of China Merchants Bank. Under the agreement, the five strategic partners will collectively invest $253 million to acquire 11% of the preference shares in NBA China. The new company will be responsible for all of the league's businesses in greater China, such as merchandising and marketing of television and other media.
VODone Limited, a leading tele-media service provider in China, has announced that its subsidiary, TMD2 has entered into an agreement with DoubleClick Techsolutions (Beijing), which specialises in digital marketing for internet media and advertisers. Under the agreement, DoubleClick will provide expertise service to target and measure the exposure and hit rates of advertisers on VODone websites and VODone BUS, the Broadcasting Union System for online video advertising.
Shanda will spend some Rmb8 million ($1.1 million) to encourage its employees to think of innovative undertakings. Media sources said the first round of investment would be made available between June and September 2008.
Netease will launch a free online game for the first time in 2008, according to its CEO. The game is Tian Xia Er, which so far hasnÆt had much success. The CEO said the game had not been successful mainly because the company had ignored differences among China's 40 million game players and put too much emphasis on time-based charging. The company also disclosed that it has no plans to focus on developing games of its own this year. However, Netease is aiming to co-develop some games with its partners.
Vtion Wireless Technology has relaunched its initial public offering in Frankfurt, which aims to raise up to Ç5.2 million ($80.6 million). China-based Vtion had initially planned to go public in November last year. The company provides wireless data card solutions for mobile computing. It is offering 4.6 million shares, with a price range of Ç8 to Ç12 per share. BOC International, CLSA and Sal Oppenheim are joint bookrunners.
Haier Mobile and NXP Semiconductors will form a strategic collaboration that will see Haier adopting NXP's solutions for its EDGE mobile phones. NXP was founded by Philips. Industry observers see the strategic collaboration between the mobile terminal manufacturer and the upstream chip supplier as consolidating the technological and market advantages from both companies. It is also expected to boost the widespread deployment of EDGE technology in the domestic Chinese market and give Haier's mobile users faster and more convenient mobile data services, including streaming media, high-speed networking and richer mobile entertainment experiences such as video and gaming.
Colin Sung has resigned as chief financial officer of Linktone, effective January 31, 2008. However, he is expected to remain with the Chinese wireless value-added services company in a consulting capacity for a transition period in order to assist with the planned strategic investment by PT Media Nusantara Citra in Indonesia. Foo Him Tiem, LinktoneÆs deputy CFO, has been appointed acting CFO. Linktone posted a net loss of $2.7 million in the third quarter of 2007.
The Symbio Group, which provides outsource software development, testing, globalisation and support services out of China, has entered into agreements with China's Hangzhou Municipal Government to set up a new software park in Hangzhou. Scheduled to open in spring of 2008, the Symbio East Software Park will be the first outsourcing centre in Hangzhou. The company said the Symbio software park will house software teams responsible for business process outsourcing, financial services software development, and research and development. Symbio also has software development facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Taipei.
The China Development Bank and IDB Group (Tel-Aviv, Israel) have invested $50 million in the Infinity I-China Fund. The I-China Fund is set to be managed by Infinity-CSVC Partners, a general partner with a joint management team from Infinity and Suzhou Ventures Group. The Infinity I-China Fund invests in late-stage Israeli technology companies and Chinese businesses that license Israeli technologies to develop and market them in China. This is Infinity's second fund operating under its China-Israel investment cooperation model, which has been developed together with Suzhou Ventures Group.
Hasee Computer Company has confirmed plans to list in Shenzhen by the end of 2008. Observers say Hasee has been preparing for the IPO since the second half of last year. The company chose to list in Shenzhen partly because Hasee is based here. Hasee had previously announced plans to list in Hong Kong, but observers believe pressure from the local government has made it change its mind. Founded in 1995, Hasee designs, develops, manufactures, markets and sells computer systems and services that can be customised to fit individual requirements. At present, the company employs more than 3,000 people in China and has sales offices and service centres in 40 cities across the country to serve its clients.
First International Telecom (Fitel), a WiMAX licensee for the northern region of Taiwan, will buy 88 WiMAX base stations from Motorola for the establishment of its WiMAX infrastructure. According to media sources, the deal is estimated to be worth NT$220 million ($6.8 million) or NT$2.5 million ($77,368) per base station. Fitel plans to purchase an additional 200 WiMAX base stations in March-April 2008 and increase the number of its WiMAX base stations to 500 before the end of this year. The company is set to launch its WiMAX services covering the northern part of Taiwan in the first quarter of 2009, during which it is also expected to purchase another 500 WiMAX base stations.
New Century InfoComm Tech (Sparq), an operator of fixed-line telecommunication services in Taiwan, will invest NT$6 billion ($185 million) to set up its next-generation network infrastructure in 2008-2010. The company has been investing in a fibre-optic network since its foundation, spending NT$1 billion to NT$1.1 billion ($31 million-$34 million) each year, which corresponds to about 15% of its revenues. According to its president, Sparq plans to integrate its operating resources and business operations with those of Far EasTone Telecommunications, one of the top three mobile telecom carriers in Taiwan and a major shareholder of Sparq, to offer value-added services aimed at various market segments.
Notebook maker Inventec has entered the mini notebook market with the help of its acquired Japanese brand, KJS. The move by the Taiwan-based firm comes as a mini notebook trend is spreading in the market. KJS is a Japanese brand vendor that mainly focuses on mini notebook products, while Inventec is its main original equipment manufacturer. With the mini notebooks enjoying a strong performance in both Japan and Korea, Inventec has begun to push the brand into other countries, including Taiwan. The company noted increasing notebook orders from Fujitsu-Siemens and Acer in 2008.
HannStar Display has entered into an agreement with Sharp, which will allow both parties to use each other's patents for TFT-LCD TVs and other related applications. In a filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, HannStar said the agreement is retroactive to January 1, 2007, and will be valid until December 31, 2011. No financial details were disclosed.
The board of directors of WT Microelectronics (WT) has approved a plan to acquire part of Solomon Technology's Integrated Circuit (IC) distribution business. Under the deal, WT is expected to see additional sales of more than NT$8.2 billion ($254 million) in 2008. The acquisition is set to be completed by April 10, 2008. The first part of the deal will set aside a cash amount of no more than NT$420 million ($13 million) to acquire some of Solomon's IC distribution businesses, which represents four major vendors - Freescale Semiconductor, Systech, STMicroelectronics and On Semiconductor. In the second part of the deal, WT, through its Hong Kong-based affiliate Promising International, will acquire a complete stake in Solomon's Hong Kong-based affiliate Solomon (Cayman) International for no more than HK$210 million ($26.9 million). Solomon has a 70% stake in this Hong Kong affiliate. Major vendors represented by Solomon (Cayman) International include Agere Systems (merged by LSI Logic last April), Freescale, Maxim Integrated Products, On Semiconductor, Renesas Technology, Topply and STMicroelectronics.
Hutchison Telecommunications International Limited (HTIL) announced that it is to recognise a non-cash impairment charge of HK$3.8 million ($494 million) in its 2007 audited consolidated financial statements in connection with the groupÆs investments in its mobile telecommunications business in Thailand. The company said there will be a resulting deferred tax credit of HK$421 million (US$54 million) arising from this charge. HTIL markets mobile telecom services of CAT Telecom Public Company Limited in 25 provinces covering Bangkok and the surrounding provinces and leases the CDMA network used for that service to CAT. The company began operations in 2003 providing high-speed multimedia wireless services and had a customer base of 884,000 as of 30 September 2007. Following the impairment charge, HTIL is expected to report a loss from continuing operations in its 2007 audited consolidated financial statements compared to a profit of HK$341 million (US$43.6 million) reported as of 30 June 2007. HTIL is expected to report an overall profit for the year 2007 taking into account the one-off gain on the disposal of interest recorded in its interim results for 2007.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Television router company NVISION has opened its new Asia Pacific headquarters in Hong Kong. The company said the opening is the outcome of NVISION's strong annual sales growth in the Asia Pacific markets and the rapidly growing demand by TV networks and local stations in this region for cost-effective, high-quality broadcast solutions that allow error-free, uninterrupted transmission of TV programming to consumers.
Dai Viet Securities Corporation (DVSC) and Capital Market Solutions (CMS) have signed a technology agreement under which CMS will provide securities solutions and IBM will provide IT infrastructure and project management services for DVSC. Capital Market Solutions (CMS) is a provider of software and services to the financial markets sector with offices in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and the UK.
m2m Corporation has issued an advise through its Hong Kong subsidiary, Starband Communications, regarding the formal settlement of its joint venture with Baipin Technology to increase sales and distribution of Internet-related services in China. The venture is a profit-sharing arrangement that will see Baipin receiving 10% of the net profits while Starband retains 90%. Under the deal, Starband has the option to acquire Baipin at a later date once predefined milestones have been achieved. Baipin is planning to launch internet-based services in February 2008 once completion of a Chinese e-commerce portal is done. m2m is a technology investment company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The company has active investments in Telecommunications and Broadband Telephony, Digital Video and Online Learning.
According to media sources, a Computer Recycling Programme (CRP) has been launched in Hong Kong. The project is jointly funded and organised by some 20 local and international computer equipment suppliers and has the support of Hong Kong's Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and several green groups and other relevant organisations. Computer equipment recovered by the CRP includes desktop and notebook computers, monitors, scanners and other accessories including hard disks, mouse units and USB external storage devices. CRPÆs target is to recover 50,000 items of computer equipment annually in the first two years of implementation. The group explained that a percentage of the better quality computers will be set aside for donation to the needy through a charitable organization, while the rest will be recycled.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Singapore-based technology incubator, A*Star (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), announced that it will give US$100,000 to the winner of a contest to build a rich-media search engine. The R&D firm said that it is launching a global competition to develop the search engine capable of identifying words within documents, audio and video files online, which have not been previously tagged within the files. A*Star said that it expects the technology to have a global impact given the spread of user-generated media on platforms, such as YouTube and Facebook. The company said the winner will be decided by an international advisory panel which includes professors from Singapore and U.S. colleges in Berkeley, Washington and Columbia.
ò Malaysian mobile communications provider, Maxis Communications Bhd announced the launching of a new service called Maxis Video Avatar, which allows subscribers to send a VideoSMS to friends and others. The Maxis Video Avatar service is based on a VideoSMS solution developed jointly by NMS Communications, a global telecommunications services provider and NGC Systems Sdn Bhd (NGC Systems), Malaysian mobile services provider. VideoSMS is a newly emerging application that is gaining momentum as subscribers around the world search for new ways to personalize their mobile communications. The Maxis Video Avatar service is supported by almost any mobile device.
ò Oceanlake Commerce Inc. announced that it has entered into a managed services agreement with Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc (DMPI). Under the terms of the agreement, Digitel Mobile Philippines will provide OceanLake MobileMail as a value-added service to its subscribers. Digitel Mobile Philippines is also known for its corporate brand Sun Cellular. OceanLake MobileMail is a real-time, push e-mail service that is seen as enabling Sun Cellular subscribers to send and receive e-mail with any Internet-enabled mobile phone at a fraction of the cost of other solutions in the market place. OceanLake's Asia Pacific headquarters are located in Singapore. Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc. (DMPI) is one of the Philippines' leading mobile telecommunications company known. A wholly owned subsidiary of Digital Telecommunications Philippines (DIGITEL), Sun Cellular is the pioneer of the intra-network unlimited wireless services in the country's mobile telecommunications industry.
ò Malaysia-based KZEN Solutions Bhd announced that it is expecting a 25 percent to 30 percent revenue contribution from its new human resource (HR) software solution KZEN HR One. The software solution has been developed in collaboration with SAP Malaysia Sdn Bhd, marking a first for both parties. The partnership is also expected to help KZEN Solutions in entering the small and medium enterprises (SME) market in Malaysia and the region. Leveraging on the SAP brand name, KZEN Solutions said it would market its HR solution in the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore by the third quarter of 2008. The company said it would also be outsourcing the implementation and after-sales service to SAP Malaysia as part of its strategy to save operational costs. An official of the company also said that it would be looking to the acquisition of smaller IT companies with innovative solutions to help diversify its solutions offerings. KZEN Solutions said it is targeting a 20 percent to 30 percent revenue growth for 2008. It posted a year-on-year decline of 11 percent in its revenue to 814,432 ringgit (US$249,000) for its third quarter ended Sept 31, 2007. The company ascribed the drop to lower software sales and longer time required for customized solutions.
ò Philippine-based IPVG announced its acquisition of U.S.-based security services provider Prolexic Technologies for US$10.5 million, a move that observers described as showing the firmÆs aggressive expansion plans. IPGV said it has initiated a stock purchase agreement with Prolexic stockholders to acquire 100 percent of the company's capital stock. IPVG described the acquisition of Prolexic, which specializes in managed security services as indicating the companyÆs growth in the key areas of IP domain. In a separate development, reports are indicating that IPVG Corp. (IPVG) has renewed its bid to take over contact center PeopleSupport Inc. In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, IPVG said that it had sent in a new proposal to acquire PeopleSupport at a purchase price of US$17 a share. Observers note that before the end of December 2007, IPVG made an offer to buy PeopleSupport at US$15 per share but was rejected.
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