Media, Entertainment and Gaming
NTT DoCoMo and Google has forged a partnership that is expected to create innovation in the mobile Internet area. According to an official in NTT DoCoMoÆs products and services division, the partnership aims to offer more ôgroundbreaking servicesö through the synergy between DoCoMo and Google and to work on the ômobilisation of the Internet.ö The two companies said the partnership includes enhancement of the search engine based on DoCoMo's "i-mode" Internet service, targeted advertising based on search targets, the development of an i-mode version of each Google application and service, the consideration of a mobile phone product incorporating the "Android" mobile software platform developed by Google, and the consideration of new mobile marketing services based on i-mode.
Nintendo has reported a 96.3% rise in net profits in the nine months to December to Ñ258.8 billion ($2.4 billion). The company said its operating profit climbed 135.1% to Ñ394 billion, while sales grew by 84.7% to Ñ1.3 trillion. In connection with the announcement, Nintendo raised its sales forecast for the full year to March to Ñ1.6 trillion, up from an earlier estimate of Ñ1.5 trillion, and its operating profit forecast to Ñ460 billion from Ñ420 billion. The company retained its net-profit forecast at Ñ275 billion, however, a decision which the firm attributed to the appreciation of the yen. During the nine months, the company said it sold 24.5 million of Nintendo DS.
Internet Initiative Japan has launched the IIJ Mobile, a mobile data communications service for corporate customers. The move is IIJ's first entry into the mobile communications market as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), providing comprehensive solutions for businesses employing mobile broadband. Under the offering, IIJ Mobile uses NTT DoCoMo's 3G FOMA network and data communications terminals to provide Internet access with high-speed mobile data communications up to 3.6 Mbps. IIJ plans to expand service offerings and functions, such as providing access to closed networks without going through the Internet, or providing mobile access as a part of the WAN using some of IIJ's existing services. This will enable IIJ to provide one-stop corporate network construction and operation that includes mobile data communications.
Sanyo Electric has reached a definitive agreement with Kyocera Corporation to transfer its mobile phone business to Kyocera. The mobile phone business refers to the entire CDMA handsets business (excluding Tottori Sanyo) as well as the PHS handsets, base station business and other operations related to the wireless communications business. Following the transfer, the current 2,000 employees in Sanyo's mobile phone business (excluding contract workers and temporary agency staff) will work for Kyocera. According to an announcement, Kyocera will continue to use the Sanyo brand for handsets both in Japan and overseas. It will also continue its own brand and its phone business will be developed using both the Kyocera and Sanyo brands. For the North American market, the current distribution channels will continue to be supported and utilizsd. And in addition to Kyocera Wireless Corp, the companyÆs current subsidiary in North America, a new company will be established.
The Walt Disney Company Japan plans to launch a mobile phone service called Disney Mobile in collaboration with SoftBank Mobile Corporation on March 1 this year. Under the offering, Disney will release dedicated handsets at the same time. In order to get access to this service, the user needs to sign a contract with Disney and use an e-mail address with the domain name "disney.ne.jp". Although the company will run the business as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Walt Disney stressed that the service will be distributed in collaboration with SoftBank Mobile. The service is targeted at women in their twenties and thirties, age groups profiled as users of Disney's content.
According to media sources in Japan, Sanyo Electric plans to dissolve its TV development joint venture with Taiwan's Quanta Computer as of January 30. The two companies announced in March 2006 that they would form a venture to manufacture and sell flat screen TVs. Following the announcement, however, Taiwan's AU Optronics Corporation agreed to buy Quanta Computer's liquid crystal display (LCD) unit, Quanta Display - a move that jeopardised the venture even before its establishment. Sanyo and Quanta did set up the TV JV in 2006 as planned, under the name of Sanyo Visual Technology and with a capitalisation of Ñ100 million ($937,300). The scope of the venture, so far, has been limited to product development and joint procurement of parts and materials.
China Netcom announced the formal opening of a new branch in Tokyo under the name of China Netcom (Japan). China Netcom (Japan) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Netcom and will be engaged in promoting the development of international voice, data lines and Internet services between China and Japan. The branch is expected to build closer relations with operators in Japan and the Asia Pacific region and to provide related wholesale services to international operators. China Netcom also said the Japanese branch will work with the company's branches in Hong Kong, the US and Europe to provide more convenience and better service to clients. China Netcom has been exploring the Japanese market for a long time and in March last year, it invested $2.8 million to set up a wholly-owned company to apply for telecom licenses from the Japanese authorities. In a related development, China Netcom said it has entered into an agreement with KDDI of Japan with regard to the broadcasting of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
NTT DoCoMo has raised its stake in Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co (PLDT), bringing the NTT group's overall holding in the Philippines' largest telecom operator to 20%. The acquisition of shares allows the Japanese firm to consider PLDT as an equity-method affiliate. DoCoMo, which controls more than half of Japan's mobile market, has acquired 12.5 million additional PLDT shares for Ñ86.7 billion ($812.5 million) since March 2007. The combined investment in PLDT by DoCoMo and NTT Communications, another unit of NTT, now totals Ñ164.3 billion ($1.5 billion).
According to the head of its international operation, YouTube has launched a localised service in South Korea to tap the country's fast-growing user-created content market. The company said it has secured content from local companies for its South Korean operation. A top official of YouTube, recognising the cultural and language barriers, said that the South Korean version will have locally-made content from seven local Internet, broadcasting and entertainment firms, including CJ Internet, TU Media and JYP Entertainment. The company faces problems of censorship, with the Korean government enforcing strict guidelines for sexual, violent, or politically controversial contents on websites. YouTube said it will do its best to comply with the South Korean regulations and added that its main focus is first to build global communities and then to consider how to make a profit.
Samsung Networks has launched of the first Voice-over-Internet (VoIP) service for mobile phones in South Korea. The service is called the Samsung Wyz 070 and enables mobile phone users to make and receive calls using the WiFi wireless Internet network. The company said the service is only available for corporate users who use Samsung Electronics' Blackjack smart phones but the plan is to expand it to more models, such as Blackberry. The development of a wireless Internet network has prompted VoIP firms to set eyes on mobile phones. Skype has introduced a VoIP mobile phone in Europe that uses the third-generation networks of mobile operators. Samsung Networks, a subsidiary of Samsung Group, said the firm will expand the coverage to 3G and Mobile WiMax networks in the future.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Opera Software has announced that South Korea-based POSBRO has selected the Opera browser for what is called the world's first portable WiMax gaming device. The POSBRO G100 takes advantage of the high data speeds offered by WiMax (4G) to deliver online gaming from a portable device. The device features a four-inch LCD touchscreen, with a slide-out game pad. In addition to WiMax, the G100 also supports connectivity via WiFi and Bluetooth. POSBRO has signed agreements with Korean mobile WiMax operator KT to provide an online gaming service via G100 starting in early 2008. The company said it will be launching the G100 in the US in the fourth quarter 2008 or in the first quarter of 2009. POSBRO was founded in September 2006 and acquired by POSDATA as a strategic base camp for WiMAX hand-held device development and service integration.
KT Freetel (KTF) posted a 40.7% drop in its net income in 2007, which it attributed to higher marketing costs as the company was gaining more subscribers overall as well as more 3G customers. KTF said its subscriber acquisition costs almost doubled year-on-year due to a substantial increase of sign-ups and 3G migrations. Its fourth quarter net income fell to W53.1 billion ($56 million) from W106.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2006, while the full year net income dropped to W244.1 billion from W411.7 billion the year before. Its fourth quarter revenues went up to W1.9 trillion from W1.3 trillion in the year-ago quarter, with its revenues for the full year registering a 12.1% growth to W7.3 billion. KTF had 13.7 million mobile subscribers as of the end of 2007 compared with 12.9 million at the end of 2006.
MagnaChip Semiconductor reported revenues of $246.5 million for the three months ended December 31, 2007, up from $162.3 million declared in the fourth quarter of 2006. The company said its net loss amounted to $29.5 million, compared to a net loss of $45.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2006.
Onse Telecom Corporation, a South Korean fixed-line communications operator, is preparing to enter the local mobile telecommunications market, a move that could provide cheaper services by generating competition in the market. Onse Telecom said that it has set up a mobile business task force that will soon unveil detailed plans of its envisioned business which will provide services as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). MVNO refers to a business operator whose mobile service is based on a borrowed network. Currently, the South Korean mobile communications market is dominated by three carriers û SK Telecom, KTF LG Telecom. Onse is the first company to officially express an intention to enter the MVNO market. The government recently crafted a bill that would allow smaller companies to enter the mobile service market as an MVNO to prompt market competition and a decline in communications costs for customers. The bill is expected to be submitted to parliament in February.
Daum Communications, Microsoft and Celrun will set up a joint venture to offer Internet protocol television services in South Korea in February. Under the agreement, Daum, South Korea's second-largest web portal and search engine company, will develop the IPTV content, while Microsoft will offer the latest version of its Internet television software platform, Microsoft Mediaroom. South Korean digital device maker Celrun will provide set-top boxes and other digital devices. According to industry observers, technology companies are investing large amounts of funds to develop IPTV services and to offer real-time TV programs as well as interactive services to generate new sources of revenues. Details of the equity stakes in the entity and other financial matters were not disclosed.
The9 Limited reported that its chief financial officer and senior vice president Hannah Lee will resign at the end of February 2008. The Chinese internet gaming operator said it has initiated a search for an individual to assume the position about to be vacated by Lee. The9 is also expected to announce the appointment of an acting CFO.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
According to media sources, Dentsu, the largest advertisement company in Japan, is seeking to cooperate with ChinaÆs Focus Media to establish an online advertising firm in China. Sources said the joint venture is going to be named Dian Zhong Digital. The joint venture is expected to be set up in Beijing at the end of March with a total registered capital of $9 million. Under the agreement, Dentsu will own 67% of the new company, while Focus Media's affiliate Huaguang Advertising (Hong Kong) will own the remaining 33%. The agreement will see Dentsu appoint a president for the company. It will also integrate its existing online advertising service in Beijing and Shanghai. The venture is expected to generate $46.8 million in business revenue in the first year.
ROK Entertainment has acquired a strategic stake in Matchday Entertainment, a China-based subsidiary of Asia Poker, to deploy the first 3D online poker in China. Matchday's 3D service is tailored specifically to the Chinese market and only players from China are allowed to participate on this platform. Local customer service personnel will be available to provide full player assistance.
China Finance Online (CFO), a leading financial information, data and analytics provider in China, has entered into an alliance agreement with China Telecom, the largest wireline telecommunications and broadband services provider in China. The agreement is aimed at making available a variety of financial information services to more than 40 million broadband users across China Telecom's Internet platform and offline distribution network. Under the agreement, CFO and China Telecom will establish and maintain a co-branded financial channel on China Telecom's broadband portal Vnet, one of the most visited websites in China that also serves as the payment platform for China Telecom's broadband subscribers. CFO will provide accurate, timely and comprehensive financial content to JRJC-Vnet Finance, the co-branded finance channel, and develop subscription-based financial information and analytical products dedicated to China Telecom's broadband subscribers. The agreement will see the two companies sharing the revenues according to the agreed-upon scheme under the alliance agreement.
ò Shanghai announced that it has entered into a wireless city agreement with Jiading District. Dubbed the Shanghai Jiading Wireless City Cooperation Agreement, the agreement is considered the first wireless city programme signed by the government. It also marks the formal launch of ShanghaiÆs programme to become a wireless city. Under the deal, China Comm will be responsible for the construction of about 200-300 Wi-Fi base stations around the district. Other cities û Beijing, Tianjin, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Shenzhen û have expressed their plans to build their own city-wide Wi-Fi networks.
ò IBM and Lehman Brothers jointly announced that they have invested some $20 million in VeriSilicon, a Shanghai-based original equipment manufacturer for integrated circuit design. The companies said the investment will be done through the China Investment Fund, a commercial alliance co-established by IBM and Lehman Brothers in October 2006 to promote Chinese enterprises' financial and business shift through innovative services and technologies. VeriSilicon will utilize the funds to speed up the development of its system on chip platform and expand its special IC turn-key service.
ò China Telecom announced that for the year 2008, it aims to organise a series of organisational reforms. The reforms will begin with the review and approval of an agreement regarding its merger with 20 wholly-owned companies. The announcement also said that China TelecomÆs affiliate North Telecom will be changed into North Telecom Business Department under China Telecom's direct control. The company said it also plans to restructure its marketing department with the aim of widening the function of the department. This restructuring, according to the company, will be followed by the formation of a government and enterprise client department to focus on the following: a comprehensive information service, an Internet and value-added service department and a marketing department.
ò ZTE Corporation announced that it will issue Rmb4 billion yuan ($555 million) worth of convertible bonds in a bid to raise funds for 11 projects. The projects include the development and production of TD-SCDMA equipment. With the plan, ZTE will offer 40 million five-year bonds, each with a nominal value of Rmb100 ($13.8), to existing A-share holders, and will offer warrants to bond subscribers. The Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer said the proceeds from the proposed issuance of convertible bonds will be used to fund the R & D and production of TD-SCDMA high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) system equipment and TD-SCDMA terminal products, as well as the commercialization of TD-SCDMA upgrade technology and RFID (radio frequency identification) systems, the development of handset platforms, the construction of next-generation wireless broadband software radio platforms, the industrialization of next-generation IP-based multi-media service networks and the industrialization of next-generation optical network transmission equipment. The announcement placed the total amount needed for these projects as reaching Rmb6.5 billion ($908.9 million).
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò According to Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), it has signed a letter of intent with Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) for the latter to provide an educational programme in Taiwan. The aim of the programme is to develop local professional game developers. The SCE has about 750 partners, companies or educational institutions, in Japan dedicated to game R&D, and the managing director of SCE Asia indicated that many of them will participate in the educational programme in Taiwan. SCE has been negotiating with several universities in Taiwan for cooperation in the training project. The trainees will be university students and career seekers, and they will have opportunities to develop games for PlayStation 3, PSP (PS Portable) and other Sony games consoles.
ò Belgium-based IMEC announced its establishment of the IMEC Taiwan in Taiwan's Hsinchu Science Park as a representative office. The company said the office is expected to grow into an R&D centre within the coming six months. IMEC Taiwan aims at facilitating the access for Taiwanese semiconductor companies to IMEC's R&D programmes and tap into the local high technology skills. The establishment of IMEC Taiwan follows several memoranda of understanding and collaborations between IMEC and Taiwanese companies, R&D institutes and universities, with the strong support of the National Science Council Taiwan. IMEC intends to reinforce its collaborations in Taiwan by focusing on semiconductor process technology research with foundries, on IC and system design with companies and academia, on dedicated training. IMEC is Europe's leading independent research centre in the field of micro- and nano-electronics, nano-technology, enabling design methods and technologies for ICT (information and communication technology) systems.Hong Kong
ò Wunderman, a member of Young and Rubicam and a division of WPP's network, announced its acquisition of Agenda Group, a Hong Kong-based e-business and consulting services. Founded in Malaysia, Agenda has offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, and Kuala Lumpur. With the acquisition, Agenda is expected to provide Wunderman with online strategy, web development and management, online advertising, online media and web analytics capabilities and resources for its global network clients across the region. No financial details of the deal were released. Earlier, WundermanÆs rival Dentsu disclosed its plan to set up a new Chinese Internet advertising venture. WPP is one of the world's leading communications services groups, providing national, multinational and global clients with advertising; media investment management; information, insight & consultancy; public relations and public affairs; and branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications.
ò PCCW announced its decision to rent the service centre of Guangdong Netcom and the related facilities for a period of 15 years with an additional five years for possible rental renewal. Guangdong Netcom is an affiliate of China Netcom. PCCW reported that the rental sum for the service centre would vary from Rmb28.1 million ($4 million) in the first year to Rmb43.1 million ($6 million) in the last year. PCCW explained that the agreement would enable it to provide more reliable service to its customers.
ò Fernbach, a leading international provider of solutions for Enterprise-wide Value and Risk Management (EVRM), announced the opening of another international branch office in Hong Kong. According to its director for Asia/Pacific, the market in the region has great potential for the company especially for the sale and support of its IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards) solution. The report takes note of the IFRS software from Fernbach as being based on an intelligent, centralised Data Management Suite, which will enable Chinese banks to overcome the challenges imposed on financial institutions by IFRS compliance. Fernbach APAC will help implement the banking software and provide local assistance in the form of sales, customer support and consulting services. A team of IFRS experts, who will use their in-depth know-how and local cultural knowledge to support Fernbach customers, is currently being put together in Hong Kong.
ò Telekom Malaysia looks to generating as much as $700 million in an initial share sale of its wireless unit on the Kuala Lumpur exchange to fund overseas expansion. According to the CEO of TM International, Telekom MalaysiaÆs wireless unit, Telekom Malaysia may also sell a separate stake in its mobile division to a strategic investor. The Kuala Lumpur-based company said it plans to split its wireless unit, whose assets the operator has valued at M$28 billion ($8.6 billion) from the fixed-line division, where sales have been eroded as users switch to mobile phones. Telekom is the holding company for Celcom, Telekom's domestic cellular business, and owns stakes in mobile phone operators in nine countries including Indonesia's Excelcomindo Pratama and India's Spice Communications. The same CEO has listed Vodafone, Emirates Telecommunications, AT&T, China Mobile, Orascom Telecom and Vivendi, as among the companies that have expressed interest in acquiring a strategic stake in Telekom.
ò According to its chairman, Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) and its subsidiary Pilipino Telephone (Piltel) are considering buying back shares and declaring dividends, respectively. The official described PLDT as ôan excellent buy.ö The company considered giving special dividends or buying back shares in 2007 as a way of giving back more money to shareholders if it would not use its growing income to buy new companies or create new subsidiaries. The company said its 2007 financial performance has placed it in a position to buy back shares. The company expected the 2007 results to go beyond the 2006 core net income of Ps31.5 billion pesos ($772.6 million) and the reported income of Ps35.1 billion ($861 million). The company also received a boost from the announcement made by NTT DoCoMo, which posted the news on its web site that it has acquired 12.5 million additional shares of common stock of PLDT between March 2007 and January 22, 2008.
ò Malaysian Science, Technology and Innovation minister was quoted as saying that Google has shown interest to invest in Malaysia. The official said further discussions would be held with the US company on the matter. As a business, Google generates revenue by providing advertisers with cost-effective online advertising. In Asia, Google has offices in China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan. The official noted that MalaysiaÆs Multimedia Super Corridor is now a community of almost 2,000 companies and more than 40,000 knowledge workers. The official said the community was not confined to Cyberjaya, the country's information and communications technology hub, but also extended to other locations provided for under the multimedia corridor area of coverage.
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