Dell Japan plans to increase the number of supermarkets and electronics mass merchandisers offering its personal computers by 20% to 600 this year as part of efforts to bolster PC sales to individuals. The company has increased its domestic market share via an online sales model that allows customers to select their own PC specifications, but most sales have been to corporate customers. To increase sales to consumers, the company plans to boost the percentage of sales achieved through retailers to 50% in fiscal 2009 from 10% at present. Dell will create a structure that enables customers who have purchased PCs online to get technical support and repairs via electronics mass merchandisers.
Toshiba Corporation has announced a new line-up of 1.8-inch hard disk drives (HDD), adopting a serial ATA interface, including the industry's first drive of this type with a capacity of 160 gigabytes. The new 160GB drive and an 80GB drive will enter mass production in August. ToshibaÆs new 1.8-inch HDDs boost interface speed to 1.5Gbps and offer a rotation speed of 5,400 rpm, faster than the current generation of Toshiba 1.8-inch HDD.
Japanese mobile phone venture Emobile has unveiled two new handsets as it aims to achieve greater presence in the domestic mobile phone market, following its launch of wireless voice services in March. The H11HW handset, made by ChinaÆs Huawei Technologies, is scheduled to go on sale at Emobile outlets and online, while the ''Emonster lite'', made by TaiwanÆs High Tech Computer Corp, is planned to be released in late July. Both models boast high-speed data communication services. Among other features, the Emonster lite has a touch-panel slide screen with a keyboard and at a thickness of only 15.8mm it is the slimmest model in Japan.
Shipments of cellular phones and PHS (personal handyphone system) handsets within Japan sank 21.1% to 3.29 million units in April. The decline is blamed on flagging subscriber growth and lackluster replacement demand due to new plans introduced by various cell phone providers that require customers to use the same handset for two years. Shipments have now fallen for three straight months on a year-on-year basis. Total shipments fell 5% in the January-April period to 17.21 million units.
NTT DoCoMo will cut its monthly fees to match rivals KDDI Corp and Softbank Corp, further intensifying an ongoing price war in the mature Japanese market. DoCoMo, which holds about half of Japan's mobile phone market, will lower its cheapest price plan by nearly 7% percent to Ñ980 ($9.10) a month from July. Second-ranked KDDI started offering a Ñ980-a-month plan at the beginning of June to better compete with No. 3 carrier Softbank, which has won more new subscribers than its bigger rivals on a net basis for the past 13 months thanks to a low-price strategy and aggressive marketing.
Japan's Elpida said it is open to a share swap or the acquisition of a stake in Infineon's Qimonda. The remarks gave new hope to investors that Infineon could finally find a buyer for its struggling chips business and sent its shares more than 5% higher. Earlier this year, Germany-based Infineon wrote down its stake in Qimonda by Eur1 billion in preparation for a sale as the memory chipmaker dipped into the red and prepared to slash jobs. Infineon has failed to find a buyer its 77% stake in Qimonda after carving out and listing the unit in 2006 in the hope of cutting exposure to the volatile memory chip market.
SK Telecom denied market talk that it was seeking to buy local set-top box maker Humax. Founded in 1989 and listed on the Korean stock exchange, Humax exports digital satellite set top boxes to more than 90 countries worldwide. The company's international headquarters and R&D facility are based in Korea and Poland and it also has offices in Dubai, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US.
South Korea plans to increase subsidies of mobile phone fees for people in the low income bracket to help them cope with mounting inflation. The government will pay up to 50% of all mobile phone calls, up from the current 35%, and all minimum monthly fees for the underprivileged. It will also simplify subsidy application paperwork. South Korea's consumer inflation hit a seven-year high of 4.9% in May, breaching the Bank of Korea's 2.5%-3.5% target for the sixth straight month.
Samsung Electronics unveiled its full-touch screen phone ôOMNIA(SGH-i900)ö, sporting a user-friendly Haptics UI and similar in function to a PC. The new phone incorporates leading mobile handset technologies and features for more enhanced convenience and powerful functions. OMINA is said to be the first of its kind, allowing users to enjoy both the innovative Haptics UI and Windows Mobile 6.1.
LG Electronics plans to launch its latest premium handset model in Central and South America and will hold a launch ceremony for its LG-KF755 model, nicknamed "Secret," in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 11.8 millimetre-thin handset with a built-in five-megapixel camera made its overseas debut in Europe in late May, where it sold 200,000 units in just two weeks. The handset will be sold through various mobile carriers in the region, including Vivo, Claro of Brazil and Movistar in Venezuela. Sales of LG Electronics handsets in Central and South America have posted 70% growth in the past few years, thanks to the popularity of its "Black Label", "Chocolate" and "Shine" models that were released in 2006 and 2007.
Following the lead of Samsung Electronics, LG Display will begin mass-producing embedded touch screen LCD panels this year. Centered on mobile phones and small- and medium-sized mobile devices, demand for touch screens has surged and companies are turning to touch screen embedded LCD panels that can increase production efficiency at cheaper cost. Samsung Electronics began mass-producing touch screen embedded LCD panels for mobile devices like mobile phones early this year. By end of 2008, LG Display plans to mass-produce seven-inch LCD panels for navigation devices. It has been producing 3.5-inch and 4.3-inch small size panels for touch screens since late last year but not the embedded style.
Samsung Electronics remained dominant in the world LCD market in the first quarter. In particular, Samsung ranked first with a 22.2% market share by value and 19.6% by quantity in the fiercely competitive LCD TV market, broadening the gap to number two player Sony. According to Displaysearch, a market survey agency, Sony had an 18.1% share of the LCD TV market by value in January-March (13.3% by volume), Sharp had 10.1% (9.1% by volume), LG Electronics 9.7% (10.5% by volume) and Philips 7.8% (8.7% by volume). Samsung Electronics sold 4.136 million units in the global LCD TV market, up more than 70% from 2.357 million units in the first quarter of last year, and occupied the No.1 spot by quantity for the seventh quarter in a row.
China's annual shipment of multimedia mobile phones is expected to hit 133 million units by 2011, accounting for about 80% of the country's total mobile phone shipment. China, the world's largest mobile phone market, is going to enter a new epoch and multimedia mobile phones are expected to become much more popular. Chinese consumers, who in the past preferred low-priced mobile phones, are showing increasing interest in mobile phones with functions such as music players and cameras. Mobile phones that can play videos and broadcast TV programs are also drawing more attention.
Research and Markets reports that the number of mobile enterprise e-mail subscribers in China will see triple digit growth over the next five years as the mobile e-mail movement gains firm ground within Chinese enterprises. At present, the enterprise market for mobile messaging remains under-penetrated and there are significant opportunities in the PRC for this technology. China is already the largest mobile communications market in the world, with over 400 million subscribers and as the country ascends into one of the most significant economies in the world, many of its enterprise managers are depending on mobile messaging.
Sharp will target wealthy users in China with a mobile phone launch later this month, seeking growth in a market that has defeated its Japanese peers. Sharp is aiming for upscale users in Shanghai and Beijing to avoid direct competition from lower-priced phones by global leaders such as Nokia and Samsung Electronics, which have greater economies of scale. Fellow Japanese handset makers Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, NEC and Kyocera have all pulled out of China market after failing to earn a profit in this price-competitive market, despite a lineup of some of the world's most cutting-edge phones.
China's homegrown 3G mobile service, the TD-SCDMA standard, has drawn a cool response from the public. Only slightly more than 3,000 handsets have been sold since a commercial trial was launched two months ago. To lift the service's popularity, China Mobile Communications Corporation, the parent of Hong Kong-listed China Mobile, last week unveiled the second phase of a free trial by inviting up to 60,000 existing China Mobile customers to join the service. That could boost the number of 3G users on the mainland from 20,000 to 80,000. However, doubts about the quality of the service remain. China Mobile, the nation's largest mobile operator, is expected to be awarded a TD-SCDMA 3G licence later this year, after the the completion of a telecom industry restructuring in the third quarter.
Huawei Technologies has announced that a recent report by industry consulting firm Broadbandtrends, ranked it first in the global DSL market with a market share of over 31%. This demonstrates Huawei's leading position in the global broadband access market. Huawei has seen increased DSL port shipments even as total industry sales declined 14%. The report also shows that IP DSLAM Ports represent 75 percent of total DSL ports. Huawei had shipped a total of 150 million lines of access equipment including 70 million DSLAM ports to over 96 countries and regions.
Huawei Technologies has signed a contract with Grameenphone, the largest mobile operator in Bangladesh, to expand and enhance its mobile-phone network. The mainland's top wireless equipment maker will help upgrade GrameenphoneÆs infrastructure to an all-internet protocol (all-IP) network, which will enable the convergence of mobile phone and radio-access systems, providing a smooth transition to 3G and future access technologies. The deal is worth more than $500 million over three years. Majority-owned by Norway's Telenor, Grameenphone last year invested more than $500 million on expansion. It had about 18 million customers as of last month.
Media, entertainment and gaming
The shareholders meeting of NetDragon Websoft approved the company's plan to switch from Hong KongÆs Growth Enterprise Market to the main board on June 24. NetDragon is Mainland China's eighth largest online game company and operates a series of massively-multiplayer online roll-playing games (MMORPG). NetDragon floated its shares on the GEM board in December 2007.
China's online game industry maintained a fast growth rate in the first quarter of 2008, but investors doubt that the market is approaching saturation. Statistics from Analysys International show that Shanda Interactive Entertainment is still the market leader. Benefiting from massively multiplayer roll-playing games and seasonal proceeds from casual online games, the company's operating revenue from online games reached Rmb745 million ($108 million) in the first quarter. NetEase.com, which has the second largest market share in the industry, posted online game operating revenues of Rmb532 million thanks to a strong performance by its Fantasy Westward Journey game during the 2008 Spring Festival. Besides Shanda and NetEase, Giant Interactive Group and The9 also respectively had operating revenues of more than $60 million in the first quarter.
Beijing RedFlag Chinese 2000 Software introduced its brand-new Red Office 4.0 office software, which will go on sale on July 1. The Red Office 4.0 is compatible with the Windows and Linux operating systems and includes six components, namely word, excel, powerpoint, draw, calculate and database. The Red Office 4.0 meets the domestic new-generation document format standard, the UOF, as well as the corresponding international standard, the ODF. The new software is also compatible with Microsoft's Office, HTML, XML, RTF and TXT formats and can produce high-quality PDF files.
Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) is finalising a sale of shares to several strategic investors, which may include a state-owned company. The chipmaker was talking to as many as four investors about a partnership and said it preferred to sell a stake to a strategic partner, such as a customer, rather than a financial institution. Potential buyers might include some US private equity funds, Shanghai-based Hua Hong Group and Burnon International, all of which have previously been linked to SMIC.
Chunghwa Telecom expects to launch telecom services in Cambodia as part of a plan to expand overseas. The company will collaborate with Vietnamese operator Viettel, with which it set up a $30 million joint venture in May. The firm declined to give a specific timeline for when the services would be launched or any investment figures. Chunghwa Telecom has started to invest in Vietnam and Thailand and plans to invest in every Southeast Asian country besides Myanmar. Viettel, wholly-owned by the Vietnam military, has become a dominant telecom operator in Vietnam, taking up about a third of the mobile phone market. Viettel competes with Vinaphone and MobiFone, both mobile phone providers owned by state-run Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications.
Chunghwa Telecom has raised its year-end subscriber target for third-generation (3G) telecom services to 3.3 million from an earlier goal of 3.0 million. The company currently has 2.8 million 3G users. Chunghwa is undertaking various promotions, including providing free handsets, to attract more subscribers.
LG Electronics aims to sell $100 million worth of handsets in Taiwan this year, making it the No. 4 brand. LG recently unveiled the third generation of the LG KF Secret series handsets in Taiwan, and targets sales of 150,000 units on the island. Sales of its first generation LG KF Chocolate series reached 18 million units globally, including 150,000 units in Taiwan, as well as 7 million units of the second generation Shine series, of which 100,000 units were sold in Taiwan. Unfazed by the AppleÆs new edition iPhone, LG believes that the increasingly shorter lifecycle for mobile phones will require manufacturers to have a wide ranging lineup of phones in order to be competitive.
Acer Inc said JT Wang has been re-elected as chairman and also named him the CEO of Acer Group with immediate effect. Separately, company president Gianfranco Lanci has assumed the role of Acer Inc CEO. Wang will manage the business of the group and its affiliates, it said, with Lanci being responsible for Acer's business.
Delta Electronics reported consolidated sales revenues for 2007 of NT$130.6 billion ($4.3 billion) and net income after tax of NT$15.1 billion. Each one thousand shares shall receive a stock dividends of 20 new shares (10 from retained earnings and 10 from the capital reserve) and a cash dividend of NT$5,500. Shareholders also approved the issuance of new shares to raise capital and the removal of the non-competition restrictions on Directors.
Compal Electronics has appointed former Dell executive John Medica, 49, to the newly created post as vice chairman. Medica will also take up the position of corporate advisor, Tapei-based Compal said. His role will include product planning. Medica retired from Dell last year after 14 years with the Texas-based company, where he was senior vice president of products. He has also worked at Apple for 10 years.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) unit Global Unichip has secured shareholder approval to establish a subsidiary in China. Global Unichip plans to close its representative office in Shanghai once the mainland subsidiary has been set up. The integrated circuits design house will apply to the Investment Commission at Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs for approval to make the China-bound investment. Global Unichip has yet to decide on the location of the subsidiary, which will also handle sales and customer services. TSMC, which owns 38% of the unit, will continue to be the sole provider of contract manufacturing services for Global Unichip.
MediaTek expects first half shipments of integrated circuits for cellular phone handsets to rise more than 40% from a year earlier. MediaTek supplies handsets to Spice and Airtel in India. It also delivers handset ICs to the Middle East, South Africa and Russia.
Media, entertainment and gaming
Television Broadcasts (TVB) has selected capacity on the EUROBIRD 9 satellite operated by Eutelsat Communications to launch its new multi-channel digital platform of Chinese-language channels for satellite homes across Europe. For the first time in Europe, TVB's subsidiary ôThe Chinese Channelö is offering a line-up of five of the group's flagship infotainment channels including ôTVBS-Europeö which specialises in Hong Kong drama series, local news and Chinese community events in Europe. The channels are broadcast in Cantonese and uplinked to EUROBIRD 9 by Eutelsat's Skylogic affiliate from its teleport in Turin.
Lenovo Group has completed the acquisition of the Mexican personal computer business of Sanmina-SCI, pushing forward its manufacturing expansion efforts in North America despite an expected slowdown in technology spending on the continent this year. The acquired assets will form part of Lenovo's new 24,155 square metre Monterrey facility, which is due to start up in the third quarter of this year. Lenovo, the world's fourth-largest personal computer supplier, will spend as much as $15 million developing its facility in Monterrey, a key industrial city and the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon.
Malaysian mobile phone firm TM International has no plans to sell its stake in India's Spice Communications. TM International holds 39.2% in the Indian telecom services provider, which has operations in two of the country's 23 telecom circles. The Malaysian company does not rule out merging its Indian mobile assets with other players as it aims to grow the business fast. But the executive declined to confirm if the group has been approached by Idea Cellular, India's No.6 mobile operator, for a preference share deal aimed at facilitating a merger between Idea and Spice. According to the Economic Times, which cited people close to the developmen. Idea will make a preferential offer to the Malaysian company as part of a deal to buy smaller rival Spice.
Singapore Technologies Telemedia, a subsidiary of SingaporeÆs state investment company Temasek Holdings, is to end its six-year investment in Indosat by selling its 30.6% stake to Qatar Telecom. The sale of IndonesiaÆs second largest telecoms company was motivated by the offer price of S$2.4 billion ($2 billion), which represents a 30% premium to the market price, and by IndosatÆs record revenue and high subscriber growth. Temasek, STT and Singapore Telecommunications, which is 54% owned by Temasek and has a 35% stake in IndonesiaÆs largest mobile phone groupTelekomunikasi Selular, have been convicted of violating cross-ownership laws and of seeking to control prices in IndonesiaÆs mobile phone market.