Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Market sources indicate that the PlayStation 3 (PS3) console has hit 1 million unit sales in PAL regions, including the U.K. and the rest of Europe. Industry observers say the news is welcome news to Sony after reports showed that Nintendo's Wii console was outselling the PS3 by a 5:1 margin. The device has sold 1 million units in nine-and-half weeks following its launch in March, making it the more popular console than both the PlayStation and PlayStation 2.
ò Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc., referring to its anti-takeover measure against Rakuten Inc., said it has consulted an advisory panel of experts whether it should counter the online shopping mall operator's move. Industry sources said directors of the major TV and radio station have adopted a resolution on the panel. The six-member panel will hear directly from Rakuten president about the purpose of his company's plan to raise its stake in TBS to a level above 20 percent from 19.8 percent at present. Sources said the panel will analyze the additional share acquisition plan for up to 90 days and decide whether to identify Rakuten as an aggressive acquirer that should be subjected to a poison pill. In 2005, In October 2005, Rakuten asked TBS to merge with it after acquiring a 15.4 percent stake in the broadcaster, with RakutenÆs move to merger as being based on the rationale that there would be merits in fusing TV broadcasting with Internet services.
ò Konami, a Japanese software maker, revealed its plans to launch a skincare guide for use on Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s portable game gear DS. Konami said it is looking to giving beauty tips based on users' basal body temperature and hormone balance. The DS has two screens, opens like a book and allows gamers to control play with a stylus, instead of manipulating a keypad. Konami Digital Entertainment is Konami's game software unit.
ò Nickelodeon announced that it has entered into an agreement with Sony Music Label Group and SONY BMG Commercial Music Group to jointly develop and finance TV and music projects over the next four years. The two companies said the agreement includes activities in areas like apparel and electronics. Nickelodeon is a division of Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks.
ò The Japanese web site Yahoo Music announced that it has entered into an alliance with Apple's iTunes music store enabling iPod users to download songs and other content. Under the offering, those who have AppleÆs digital music players will now be able to search for musicians, tracks and albums on the Yahoo site. According to Yahoo Japan, it aims to provide broader content and functions. Since its introduction in 2001, Apple has sold more than 100 million iPods, with the device cornering about 75 percent of the global MP3 player market. Apple's online iTunes store sells digital music, podcasts, video and films. The decision is seen as easing as replacing Mora, a download service run by Sony-affiliated LabelGate.
ò Sony Ericsson announced its filing of a U.S. patent application for a mobile device with video game features although it stated that it not yet set to launch a phone based on its PlayStation Portable (PSP) video game brand. Earlier, Sony Ericsson said it did not count out the development of a device fitted with its own technology and that of SonyÆs portable video game technology.
ò Sony Corp. released a statement indicating that the company sees its electronics sales growth outpacing the industry in the current fiscal year. The company attributes this growth to the continuing demand for big televisions and digital cameras, with a decline in component pricing expected to benefit profits. According to the president and CEO of SonyÆs electronics arm, the company's electronics sales posted a 7 percent growth percent in the fiscal year that ended in March. The Japanese company holds an 18 percent share of consumer electronics sales in the U.S.
ò Media sources indicate that Yahoo Japan Corp. will become the top shareholder in Telewave Inc., an IT services provider, when it has acquired a 20 percent stake in the firm for 3.7 billion yen (US$30.4 million). The deal is expected to take place next Wednesday. Telewave has been a sales agent for Yahoo Japan, signing up many businesses for the web portal operator's shopping mall and auction services.
ò Domestic Internet portal sites in the country are accusing their government of using taxpayersÆ money to help their biggest foreign rival, Google. Media sources said South KoreaÆs Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy encouraged Google by saying the ministry would provide up to 80 percent of labor costs for programmers and up to 50 percent of accommodation expenses for employees from Google headquarters who come to the country to train Korean staff. The complaints mentioned that when SK Communications and NHN entered the U.S. market, it did not get any support from the government of the U.S. or South Korea.
ò KTF, the nation's second-largest mobile operator, announced the launching a high speed up-link packet access, or HSUPA, commercial network. HSUPA, which enables fast data uploading speed, is an upgrade of the wireless technology known as high speed down-link packet access. KTF is the first Korean mobile operator to launch such a network. The company said the service using USB-type devices will begin in major cities including Seoul, Busan, Dajeon, Gwangju and Daegu, with the nationwide service available in October this year.
ò According to the countryÆs Ministry of Information and Communication, subscribers to mobile broadcasting services in South Korea have exceeded 6.4 million in May. The technology launched in 2005 allows consumers to receive audio and video data on mobile devices such as cell phones, car navigation systems and portable multimedia players. The report said there were 5.3 million terrestrial DMB device users and 1.1 million satellite DMB subscribers. According to the data, of the terrestrial DMB users, 2.3 million received broadcasts through car navigation devices, 2 million through mobile phones and the rest through portable multimedia players and other devices, the data showed. Of the 1.1 million satellite DMB subscribers, 1 million received the service via mobile phone. Terrestrial DMB is free, but revenues are generated when subscribers pay monthly fees for satellite DMB services.
ò In what is seen as the peak of high-end televisions, Samsung Electronics announced the debut of a 70-inch full high-definition LCD TV that has the world's largest commercially available LCD panel. On record, the appliance is seen as an exceptional piece of technology as most consumers prefer their LCD TVs around 40 inches. Sharp holds the record of putting on the market the next largest LCD TV on the market, with its 65-inch display. Samsung also said that in line with the trend in big screen TVs, it plans to release the 70-incher to the rest of the world starting with Europe in the second half of this year.
ò LG Group announced that its market capitalization has topped 50 trillion won (US$54.1 billion) for the first time, with the total market value of twelve LG Group affiliates adding more than 1 trillion won (US$1 billion) to hit 50.7 trillion won (US$55 billion). The figure marks a 40 percent climb from the business groupÆs market capitalization early this year. In terms of market capitalization, Samsung Group leads the pack, followed by LG, Hyundai Motor and SK. Industry observers attribute the growth in LG's market value to the rising stock prices of affiliates such as LG Electronics, LG Philips LCD and LG Chem.
ò BigBand Networks, Inc., a global provider of broadband multimedia infrastructure for video, voice and data, announced that South Korean cable operator Keumkang Cable Networks has deployed the Broadband Multimedia-Services Router (BMR) to deliver digital television service. Keumkang purchased the equipment through BigBand's Korean partner, Cudo Communications. Keumkang Cable serves a large region southwest of Seoul, surrounding the Korean city of Iksan. The operator offers 110 channels of digital television, pay per view services and high-speed Internet. Industry observers note that the South Korean cable industry is one of the more advanced in the world; its operators offer a variety of digital video and IP services, and a wide range of content. Earlier, the South Korean government recently announced the country's plans to migrate to all-digital television services by 2012. Cudo Communications is an independent system integrator and solution provider in the digital broadcasting industry. Cudo provides customers with turnkey solutions, focusing on consulting, integration and management of high-quality digital services. BigBand Networks, Inc. provides broadband service providers with innovative network solutions designed to make it easier to move, manage and monetize video.
ò Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. revealed its plan to invest some US$3.5 billion in its 10-year-old U.S. chip plant by 2008 to produce flash memory chips. Samsung is considered the worldÆs largest memory chip maker. With the investment plan, Samsung also unveiled a new NAND flash memory production line and, according to observers, marks the first time that the company revealed the total amount it will invest in the NAND facility. The plant is expected to produce flash memory chips for use in popular consumer gadgets such as cell phones and digital cameras. Samsung is the world leader in both DRAM and NAND, followed by Hynix, which is also a South Korean company, and is No. 2 in DRAM production. Toshiba is the second-largest NAND maker. Samsung said the NAND production line would begin operations in the second half of 2007. The plant located in Texas, the companyÆs only semiconductor plant outside South Korea, currently produces only DRAM chips, used in personal computers.
ò Hynix Semiconductor announced that it has sealed an agreement with Hanyang University to establish the Department of Nano Semiconductor Engineering in its graduate school. The aim of the program is to develop next-generation semiconductor technologies and educate competent researchers. The two parties expect to produce about 120 masters and doctoral students by 2013.
ò Toshiba Corp issued a denial regarding media reports indicating that it has plans to acquire part of Royal Philips Electronics NV's stake in LG Philips LCD of South Korea. The reports mentioned that Philips was set to sell 14 percent of LG Philips LCD to Toshiba Corp. LG Philips LCD is a joint venture between Philips and South Korea's LG Electronics. In the venture, LG Electronics owns 37.9 percent while Philips holds 32.9 percent. Currently, Toshiba holds a stake of about 20 percent in LG Philips LCD's Polish subsidiary.
ò Samsung Electronics revealed its plans to build a large-scale TV factory near Moscow, with the company describing the 195,000-sq.m TV factory as worth some US$57 million. The company remains the leading brand of LCD and plasma TVs in Russia with a 20.7 market share for LCD TVs and a 22.9 percent share for plasma TVs as of April. It is followed by Philips with a 20.5 percent market share and LG Electronics with 21.8 percent. With the factory, Samsung is targeting a production of 2.2 million units annually by 2010. The Russian factory will be the ninth for SamsungÆs, with the company maintaining plants in South Korea, China, Mexico, Slovakia, Hungary, Thailand, Indonesia and Brazil.
ò According to an official of MySpace China, the company has extended invitations to technicians for them to test a beta version of an instant messaging service. MySpace China said the roll-out of the service will depend on user feedback and whether the performance is able to satisfy users' demands even as the company said it looks to launching the service as soon as possible. Social networks like MySpace allow users to share images, music, videos and blogs. They are very popular among teenagers and young clients. Media sources place MySpace ChinaÆs users at 600,000. MySpace China is a locally owned, operated and managed company that has secured investment from MySpace Inc., publisher IDG and China Broadband Capital Partners L.P., a fund operated by Edward Tian, the former chief of China Netcom Group.
ò According to Google ChinaÆs president, the Internet giant is moving its servers from the U.S. to China in a bid to hasten its development in the country. Media sources indicated that Google have also plans to launch more products in China. The reports also took note of the fact that, if Google is placing its servers in China, it has to consider the data, privacy and Internet laws in the country. In the past, Microsoft and Yahoo encountered similar data problems in China.
ò Sina.com and Google announced their entering into a strategic agreement. Under the deal, Google's web page search service will be embedded in Sina's search box, which will enable users to switch between online content and web page search. The two companies also revealed their future plans, which include the widening of their cooperation to cover news and other content areas.
ò GoMacau.com announced its acquisition of it 100 percent of Macau.com, Macau's top Internet site, with the CEO of Macau.com calling the move as significantly extending GoMacauÆs consumer reach. GoMacau.com is owned by MKW Capital Management, a private equity fund that also owns VIVA Macau, an international airline and other businesses based in Macau. With the agreement, Macau.com will now serve as Macau's premier portal enabling users access to a wide variety of Macau-related information and businesses, including news, real estate, employment, gaming, exhibitions and travel.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited, a leading interactive entertainment media company in China, announced that it has entered into an exclusive agreement with South Korean online game developer Actoz Soft Co., Ltd. for the exclusive license to operate X-Up, a 3D online sports-themed table tennis game, in mainland China. The game is expected to enter open-beta testing in China in the fourth quarter of 2007. X-Up is described as an action-packed online 3D table tennis game featuring uniquely detailed characters, authentic apparel and equipment, distinct styles of play, and lifelike player animation. Actoz Soft Co., Ltd. is a leading South Korean developer, operator and publisher of online games. It holds co-copyrights to several of the leading online games in China, including Mir II and Mir III. Actoz has also licensed online games to other markets, including Europe, Japan, India, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. In addition, Actoz develops online games and operates certain online games in South Korea. Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited is a leading interactive entertainment media company in China. Shanda offers a portfolio of diversified entertainment content including some of the most popular massively multi-player and casual online games in China, along with online chess and board games, network PC games and a variety of cartoons, literature works and music.
ò AliPay said it has joined the BDC market of casual games, with the Alibaba affiliate partnering with Tiancity.com, an online game operator. Under the agreement, players are now able to buy cards from Tiancity.com through AliPay. Earlier, the two companies also went into an agreement about dealer payments and employee salary payments. Analysts estimate the sales revenue from China's online game publication market as reaching 24.4 billion yuan (US$3.2 billion) by 2011.
ò CDC CorporationÆs subsidiary, announced its signing of a binding term sheet that will allow it to acquire OPTIC, the online games publishing division of CITIC Pacific. With the deal, OPTIC will continue to operate its portfolio of existing games under its own brand. The contract will also allow OPTIC to serve as another platform to launch CDC's series games in coming months that is expected to give more diversity and choice to gamers in China.
ò Shanda announced that it has entered into license and distribution agreements for its in-house developed online games World of Legend and Crazy Kart with Vietnam-based online game operator IT Investment and Development Company (VTC Intecom). Under the agreements, VTC Intecom will have the exclusive rights to operate World of Legend and Crazy Kart in Vietnam for three years. Crazy Kart has reportedly already attracted more than 200,000 registered users. In a separate development, Shanda said it has also entered into two agreements with the Hong Kong-based online game operator CSOFT. Under the agreements, CSOFT will be granted the exclusive rights to operate Magical Land and Crazy Kart in Hong Kong and Macau. Both games are expected to enter closed beta testing at the end of June 2007.
ò China GrenTech announced that it has secured bids from China Mobile and China Telecom to supply TD-SCDMA wireless coverage equipment for the expanded TD-SCDMA technique trial network. Media sources said the expanded TD-SCDMA technique trial networks have been deployed in ten cities in China: networks in eight cities will be constructed by China Mobile Group, while networks in the other two cities will be constructed by China Telecom and China Netcom, respectively.
ò mInfo.com, a privately run Chinese wireless firm, announced its acquisition of Guanxi SMS, an English-language mobile search service in China. The acquisition will give Guanxi a new unified code across all four mobile carriers in China. The company was founded in 2005. Since then, the company said it has extended itself to many life-oriented mobile search services and has expanded geographical coverage to 59 of the largest cities throughout China. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
ò Xingchen Communications announced its plans to initiate its IPO in Hong Kong with the aim of generating some US$100 million for developing 3G services. JP Morgan will be the companyÆs exclusive sponsor for the offering. Xingchen Communications posted a 131 percent rise in its 2006 net profit to 134 million yuan (US$17.5 million) over the same period of the previous year. The company is one of the three main wireless coverage suppliers in the country. The other two domestic wireless coverage system suppliers are Comba Telecom System Holdings and China GrenTech, which have already listed in Hong Kong and NASDAQ, respectively.
ò Ericsson and China Mobile Communications announced the signing of a US$1 billion wireless networking equipment deal. Under the agreement, Ericsson said it will supply core and radio network equipment and technical support/services, with deliveries of equipment started already. China Mobile said it has plans to expand its GSM coverage in 19 regions within China. In a statement, Ericsson said it has invested up to US$2.5 billion in China in 2006 and exported US$1.6 billion worth of products. In a separate deal, Sony Ericsson and China Postel Mobile Comm. announced a mobile phone purchasing agreement estimated to be worth US$600 million.
ò China Netcom and Asia Netcom have jointly announced their signing an agreement to operate landing station in Qingdao. Currently, Asia Netcom's EAC (East Asia Crossing cable system) is linked to China via its Hong Kong landing point, to which the newly operated Qingdao landing station will be complementary. Industry experts see the use of Qingdao, the northernmost landing site for the country as cutting in half the distance between the Chinese main cities and that of Japanese and South Korea.
ò STATS ChipPAC Ltd., a leading independent semiconductor test and advanced packaging service provider, and Ningbo Mingxin Microelectronics Co. Ltd. announced their signing of a definitive agreement for the sale of select manufacturing assets to Mingxin. Under the agreement, STATS ChipPAC will transfer assembly and test assets used to manufacture discrete power packages to Mingxin which is located in Ningbo city, Zhejiang province in China. Mingxin specializes in research, development and manufacturing for a range of power, medium and small signal semiconductors. Ningbo Mingxin Microelectronics Co., Ltd is a joint venture enterprise and important high and new technical enterprise of the national grade in China. Established in 1992, Mingxin specializes in semiconductor researching, developing and manufacturing. STATS ChipPAC Ltd. is a leading service provider of semiconductor packaging design, assembly, testing and distribution solutions. Outside the U.S., it maintains offices in South Korea, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, the Netherlands and UK. STATS ChipPAC's facilities include those of its subsidiary, Winstek Semiconductor Corporation in Taiwan.
ò OMRON Corporation of Japan announced the opening of its OMRON R&D Collaborative Innovation Center, which makes it the companyÆs first major R&D facility outside Japan. The center will house the Omron Institute of Sensing & Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., which focuses on vision sensing and other control technologies that equip machines with near-human levels of judgment. As part of the companyÆs interest to collaborate, the Center will also be open to outside researchers and students working in related fields from Shanghai Jiaotong, Tsinghua, Xi'an Jiaotong, Zhejiang and other Chinese universities as. Omron said around 100 researchers will be working on researches falling under thirty themes. Located in Shanghai Zizhu Science-based Technology Park, the center is valued at around US$9.7 million facility. Omron said its investment in the Chinese market has reached almost 30 billion yen (US$243 million) in three years.
ò According to its filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange, investors of Tyan Computer have approved a merger deal with Mitac International. Mitac, which currently holds a stake in Tyan, will be the surviving company after the merger is completed. Earlier in March, Mitac said the merger is seen as closing in September. Mitac is a major OEM for desktop and GPS devices, which markets its own-brand Mio GPS devices.
ò ChipMOS Technologies, a testing and packaging house, announced that it has secured a syndicated loan agreement worth NT$6 billion (US$181.7 million) with ten Taiwan-based banks. ChipMOS said it will use the fund to support its equipment purchase for 2008 and 2009. The company said it has retained its capex plans of US$200-260 million in 2007 and US$200-250 million in 2008.
ò Media sources said Foxconn International Holdings (FIH), the Hong Kong-listed handset subsidiary of Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry), announced its plans to invest US$1 billion in the next 12 months in a bid to double its production capacity. An official of FIH was quoted as saying that its total production could reach US$20 billion a year when its expansion is fully completed by the end of 2008. In a separate development, Foxconn Electronics said it has filed a complaint, on behalf of its Hong Kong-listed subsidiaries, with the High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region against China-based BYD for illegal use of its intellectual property (IP), making it the second lawsuit that Foxconn has filed against BYD following a similar lawsuit filed in China in the fourth quarter of 2006.
ò TPO Displays announced during a shareholders meeting that it will issue no more than 1 billion shares via private placement, with the fund to be used for its operations and improve the company's financial structure. The company said it looks to generating about NT$5-7 billion (US$151-212 million) in funds through the private placement. In a related development, TPO said it has sold its 2.5G TFT LCD plant at Kobe, Japan to China-based Shenzhen Laibao High-technology (SLC). Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
ò Nokia announced that it has entered into an agreement with PCCW mobile to provide the mobile e-mail platform for the carrierÆs mobile business services for Hong Kong. Called the PUSH eMail, the Nokia Intellisync solution will allow PCCW mobile to offer secure, easy-to-use mobile email to its business and consumer customers under its own brand. Nokia Intellisync Wireless Email provides PCCW mobile with a platform that enables customers to easily access their email, calendar, contacts, notes and task lists on a variety of handheld devices that run on Symbian and Windows Mobile/ Pocket PC operating systems.
ò PCCW announced the launching of its eye multimedia platform, a fixed line that delivers a range of content and interactive services to Hong Kong households over a menu-driven audio and video device. The device has 4.3-inch screen and stereo speakers and can be used to pay bills and buy movie tickets from now ticketing, a tool for home shopping, an encyclopedia from which to retrieve useful everyday information and games. PCCW eye customers can watch sports action from Now Sports and other channels. Eye also carries more than 60,000 song selections from moov.
ò Industry sources indicate that Hutchison Telecom and CAT Telecom of Thailand are close to signing a deal that will consolidate their operations under the Hutch brand. The contract would integrate the CDMA mobile phone network in the 25 central provinces with CAT's new network in the remaining 51 provinces. Industry observers see the deal as a win-win solution for both CAT Telecom and Hutchison in the operation of their 25:75 joint-venture firm, Hutchison-CAT Wireless Multimedia. Under the agreement, the company would lease the consolidated networks under the condition that Hutchison would be awarded the right to market nationwide Hutch service, with CAT retaining the sole right to manage the consolidated network. A source said that the new joint venture's board would include a chief financial officer from Hutchison, an executive from Hutch-CAT, and representatives from legal and financial advisers Baker & McKenzie and Goldman Sachs.
ò According to media sources, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) is in talks with shareholders of Philippine Global Communications Inc. (Philcom) in a bid to acquire the phone company. The same sources said PLDT is also set to conclude a similar deal with another phone company from the Philippine Association of Private Telephone Companies (Paptelco). The acquisition plans are seen by industry analysts as well as company officials as widening the reach of PLDT. Mindanao has been specified as one place that PLDT is expected to bring its presence. The president of Paptelco did confirm that there are indeed talks going on .Earlier, PLDT said it has already entered into a facility management arrangement with Philcom to manage certain aspects of the company in Mindanao. Philcom has outstanding obligation of around 5 billion pesos (US$107.1 million) to PLDT. PLDT said the debt will be considered in the acquisition price.
ò Media sources said Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has stopped Japan's Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) from selling shares in the countryÆs main telephone company as a corruption probe is still going on. The court suspended the proposed sale to Global Telecom Holdings, a unit of Malaysia's Usaha Tegas Sdn. The court also set a new hearing date for Sept. Earlier in May, NTT, which owns a 35.2 percent stake in Sri Lanka Telecom, last month received approval from the Sri Lankan government to sell 25.3 percent to Global Telecom Holdings. NTT then proposed to retain 9.9 percent of Sri Lanka Telecom, with the government agreeing to draft a fresh management contract with the new Malaysian investor. All this halted after a petition was filed in court indicating corruption in the telecom deal.
ò Inquirer.net announced that it has signed an agreement with Yahoo that will enable visitors to post their own video content on the news site. The president of the Philippine-based company said that unlike typical video-sharing services, the companyÆs offering focuses on user-generated content which carry "newsworthy and socially-significant" content. Inquirer.net said it registers daily page views of 1 million to 2 million. Under the agreement, Yahoo will provide the infrastructure for the new service, which will be integrated into the Philippine news site. The official agreement was signed by Yahoo's Singapore office and Inquirer.net representatives in May. The financial details behind the deal were not revealed although the two companies indicated that they have signed the deal looking to a revenue-sharing model.
ò Creative Technology Ltd. said it has renewed plans to delist its shares from the NASDAQ stock exchange, with the company citing administrative overhead and the ôincreasingly burdensome U.S. reporting obligationsö as some of the reasons behind its decision. The company said that even with the delisting, the shares of Creative will continue to be traded on the Singapore stock exchange. Creative makes MP3 players and PC sound boards.
ò Fabless semiconductor company BCT Technology Bhd of Malaysia revealed its plans to penetrate the North Asian market with its power management chips, which are used in LCD screens. The company has already entered the South Korean and Taiwanese market earlier in the second quarter of 2006 and it maintains a presence in China and India. The company said it planned to produce about 10-15 green power solution products every year. For the first financial year ended Dec 31, 2006, the MESDAQ-listed company reported pre-tax profit of 10.3 million ringgits (US$3 million) compared with 6 million ringgits (US$1.7 million) it posted in 2005. The company said its revenue posted a massive 128 percent rise to 46.3 million ringgits (US$13.3 million) from 20.3 million ringgits (US$5.8 million) previously.