Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò Nintendo revealed its plans to offer support services in the form of Internet link to its popular Wii game console. According to Nintendo president, a network connection will allow clients to download games and information and also play with others online. The provision of support is expected to up the popularity if Wii and increase sales of both consoles and software. Nintendo said it will work with NTT Corp. to arrange support for helping people connect their Wiis to the Internet and set up a telephone service for technical support.
ò Sony Corp. announced that it has formed a U.S. advertising division that will place ads within PlayStation games. The new unit is expected to boost revenue at SonyÆs console division.
ò NTT DoCoMo Inc. and broadband service provider Acca Networks Co. announced their move to join 14 other firms to launch next-generation high-speed mobile communications services. Together with the move, Acca Wireless Co., an Acca Networks subsidiary, submitted a license application to the communications ministry for the planned next-generation services under the WiMAX format. Acca Wireless, fully owned by Acca Networks, disclosed its plans to up its capital to 30 billion yen ($255 million) from the current 300 million yen (US$2.5 million) through new share issuance for allotment to the parent, NTT DoCoMo and the 14 new partners. Eleven of the 14 partners will hold a combined 12 percent of Acca Wireless. They are Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc., Mitsui & Co., Itec Hankyu Hanshin Co., Keihin Electric Express Railway Co., KT Corp. of South Korea, Asahi Net Inc., NEC Biglobe Ltd., So-net Entertainment Corp., Nifty Corp., FreeBit Co., and YRP Business Development Institute Inc. The remaining 15 percent will be owned by JPMorgan Securities Japan Co. and investment funds Ignite Group Inc. and DCM. Acca Wireless plans to raise its capital eventually to 72 billion yen ($612.1 million).
ò According to the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA), mobile phone shipments in Japan has climbed 39.1 percent to hit a total of 4.2 million units in August. The industry group attributed greatly the rise in the shipments to a surge in the number of handsets able to receive digital terrestrial television broadcasts. The report said that shipments of 3G handsets climbed 50.7 percent on year to 4 million units, compared to shipments of 2G handsets went down 93 pct to 17,000 units. Shipments of handsets for personal handy phone system (PHS) services posted a 44.7 percent growth to 217,000 units, posting the fourth straight year-on-year growth.
ò Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Kyocera Corp. announced that their reaching an agreement on the transfer of Sanyo's mobile phone business to Kyocera. With Kyocera given priority negotiation rights, Sanyo said it will continue further negotiations with the company toward a final agreement. The report said the transfer will cover Sanyo's wireless communication system business including mobile phone handset, PHS handset, PHS base station and WiMAX base station businesses, which reported aggregated consolidated sales of about 277 billion yen (US$2.3 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 2007. Sanyo developed mobile phones in Japan and mass-produced them primarily at its plants dispersed in countries such as China and Malaysia, with sales subsidiaries in Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, and the US.
ò Three South Korean companies û Samsung Electronics, ST Telecom and KTF û announced their move to set up a joint project called Cellphone Music Try & Buy. Under the project, the group will release a new WCDMA phone equipped with tailored selective functions while downloading music, allowing phone users to download preferred music files after listening to demos.
ò NTT DoCoMo Inc. announced its decision to jointly establish a venture fund valued at 30 billion won ($32.7 million) with KT Freetel Co., a South Korean mobile phone firm. The companies said the fund will be used to invest in mobile and information technology firms in South Korea. Under the agreement, NTT DoCoMo and its partner, KT Freetel Co., will each invest 13.5 billion won ($14.7 million) in the fund, for respective stakes of 45 percent. The remaining 3 billion won ($3.2 million) will be put up by KTBnetwork Co., a South Korean investment firm, which will get the remaining 10 percent stake. KTBnetwork will manage the fund to be named the KTF-NTT DoCoMo Mobile Investment Limited Partnership.
ò According to the countryÆs Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), their researchers have developed a 4G mobile communications technology that allows an increased transmission rate of 3.6 gigabits per second (gbps). ETRI said that once the technology is commercialized, users will be able to view high-definition video in real time anywhere on a wireless network. Commercialization of the technology is expected to take place in 2012.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò NETTS Corporation announced that it has entered into a publishing agreement with Nineyou International for the development of the marine fantasy MMORPG, Florensia, for the China market. Currently Nineyou offers online game Audition with 110 million and 800,000 concurrent users. Other offerings for the Chinese market include Korean casual games like Extreme Soccer and Raycity, and MMORPGs like Fantasy Journey Online and Chinese Paladin Online. NETTS Corporation was set up as the headquarters of the NETTS Group in August of 2005, with a strategy based on the development prowess of their Korean subsidiary NetTimeSoft. The companyÆs future plans include beta testing of online games in Japan as well marketing and other services, together with the sales and management of online game licenses for global markets including those in Asia and the West. Closed beta testing of Florensia for the Japanese market was completed in September of 2007, with open beta testing beginning in October of 2007. Official game services are expected to go live online in Japan in December of 2007.
ò According to industry sources, Samsung SDI has initiated the mass-production of a next-generation display screen using active-matrix light-emitting diodes (AMOLED), beating other companies that have been working to mass produce it. AMOLED is clearer than the LCD or PDP formats currently used for display screens to a point where the display screen remains clear even under direct sunlight. The other companies readying to produce AMOLED screens include LG Philips LCD, Sony and Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology (TMD). The size of the AMOLED market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion by 2011.
ò LG Electronics announced its decision to outsource significant portion of the digital TVs it has been producing at home. Except for domestic consumption, LG has been making most of its digital TVs overseas, with the company citing lower labor costs as a factor. LG Electronics said that it has recently concluded a contract with a TV firm in Taiwan to produce 500,000 LCD TVs per year targeting the U.S. market. The TVs will be sold in the U.S. under the name Zenith, an American brand LG has acquired a few years ago. LG recently initiated contacts with two firms in Taiwan to outsource some of its 10-20 inch LCD TVs that will be sold under its own name. LG Electronics has produced about five million LCD and PDP TVs in its four overseas factories in China, Poland and Mexico. Samsung on the other hand disclosed that it has no plans to outsource its digital TV production at present.
ò Philips announced that it has sold a 13 percent stake in LG.Philips LCD (LPL). The deal, which was in the form of a block trade, was valued at 2 trillion won ($2.1 billion). The company said the deal has diminished PhilipÆs holdings in LPL to 19.9 percent. Industry observers note that Philips is unlikely to sell any more of its stake before the end of the year. Citi Group and Credit Suisse Group were the joint book runners of the deal. A Philips spokesperson said that the Dutch company did not rule out the possibility that some of the remaining shares would be sold to strategic investors. LPL, the world's second-largest LCD manufacturer, reported turning in a profit in the third quarter of this year, posting net profit of 524 billion won ($570.4 million) during the three months ending Sept. 30, a turnaround from a loss of 595 billion won ($648.6 million) it has reported a year earlier. Its sales went up 42.6 percent to a quarterly high of 3.9 trillion won ($4.2 billion), with its operating profit hitting 693 billion won ($755.4 million), compared with a 382 billion won (US$416.4 million) loss a year earlier. The CEO of LPL disclosed that the company will make an additional investment of 2.5 trillion won ($2.7 billion) in constructing an eighth-generation facility for LCD.
ò Industry sources said that a 35 million-dollar credit to fund called the "Governmental Telecommunications Network" project was granted in Angola by South Korea. The South Korean government said the fund was aimed at addressing the existing digital difficulties among Angola and other countries. Angola and South Korea have signed in 1993 a General Accord of Economic, Technical and Scientific Cooperation. The two governments are currently negotiating a project of the Agreement of Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments.
ò According to a company spokesperson, SK Telecom has placed a bid for a stake in an unidentified Pakistani telecommunications company. The spokesperson explained that the SK Telecom is ôactively seeking to business partnerships or acquire a stake in telcos in Asia. The source said that the company is waiting for the reply to the bid it has made.
ò According to a key official of Baidu, the company is gearing to set up an R&D centre in Shanghai. To prepare for the opening of the center, Baidu is reportedly organizing a massive recruitment involving 25 universities in 15 cities across the country. Industry sources also indicate that Baidu is preparing to set up an R&D center in Tokyo.
ò Alibaba.com announced that it has opened its first European office in Geneva. Industry observers see Alibaba providing services to European SMEs from the strategic location in the Swiss capital. Founded in 1999, Alibaba.com, the flagship business of the Alibaba Group based in eastern China, has built a global community of more than 24 million members from over 200 countries and regions. SMEs are the leading economic engine across the globe, with some 19 million SMEs in Europe alone. European SME's make up 99.7 percent of the total number of companies, and are the principal source of employment and wealth in the European Union.
ò Industry sources indicate that Tom Group has plans to focus on its online games as its strategy for growth and development. Sources said that Tom is planning to make an investment of 200 million yuan ($26.6 million) in order to develop games.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
ò CDC Games, a business unit of CDC Corp., announced that it has entered into an agreement with Sonokong, a leading South Korean toy and game entertainment company, to expand their business partnership. The expanded partnership includes the licensing, in China of a new game called Dragonsky and covers SonokongÆs commitment for the continued support of content updates for Shaiya Online. Under the agreement, CDC Games and Sonokong become partners in the distribution of Shaiya in Taiwan through MacroWell, a local publisher. Dragonsky is now under development by Sonov, a leading studio in South Korea. Dragonsky is an MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game) based on a Chinese martial arts theme set in medieval times. The game will be operated by the OPTIC division of CDC Games. Founded in 1999 as a PC game distributor, MacroWell established OMG entertainment portal in mid 2006 and became the third-largest online game company in Taiwan. Currently OMG has more than 1.5 million active users and plans to be listed on TAISDAQ in 2009.
ò According industry sources, to Object Soft, an online game developer, will license its upcoming MMORPG to Tom Online for operation in China. Founded in 1995, Object Soft has developed and operated numerous MMORPGs in China. The sources explained that Object SoftÆs alliance with Tom Online is meant to help Object Soft focus on development instead of game operations and management.
ò ZTE announced that it has secured some 85 percent of new nodes for the seventh expansion of China Mobile's Multimedia Messaging Service, with the company getting another 75 percent of new nodes when China Mobile goes into its WAP expansion. With the contract, ZTE is now one of the core partners of China Mobile on value-added services. Previously, ZTE also won the bidding of China Mobile's MMS web and related products.
ò Bird, a Chinese mobile phone manufacturer, reported a massive loss its net profit in the first half of this year registering a decline of 859.2 percent, with a total loss of 237 million yuan ($31.5 million) compared with that of the same period last year. The company ascribed the huge losses to many factors, including intense market competition and ongoing price wars. To cope with the loss and in an attempt to reduce costs, Bird said it will sell stakes in three of its affiliates. The sale will cover Ningbo Sagem Bird Development and Research Company, a joint venture company between Bird and French Sagem, in a deal valued at about 25 million yuan ($3.3 million). Bird said it will transfer 24 percent of its stake at Chongqing Bird. The company said it will also sell 73 percent of the stake of Chongqing Bird Information to an unnamed individual in a deal placed at 3 million yuan ($399,520).
ò Qualcomm announced that it has granted TechFaith Wireless a worldwide license under Qualcomm's patent portfolio to develop, manufacture and sell subscriber units and modem cards implementing the WCDMA and TD-SCDMA standards. The license given to TechFaith Wireless, a wholly owned subsidiary of China TechFaith, carries royalties payable by TechFaith at QualcommÆs standard worldwide rates.
ò China Netcom announced its entering an agreement with Australian telecom service provider Telstra on the transmission of telecommunications services between China and Australia for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Under the cooperation agreement, the two companies will work together to provide services to Australian television Channel 7 and allow Olympics television signals to the Oceania region.
ò PacificNet announced that its subsidiary PacificNet Epro has been selected by Jiangsu Telecom, China Telecom's local branch, to provide CRM and call center consulting services for China Telecom's 114 Information Directory. Under agreement, PacificNet Epro will be tasked with strengthening the CRM service level and telemarketing management capability of Jiangsu Telecom's Information Directory Service called 114 Information Directory Hotline.
ò Duty Free Americas Macau Limited (DFAM) announced that it has selected Samco Software Inc. to supply their IT needs, which include hardware, software, training and support for their new retail project in Macau, SAR China. Under the agreement, Samco is expected to deliver an integrated, end to end solution consisting of servers, workstations and POS terminals with the Samco Power accounting applications including purchasing, WMS, POS GL/accounting, e-mail and general office applications. Linux was selected for the OS for security and cost reasons.
ò Flash memory firm SanDisk Corporation has announced the opening of its production facility in Shanghai. The new plant will be producing System-in-a-Package, a flash memory-based chip package used in mobile phones. The facility called SanDisk Semiconductor (Shanghai) Company is seen as boosting SanDisk's worldwide operations as the plant will focus on the assembly and test of its advanced flash memory products for mobile and other consumers in markets worldwide. SanDisk's worldwide operations function will also reside at the Shanghai facility.
ò There are speculations that Micron plans to spin off its CMOS image sensor (CIS) business and form an independent company. The rumors also note that private equity firm the Blackstone Group will invest in the new independent company even with Micron expected to retain control. Sources said the spin-off is expected to be finalized by the end of 2007 at the earliest. Following the spin off, Micron will focus more on DRAM and NAND flash production. The decision is reportedly backed by Micron's shareholders. Sources also indicate that Micron may use the new funds from the private equity to expand its capacity for 12-inch plants.
ò EDIMAX, a Taiwan based designer, developer and manufacturer of networking solutions announced that it is offering new connectivity products that are 30 percent cost-efficient than what the competition offers. The company said it aims to address the complex networking environment by simplifying the whole connectivity equation for the 14 million Internet users who demand fast web connectivity. EDIMAX said it is introducing affordable products.
ò Chunghwa Telecom, the largest telecommunications operator in Taiwan, announced that it has awarded a 3G network expansion and services contract to Nokia Siemens Networks. The contract is expected to enable Nokia to provide enhanced, industry-leading 3G and HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) services to subscribers and reduce associated operational costs. The project is also seen as expanding Chunghwa TelecomÆs 3G network coverage and boosting the high speed Internet access by using 3.6/7.2/10.7 Mbps HSDPA service. Under the terms of the agreement, Nokia Siemens Networks will supply a total solution for Chunghwa including turnkey network implementation and system integration, consulting and competence development services for Chunghwa TelecomÆs staff as well as software maintenance and hardware repair services to assure network quality and availability.
ò Motorola announced that it has secured contracts to supply WiMax wireless broadband networking equipment to Far EasTone, which has in turn won the WiMax license for Taiwan. Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. Ltd., one of the largest mobile phone service operators in Taiwan with 6.4 million subscribers, tapped Motorola to supply WiMax networking gear. Far EasTone won a license to build a WiMax network in southern Taiwan. It was the only one of the island's major phone service providers to win one of the licenses, beating mobile phone service competitors, Chunghwa Telecom and Taiwan Mobile Co. Ltd. Far EasTone plans to roll out its WiMax network in two phases, with the first phase to be completed by December 2007, and the second to be finished early in 2008. Taiwan remains one of the most avid promoters of WiMax outside of the U.S. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Motorola said that competition for the contracts was intense.
ò Taiwan Mobile announced that it is shelling up to US$5.3 million for Hurray Times Communications Beijing, a developer of digital mobile content owned by Hurray Holding Co Ltd. The deal is waiting for approval from Chinese and Taiwanese regulators. According to Taiwan MobileÆs spokesperson, the company already holds a 5 percent stake in the parent company, Hurray Holding.
ò Industry sources indicated that Hutchison Whampoa will sell shares in its Australian mobile phone unit. Under the plan, Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) Ltd will issue about HK$2.3 billion (US$296.6 million) worth of securities to Telecom Corp of New Zealand. Following the transaction, Telecom Corp will own 10 percent of Hutchison's Australian unit. The agreement will also allow Telecom Corp to up its stake in Hutchison Australia to 19.9 percent. Hutchison Whampoa holds a 52.8 percent stake in Hutchison Telecommunications.
ò EQO Communications announced the availability of its mobile Internet phone services in Hong Kong, a development that industry observers see as leading to inexpensive mobile calls to and from Hong Kong. With the service, Hong Kong residents can now save up to 95 percent on international calls and up to 70 percent on text messages. The service will also allow clients to make international calls without the use of PC, as EQO users can call and text other online EQO users in 31 countries for free, aside from being able to use free chat on MSN.
ò According to data from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA), Hong Kong has installed more than 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots at around 3,000 locations in the territory, making it a world leader in the area of public Wi-Fi service. Industry observers note that what makes the Hong Kong service unique is that it is entirely supported by the commercial sector. In other places, the model is to have public Wi-Fi service funded by either the public or through cooperation with the government sector.
ò Ember, a provider of ZigBee networks for more energy-efficient buildings and homes, and Computime announced their alliance to offer OEMs a fast, easy and affordable way to bring ZigBee products to market. ZigBee is a global wireless industry standard designed for remote monitoring, control and sensor networks. Computime is a Hong Kong-based electronic controls company that has developed a family of low-cost plug-and-play ZigBee modules based on Ember's EM250 and EM260 chipsets and EmberZNet ZigBee software. The Computime CT-EM250 and CT-EM260 RF Transceiver Modules are low-power modules designed to embed wireless mesh networking capabilities into products for building and home automation, security and lighting controls, home appliance and alarms, remote monitoring and automatic meter reading applications. Under the partnership, Computime will also offer fully developed, plug-and-play home automation and automatic metering products for consumers based on Ember's ZigBee technology in the future.
ò Nam Tai Electronics, Inc. announced that it plans to reorganize the group structure of its subsidiaries, a reorganization that is seen as avoiding the probable cash outlay of approximately $120 million to $150 million which would have been required to privatize the Hong Kong Stock Exchange-listed subsidiaries. The company believes that through the successful completion of the proposed reorganization it can achieve a more simplified group structure. Nam Tai said it would receive approximately $38.5 million in cash and interest income from the convertible bond to be issued by Nam Tai Electronic & Electrical Products Limited (NTEEP). The proposed reorganization requires a series of transactions, involving capital shares and asset transfers among Nam Tai, NTEEP, J.I.C. Technology Company Limited (J.I.C.) and Zastron Precision Tech Limited and other subsidiaries. The reorganization proposal has been approved by the board of directors of Nam Tai, NTEEP and J.I.C. and requires approval of majority of the public- float shares of NTEEP and J.I.C. Nam Tai has two Hong Kong-listed subsidiaries, Nam Tai Electronic & Electrical Products Limited and J.I.C. Technology Company Limited.
ò Pacific Internet Limited announced that PacNet Board member and CFO of Asia Netcom, Mr. Brett Lay was appointed as Chief Financial Officer for PacNet. His appointment follows the stepping down of current PacNet CFO, Mr. Ho Tuck Chuen. Prior to his role as CFO of Asia Netcom, Mr. Lay was an independent financial advisor who specialized in asset valuations, capital structures, mergers and acquisitions. Pacific Internet Limited or PacNet has direct presence in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia, India, Thailand and Malaysia.
ò The National Telecommunications Commission of the Philippines (NTC) reminded firms with license to operate the 3G frequency bandwidth to meet the deadline to use the frequencies. Of the four licensed 3G operators, only Digitel Mobile Philippines Inc. and Connectivity Unlimited Resources Enterprise Inc. have yet to commercially launch their service. Smart, Globe, Digitel and Connectivity Unlimited were issued 3G permits by the NTC in January 2006. The 3G network coverage of Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom now spans more than 200 cities and towns nationwide while the other two 3G firms are still in the process of rolling out their cellular sites.