Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Nintendo has decided to stop repairing the Famicom because stocks of spare parts are running out, according to a company spokesperson. Famicom is the console that became famous with Super Mario Brothers and Dragon Quest. The family computer, which was sold as the Nintendo Entertainment System in the US and Europe, made its world debut in Japan in 1983 and went on to sell some 62 million units worldwide. The decision to stop providing repair services for the Famicom is seen by industry observers as bringing about the end of the product.
Sony CorpÆs Sony Pictures Entertainment division is looking into the possibility of selling or forging equity partnerships for half of its animation studio and an even larger portion of its digital-effects company. Sources estimate that the outright sale of the animation studio and the digital-effects company could bring in around $500 million. According to other media sources, Sony Pictures has asked investment bank Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin to assess the value of the two divisions.
Casio Computer Co. Ltd has announced plans to launch W-CDMA cell phones in Japan during the six months from October 2008 to March 2009. Casio currently makes CDMA-based phones, which it supplies to JapanÆs KDDI Corp, Verizon Wireless in the US and South Korea's LG Telecom. KDDI has CDMA-based networks, while NTT DoCoMo Inc and Softbank Corp both offer cell phone services based on W-CDMA technology. Casio posted a 40.8% decline in its operating profit to
Ñ13.7 billion ($119.6 million) in April-September from a year earlier. The company said it projects an operating profit of Ñ37.2 billion ($324.2 million) in the current business year.
IP Mobile Inc has given back its mobile broadband license and filed for bankruptcy, according to industry sources. The move is seen by industry observers as the termination of what was supposed to be a new data-based telecom venture. Sources estimated IP's debt at about Ñ900 million ($7.8 million). The company was given a license in 2005 on the condition that it would launch the service within two years. During this period Mori Trust Co came in as IPÆs largest shareholder in a bid to give the company creditworthiness, but the firm continued to show instability. Its efforts to generate fresh funding from new sponsors also failed.
Kyocera Corp, Japan's largest electronics component maker, reported a 7.4% rise in its operating profit to Ñ67.8 billion ($591 million) in the first half to September compared to an operating profit of Ñ63.3 billion ($552 million) a year earlier. Revenue climbed 3.4% to Ñ636.5 billion ($5.5 billion), which the company attributed to the profitability of its cellular phone business at home. However, it's net profit declined 5.4% to Ñ50.6 billion ($441 million).
Citigroup Inc has signed an agreement to acquire all of Nikko Cordial Corp, Japan's third-largest brokerage, paying about $4.6 billion for the 32% it does not already own. Earlier this year, Citigroup, invested about $8 billion to acquire 60% of Nikko. Nikko Cordial is Japan's third largest brokerage and owns more than a quarter of online brokerage Monex Beans. One of the consolidated subsidiaries of Nikko Cordial is Nikko Beans, Inc, which also specialises in online brokerage services.
KT, South Korea's largest fixed-line telephone and Internet provider, has announced expansion plans into central Asia with its acquisition of 51% of the shares in East Telecom, a fixed-line carrier, and a 60% stake in Super-iMax, a wireless broadband service operator. Both are based in Uzbekistan. KT said it plans to offer high-speed Internet services in 12 Uzbek cities from next year through the two Internet infrastructure companies. East Telecom, which is expected to report sales of $11 million in 2007, competes with Uzbektelecom, the country's largest telecoms company. Industry observers note that KT's acquisition of East Telecom and Super-iMax are the first by a South Korean company in Uzbekistan, which is the most populous country in the Central Asian region with 26.5 million people. With only 60,000 Internet users, it offers high growth potential for advanced communications services. For KT, the acquisitions are part of a strategy to enter central Asia's communications market of some 65 million people.
KT has also announced that that it will begin providing high-speed Internet services for passengers who travel between Busan and Osaka on ferries. Observers note that this marks the first time that Internet services will be made available on a ferry traveling between the South Korea and Japan. The speed of the Internet service is comparable to that available in the KoreaÆs rural areas. KT said it is thinking of putting up similar services for other ferries in Korea, China, Russia, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The use of Internet-based banking increased 9.5% in the third quarter from the previous three months, according to the Bank of Korea. South Korea's central bank ascribed the increase primarily to the rising number of people going online to make financial transactions. The report noted that Internet banking transactions reached an average 18.5 million per day in the July-September period, compared with 16.9 million in the second quarter. The data is tracks online banking transactions to check financial records, transfer funds or take out loans. The number of Internet banking subscribers registered with 17 local banks, the state-run Korea Post and HSBC grew 5.8% in the third quarter to 42.5 million by the end of September. The majority of the transactions were conducted via computers. Transactions done via wireless handsets accounted for 3.9% of the total.
KTF Co posted a 36% decline in its third quarter net profit to W62.9 billion ($69.3 million) compared with the profit of W98.1 billion a year earlier and W51.1 billion in the previous quarter. Revenues rose 7% to W1.7 trillion, but operating profits fell 27% percent to W120 billion. South Korea's No. 2 mobile phone operator said the decline was partly due to higher marketing costs. Industry observers are forecasting higher revenues in 2008 from current users aided by diminishing marketing costs as the telecommunications market stabliises. KTF has 32% of South Korea's mobile market and a market value of some $7 billion.
MontaVista Software Inc, a provider of Linux for intelligent devices and communications infrastructure, has acquired full ownership of its joint venture in Seoul. The move is seen as a response by MontaVista to the growing demand from South Korean device manufacturers and software developers for MontaVista embedded Linux software and services. MontaVista Software Korea was formed as a joint venture between MontaVista and other investors. MontaVista also announced that it has named Young-Hoon Yoo as Korea Country Manager. Yoo is the former head of South Korean operations for WebMethods and EMC Documentum and a former manager of telecommunications business development in Asia for Cadence Design Systems.
Samsung Electronics has formed an alliance with Intel and Microsoft (MS) to create what they call a ôOne-Stop Solutionö to provide better management circumstance for local corporate PC clients. The solution is called Troika Solution @ Enterprise and described as the product of a marketing strategy for local corporate clients.
Samsung Electronics has acquired TransChip Israel Ltd, an Israel-based firm that makes image sensors for digital and mobile phone cameras. The acquisition is estimated to be worth some $70 million and is Samsung's first purchase in 10 years. According to its spokesperson, Samsung will change the name of TransChip to Samsung Semiconductor Israel R&D Center, and make it the companyÆ 17th R&D center in the world.
Australia-based investment bank Macquarie Bank is set to buy a 39.4% stake in Hanaro Telecom, South Korea's second-largest broadband service provider, in a ôblock trade,ö according to industry sources. They indicated that the bank will likely enter into an agreement with Hanaro Telecom's largest shareholding group, which is composed of American International Group (AIG), TPG Capital and TVG Capital Partners, to buy 91.4 million shares valued at W12,000 won ($13.2) to W13,000 per share. The reports followed news identifying Macquarie as the preferred negotiator to take over a controlling stake in Hanaro Telecom. There are reports saying Macquarie offered W12,000 a share for the 39.4% stake during the second round of bidding in early. At that price, the AIG-led consortium's total stake will be valued at W1.1 trillion won ($1.2 billion).
Cisco has signed a memorandum of understanding with Alibaba Group to look into ways to jointly offer collaboration and business management solutions to small and medium businesses (SMBs). Under the terms of the MOU, the two companies has agreed to work together in several areas such as: provision of SMB-focused web collaboration services; joint marketing of SMB-focused web-based business applications developed by WebEx and its technology partners; cooperation in expanding Alibaba Group's overseas market; and strategic business development initiatives to enable software-as-a-service capabilities.
Chinese online payment provider 99Bill has entered into a strategic alliance with Perfect World Network, a Chinese gaming company, to jointly promote online game and online payment markets. Under the alliance, 99Bill will provide Perfect World with integrated B2B and B2C payment solutions covering debit cards, credit cards and prepaid refilling cards to all game titles. Industry observers see the newly forged alliance as coming at a time when the country's gaming authority is giving strong support to locally developed games. China's online gaming industry is expected to generate Rmb9.7 billion ($1.3 billion) in revenues this year.
Sohu.comÆs third quarter revenues amounted to $51.5 million, up from $39 million in second quarter, while it thrid quarter net income stood at $9.7 million. The company's advertising revenues rose 11% quarter-on-quarter and 32% year-on-year to $31.5 million. Sohu's non-advertising revenues, which come mainly from online games and wireless value-added services, reached $20 million and contributed 39% of total revenues. Sohu expectes to generate total revenues between $53.5 million and $55.5 million in the fourth quarter 2007.
Facebook and Myspace, which are two of the most popular networking web sites in the US, are looking to China as their main target for global expansion, according to media sources. Facebook hit the news lately after it received a $240 million investment from Microsoft, and is expected to enter the Chinese market this December via a series of acquisitions. Survey firm eMarketer predicts that Facebook will generate $125 million in advertisement income in 2007.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Tianjin Broadcast & TV Network Company has selected NDS VideoGuard conditional access to protect its new digital cable service. With an existing network of more than 2 million analogue subscribers in Tianjin, the company looks to digital technology from NDS to support its Pay-TV business and security needs. Industry observers say the NDS technology will allow Tianjin Broadcast & TV Network to develop an industry leading digital platform capable of securely delivering enhanced, value added services to cable viewers.
China Mobile said it has started consultations with TD mobile phone manufacturers after indicating plans to hold a bidding exercise for TD-SCDMA mobile phones in November. Media sources say China Mobile will spend a total of about Rmb3 billion ($402.3 million) to Rmb4 billion buying about 2 million to 3 million TD mobile phones, which will cover all the three class categories (high-end, middle-end and low-end).
TCL Communication Technology Holdings plans to re-launch Alcatel-branded handsets in the China market before the end of this year, according to a company announcement. With Alcatel-Lucent recently signing a cooperation agreement with RIM (Research in Motion), the upcoming Alcatel-branded handsets will include a Blackberry-enabled model. TCL reported 30% year-on-year growth in its handset shipments to 3.6 million units in the third quarter this year, including 1.2 million units sent to the EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) markets. TCL expects 44% sequential growth in the fourth quarter.
Lenovo Group has reported a 20% year-on-year rise in its consolidated revenues to $4.4 billion in the second fiscal quarter ended September 30, 2007. Lenovo said PC shipments posted a year-on-year growth of 23% for the third consecutive quarter, which is above the industry average growth of 15.7%. Lenovo Greater China posted a 26.5% gain in consolidated revenues to $1.8 billion in second quarter from a year earlier. The China business accounted for 41% of total revenues in the quarter. As of September 30, Lenovo's net cash reserves totaled $1.7 billion.
Suning, a Chinese electronics retailer, has decided to enter into a strategic partnership with Acer that will see the Taiwan-based computer manufacturer bring its products to about 200 Suning stores in Mainland China before the end of this year. Under the alliance, Acer said it will work with Suning to explore China's PC market and added that it aims to sell 150,000 Acer computers through Suning stores next year. Acer has given Suning the exclusive rights to sell Acer's Exttensa series in China.
China Netcom, one of the leading telecommunication service providers in China, as opened a European office in London. China Netcom's senior vice president called the European office "a window for future cooperation" with its European partners. China Netcom already has branches in Hong Kong, the US, Germany and Japan.
High Tech Computer (HTC) and Brightpoint, a distributor of wireless devices, jointly announced their entering an agreement, which will see Brightpoint provide distribution and customised logistics services to HTC on a global basis. The distribution agreement is an extension of a cooperation between the two companies which began at the end of 2006 when Brightpoint started to distribute HTC products in the US and Canada. Brightpoint, together with its Europe-based subsidiary Dangaard Telecom, shipped some 64 million handsets in 2006.
LCD panel maker Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) is planning to enter the thin-film solar energy market through a new subsidiary. The company said the project is expected to get board approval soon. CMO originally planned to enter the crystalline silicon market with rumours indicating that it was near ready to place orders with a European equipment maker. However, that project has now been suspended after CMO completed more research on the market.
Phison Electronics, a controller designer, and LCD panel maker Wintek have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a company that specialises in digital photo frame production. The two companies said they will have even stake in the new entity, which will have an initial capital size of NT$200 million ($6.1 million). Under the partnership, Phison will be the corresponding NAND flash chip and controller supplier while Wintek will supply small- and medium-size panels.
Hong Kong is set to implement the second phase of the Unsolicited Electronic Messages Ordinance (UEMO) and with it the accompanying Unsolicited Electronic Messages Regulation in December this year, industry sources say. According to the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, the second phase of the UEMO will set up rules for sending commercial electronic messages. Under this phase, senders of unsolicited emails are required to provide accurate sender information and a facility for unsubscribing in a message. The regulation also states that senders are not allowed to withhold calling line identification when sending pre-recorded voice messages and fax or to send commercial electronic messages to any telephone/fax numbers listed on a do-not-call register to be established by the Telecommunications Authority. Senders also must honour recipients' unsubscribe requests. Failure to comply with enforcement notices may result in a fine of HK$100,000 ($12,900) on a first conviction and up to HK$500,000 on subsequent convictions.
Hong Kong's CLP Holdings has revealed plans to bid for electricity assets in Australia, India, Singapore and other countries in Southeast Asia, according to media sources. The sources quoted CLP Chief Executive Andrew Brandler saying the company would be interested in the energy assets in New South Wales, which account for about 40% of Australia's electricity market. Brandler has also indicated that CLP and its Japanese partner, Mitsubishi Corp may seek help from financial investors to boost their chances of securing at least one of the three utilities being sold by Singapore's Temasek Holdings.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
Perfect World Co Ltd, a leading online game developer and operator in China, has entered into a new agreement with Indonesian games publisher PT Lyto Datarindo Fortuna to license the Perfect World II game in Indonesia. Perfect World II is a large-scale 3D MMORPG (massively multi-player online roll-playing game) that was first launched in China in November 2006. The game has been licensed to companies in eleven other countries and regions, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Brazil and the Philippines. Lyto Datarindo Fortune said it aims to continue to establish relationships with other game developers to bring bigger and better online entertainment to Indonesia.
VSNL, a leading India-based communications solutions provider, announced that it is proceeding with the construction of the TGN-Intra Asia cable system, which will be constructed by Tyco Telecommunications (US) Inc, an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology and marine services. The TGN-Intra Asia submarine cable is a new four fibre pair cable system linking Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan with an additional connection to the Philippines, and, maybe, Vietnam. The cable is expected to provide up to 3.8 Tbit/s (Terrabits per second) of capacity to the Asia-Pacific market. The TGN-Intra Asia cable, when combined with the Tata Indicom Cable System (TIC) and the TGN-Pacific cable system (both of which are capable of supporting 7+ Tbit/s of traffic), will complete VSNL's multi-Terabit capability from India to Asia and onward to the US.
Following the approval of the firm's application to construct, operate and maintain a digital personal communications network, Bell Telecommunications Philippines Inc, has become the 10th mobile phone operator in the Philippines. The a multilicensed phone firm, also known as BellTel, joins other cellular firms such as Smart Communications Inc, Globe Telecom, Pilipino Telephone Corp and Touch Mobile. BellTel's provisional authority, which is known as a license to operate, is good for 18 months.
Malaysia-based Green Packet Networks (GPN) has signed three new partnerships with Bahrain-based companies in a bid to respond to the market demand for new generation networking solutions based on its Self Organizing Network (SON) technologies, industry sources say. The companies are: Etisalcom, Bahrain Advanced Technology Company (Batec) and Al Muallim. GPN, a wireless broadband technology and next-generation mobile solutions firm, currently has 24 partners in 12 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.