A week in tech; part 1

The latest tech news from Japan and Korea.

A week in Japan tech

· NTT to pour resources into high-speed Internet services. The former national telephone monopoly is looking to the new data services to make up for dwindling revenue from its traditional phone business. NTT forecast that in three years its operating income would grow to ¥1.6 trillion ($13.33 billion) from an estimated ¥1.3 trillion in the fiscal year ended March 31.
· KDDI to raise its annual per share dividend to Y2,095 from the previously planned Y1,790 for the fiscal year ended March 31. The company said the decision follows the successful completion of the business consolidation resulting from its merger about two years ago with DDI and IDO.

Mobile / Wireless
· NTT DoCoMo to transfer 3G cell phone technology enabling teleconferencing and other high-speed functions to major cell phone firms in Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore Telecommunications Pte. and Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telephone Co. are set to launch their respective 3G services next year.

· Sony to invest about ¥200 billion ($1.67 billion) in advanced microchip-production facilities over the next three years. The move comes as chips are increasingly finding their way into game consoles and consumer electronics, which Sony makes, and the Japanese consumer-electronics giant shifts away from dependence on partners that make components for its products.

· Toshiba's return to net profitability for the fiscal year is helped by brisk demand for semiconductors and notebook computers as well as major restructuring efforts. The Japanese electronics maker posted a group net profit of ¥18.50 billion ($154 million) for the ended March 31, a huge turnaround from its loss of ¥254.02 billion the previous year.
· Fujitsu post second consecutive annual loss and announced a management shake-up as it continues its restructuring efforts. The Japanese computer giant posted a group net loss of ¥122.07 billion ($1.01 billion) for the latest fiscal year, following its worst-ever loss of ¥382.5 billion for the prior year, as heavy restructuring costs cut into earnings.
· Sony profits are way below earlier targets for the year ended March 31. It also forecast more declines in the current fiscal year. The world's largest consumer-electronics maker said weak demand for staple products like television sets and Vaio personal computers led to a 12% sales drop in the January-March quarter from a year earlier.
· NEC report narrower loss for the latest fiscal year but failed to return to a profit. Japan's largest maker of personal computers, mobile phones and telecommunications equipment posted a net loss of ¥24.56 billion ($204 million) for the fiscal year just ended, after the company was forced to book hefty stock-valuation losses. NEC posted a net loss of ¥312 billion for the prior fiscal year.
· PC shipments from major Japanese manufacturers totaled Y1.61 trillion in fiscal 2002, down 9% on the year, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association (JEITA) reported. The amount is the lowest since the start of the survey in fiscal 1996. The shipment volume declined 8% to 9.84 million machines, slipping below 10 million units for the first time in three years.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming
· Sky Perfect Communications aims to eliminate Y123.8 billion in accumulated losses by March 2008 by reducing its capital from Y139.5 billion to Y50 billion and tapping surplus capital. By cleaning up accumulated losses, the firm aims to improve its financial standing to pay out dividends on an ongoing basis.


A week in Korea tech

Mobile / Wireless
· Ministry of Information and Communication expected to allow handset subsidy for select mobile phone models, but the revised rules will be equally applied -- a move that might spark protests from minor players. Sources said mobile handset subsidies would be allowed for outdated models and next-generation products in order to help carriers dispose of mounting inventory and nurture new technologies.

· Overture Korea launches "pay-for-performance" service in a bid to repeat the success of its parent firm Overture Services of the United States. Pay-for-performance, or P4P, hinges on the concept of a search engine whose results are ranked based on a bidding system by keyword. The highest bidder on a keyword, in other words, gets the No. 1 spot when a user searches for that keyword.
· Daum Communications revenue for the first three months ended March 31 more than doubles, helped by robust sales from online advertising. Daum first-quarter revenue reached W28.2 billion, up 120% from W12.8 billion in the year-earlier period. Its first-quarter operating profit stood at W8.4 billion, up 375% from W1.78 billion a year earlier.
· European Commission proposes imposing 33% tax duties on Hynix memory chips. The preliminary decision could affect millions of dollars in chip exports and deal another heavy blow to the world's third-largest memory-chip maker, which already is suffering from consecutive years of losses and heavy debt.


A week in tech is brought to you by FinanceAsia, and IRG, Asia's boutique investment bank to the telecoms, media and tech sectors. More can be found at:

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