A week in tech

A summary of all the major tech stories in Asia this week broken down by country and sector.

A week in Japan tech

e-Commerce

- NEC is offering a marketing solution that tracks the movement of shoppers in malls to enhance the effectiveness of promotional activities. A wireless tag is distributed to each customer that enters a shopping mall. Signals tracking the shopper's movements that are transmitted to antennas in the mall and are used to create an individual history that includes the amount of time the shopper spent in stores and the routes he or she took.

 

Telecommunications

- NEC is also to launch an IP phone service in December, enabling users to place calls anywhere in Japan for a uniform rate of Y8-9 per three minutes. This will be the first such service to be provided by a manufacturer, though major communications carriers such as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone group firms and KDDI have already announced plans to start such services.

- NTT East to embark on a second round of cost cutting, due to the further deterioration of profitability in its core fixed-line phone service business and the slump in its broadband operations. The regional operator of NTT initially expected an increase in subscribers to fixed-line phone service this fiscal year, but the firm lost as many as 9,000 fixed-line subscribers in the April-June period.

Mobile / Wireless

- KDDI is to begin a voice-enabled Internet search service for users of its cell phone-based Internet service. This will be the first domestic cell phone-based Internet service using voice-recognition technology.

Software

- NEC and NEC Soft to invest $1.5 million in Chinese software developer Sinocom Group. Through the investment in the firm, NEC and NEC Soft plan to accelerate the transfer of software development to China, where labour costs are low. Following the investment, the NEC firms will have a share of no more than 10%.

Internet

- Digital subscriber subscribers rise to 4.22 million as of the end of September from 3.92 million a month earlier, the Ministry of Public Management, Home, Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications said Wednesday. The increase in subscribers reflects the continued steady rise in users of broadband Internet access services as subscribers to DSL services continued to increase by about 300,000 monthly.

- Subscribers to "Yahoo! BB" ADSL service rises to 1.01 million as of the end of September from 885,000 at the end of August. Yahoo! BB became the first ADSL service with more than 1 million subscribers, taking the top 24% share of the DSL market. NTT East had 22% share of the market, while NTT West had a 19% share of the market.

- InfoShower X, or ISX, has developed a service that speeds up the delivery of content over dial-up Internet connections. Although broadband Internet services are spreading in Japan, only about 30% of the country has access to such connections. ISX's service enables the large group that still depends on dial-up to enjoy faster Internet connections.

Semiconductors

- IBM signs up with Japanese companies like Minolta and Sony Computer Entertainment to supply them with technology services. These deals were clinched as part of IBM's efforts to win orders for the development and design of semiconductors and electronic devices. The company aims to offset slumping hardware operations with revenue from such services.

Venture Capital / Investments

- E-Trade Japan will be appointed lead manager for bonds to be issued by Nissin on November 1. This will be the first time an online securities company will act as lead manager for a corporate bond issue. The large Internet brokerage firm will underwrite Y5 billion yen worth of Nissin bonds, for which individual investors will be able to place orders online.

Hardware

- Sony acquires a 6% stake in PalmSource, a U.S. developer of operating systems for PDAs, for $20 million. Sony, which uses the Palm OS for its own PDAs, aims to strengthen ties with the subsidiary of Palm, the world's largest PDA producer. PalmSource holds 60-70% of the global market for PDA Oss, but the firm is seeing slowing demand as well as intense competition from Microsoft.

- Fujitsu and Siemens to integrate their personal computer and server operations. The move would create the world's fourth largest PC group, with annual shipments of about 6 million units and sales of just over Y1 trillion, following third-ranked IBM of the U.S.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- SGI Japan develops an ADSL video-streaming system that lets users watch television shows and access video-on-demand services via ordinary phone lines. The ADSL streaming system digitizes and compresses satellite and other broadcast programming and sends it over the Internet. The digitized and compressed data is received via an ADSL router by a special set-top box connected to a TV.

A week in Korea tech

Telecommunications

- Domestic telemarketing service market is expected to top W6.35 trillion this year, nearly double the W3.73 trillion ast year. The market will grow by at least 20% annually to W8 trillion next year and W15 trillion by 2007, according to the Korea Telemarketing Association, an industry council for local telemarketing companies.

Mobile / Wireless

- The nation's mobile phone population could number 45 million over the next five years despite current concerns of market saturation. Research jointly conducted by the three mobile phone carriers indicates the number of wireless population would at least rise by an annual compound growth rate of 6%.

- SK Telecom is expected to report a record third-quarter net profit, boosted by a merger in January, lower marketing costs and growing revenues from wireless data services, analysts said. SK is to announce its third-quarter results on October 18.

Software

- Haansoft forges a strategic alliance with Nexsoft to jointly promote their office productivity suite in a bid to fight back its share from market leader Microsoft. Under the deal, Haansoft's word processor and Nexsoft's spreadsheet program, Nexcel, will be combined for a new office productivity suite that can compete with Microsoft Office.

- Secure Soft establishes a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo. Secure Soft Japan will conduct marketing, studies on local market trends and product planning as well as after-sales services of its exports to the country. The Japanese operation targets $12 million in sales next year and 25 billion won for 2004.

Internet

- Internet start-ups lower their revenue expectations for 2002, after failing to develop new revenue streams. For the first half of 2002, Daum reported lower-than-expected financial results, posting W4.2 billion in operating profits on sales of W91.1 billion. Freechal trimmed its revenue target for this year to W25-30 billion, from an initial expectation of W51.9 billion. Neowiz shed its 2002 revenue target to W38 billion from W43.7 billion it predicted early this year.

Venture Capital / Investments

- Foreigners invested $1.59 billion in the electronics industry last year for a total of 179 cases, according to the Electronic Industries Association of Korea. The number of cases of foreign investment dropped 24.7% from 238 in 2000, and the investment amount was down 33.8% from $2.41 billion in 2000.

A week in China tech

Telecommunications

- China Telecom has been advised by its bankers to increase its dividend payout to one-third of its profits to lure investors worried by the woeful market for telecoms stocks. Bankers involved in the share sale are discussing the proposal with the fixed-line phone giant, which had originally planned to pay 20% of its profits as a dividend.

Mobile / Wireless

- China United Telecommunications A shares make a weak debut in Shanghai. Investors had placed high hopes on China United, expecting its shares to surge as much as 80% on debut, but the counter ended up with a 24.78% advance from its 2.3-yuan issue price. The shares traded at 2.86 yuan to 3.15 yuan on its debut, against market expectations of three yuan to four yuan.

Information Technology

- Viruses infect at least 80% of China's computers, highlighting the vulnerability of one of the world's biggest PC and Internet markets, according to a survey conducted by the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Centre. "Only 16% of computer users we sampled this year reported they were free from any virus attack,รถ said the centre's chief engineer, Zhang Jian.

A week in Taiwan tech

Semiconductors

- UMC wins a ruling against Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) by the U.S. International Trade Commission. SiS will be barred from selling products made with a disputed production process to the United States if the ITC decision stands after a 60-day presidential review of the ruling. UMC alleges that SiS manufactured products using a patented UMC process

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech

Semiconductors

- Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing raises millions of dollars in a share sale but at a painful price for its investors and lead underwriter. The world's third-largest contract microchip maker hit a new low after most investors shunned its $633 million rights issue, with the shares trading below the S$1 rights price for much of its offer period.

Information Technology

- Shares of Datacraft Asia surge nearly 10%, recovering further from a recent selldown on renewed talk the region's largest network integrator could be taken private by its South African parent. But Dimension Data, its parent, said it had no plans to buy out minority shareholders now.

A week in Hong Kong tech

Telecommunications

- PCCW shares fall below $1 for the first time. The telecoms company, controlled by Richard Li Tzar-kai, closed at 99 cents, off a low of 97 cents for the day, and has now fallen 96% from its closing high of $25.40 on February 18, 2000. PCCW is the worst-performing Hang Seng Index stock in the year to date, having fallen 53.95%.

Mobile / Wireless

- Hutchison Whampoa unveils brand identity for its multi-billion-dollar 3G mobile service in worldwide markets. The port to telecommunications conglomerate has picked a simple number 3 as the brand name to save the trouble of translation. The same brand name will be used in all nine markets where Hutchison will launch 3G services, beginning in Britain and Italy by the end of the year.

- Mobile operator Peoples Telephone posts a HK$160 million net profit for the first nine months of the year. Peoples, which began to make a profit last October, did not provide previous corresponding nine-month data for comparison. At the beginning of the year the carrier forecast a full-year profit of more than HK$140 million.

Software

- The number of jobs in Hong Kong's software industry has fallen by 22.2% in just two years as software developers relocate to the mainland, a study by the Hong Kong Productivity Council shows. The survey of 166 independent software vendors showed an increasing number of local software developers are turning to the mainland to open branch offices.

Semiconductors

- Shougang Concord Technology and U.S.-based Artech choose Hong Kong as the site for a $80 million semiconductor venture. Shougang Concord chose Hong Kong ahead of rivals Shanghai and Shenzhen, which have offered incentives such as tax concessions to attract hi-tech investment.

Information Technology

- DigiTel is in talks to raise HK$30 million from investors in a last-ditch bid to survive. The GEM-listed systems integrator said it was negotiating with an independent third party which might provide HK$5 million for working capital. DigiTel, which listed 27 months ago, has only HK$730,000 in cash but faces more than HK$28.67 million in claims from suppliers and vendors.

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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