- Livedoor posted an estimated 150 percent growth in its group pretax profit for the fiscal year ended September 30 from a year earlier to 12.5 billion yen ($109.7 million). The figure was said to have been boosted by sales of shareholdings and stronger advertising revenue at its portal-related businesses. The sales of the company are said to have gone up 150 percent to about 80 billion yen ($702.5 million). Livedoor Securities is seen as contributing hugely to group earnings. The company sold a part of its shareholdings in Turbolinux for a capital gain of 795 million yen ($7 million). It also sold part of its stake in Livedoor Marketing and got some 2 billion yen ($17.5 million) in proceeds.
- Ikyu Corp, a hotel reservation web site operator, said it expects to announce a 69 percent rise in its parent-only operating profit to 570 million yen ($5 million) for the half ended Sept. 30. The number of accommodations booked through the Ikyu site during the half-year was about 560,000, which is an increase of about 60 percent from the year-earlier period. The company said its sales are estimated at about 920 million yen ($8 million), a 58 percent increase on the year, while its pretax profit is expected to reach 560 million yen ($4.9 million), a 66 percent increase. For the full year ending March, Ikyu expects to register a 65 percent rise in its pretax profit to 1.2 billion yen ($10.5 million). It forecasts a 53 percent growth in its sales to 1.9 billion yen ($16.6 million).
Media, Gaming and Entertainment
- Nintendo disclosed that it is posting a higher estimate for its group net profit for its fiscal first half, a decision the company ascribes to the exchange rate favouring the yen. The company said it now expects a group net profit of 36 billion yen ($316.1 million) for the first half ended September 30, an increase from its previous forecast of 19 billion yen ($166.8 million). The company, however, expects a lower first-half group sales of 175 billion yen ($1.5 billion), compared with 190 billion yen ($1.6 billion) in its previous forecast. Nintendo explains the diminishing figure to what it announced as weaker-than expected sales of its Nintendo GameCube game consoles and computer game software for the console in North America. Nintendo said it will use 33 percent of its annual group operating profit to pay dividends for this fiscal year.
- NTT DoCoMo announced the launching of four new FOMA 3G mobile phone handsets. The new products incorporate a phone with enhanced music functions. Its simplified phone featuring easy operation is expected to attract senior citizens. NTT DoCoMo said its new Music Porter X is able to receive music and voice programming offered by Mobile Broadcasting Corp and has FM radio functions. It also launched the Music Porter II. Both phones are made by Mitsubishi Electric Corp. A handset made primarily for voice communication, and manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric, was also introduced by NTT DoCoMo. Its new prosolid II is made by Panasonic Mobile Communications Co.
- Teikoku Tsushin Kogyo announced the investing of about $5 million to open a digital electronic equipment components plant in Vietnam. The company disclosed its acquisition of some 30,000 sq. m. of land at Hoa Lac High Tech Park, near Hanoi, and said it will set up a wholly owned subsidiary there. The plant will manufacture switches for digital cameras, cell phones and Integrated Control Blocks (ICBs), which are custom-made integrated circuit modules. At present, the company assembles ICBs at seven locations in China, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia. The output of the plant will be supplied to Japanese manufacturers with operations in China and Thailand.
- NTT Data Corp announced its partnership with Oracle Corp Japan, which is aimed at developing credit risk management system for regional banks. These banks are those banks that calculate risk ahead of future changes in the Bank for International Settlements' capital ratio requirements. Already, 12 financial institutions that include the Bank of Yokohama and Hokuhoku Financial Group Inc. have signified to adopt the system. NTT Data is targeting about 30 regional banks to adopt its system by next fiscal year. NTT Data's system is compatible with the Regional Banks Association of Japan's financial database.
- The Japanese government through its Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications disclosed its plan to switch some government computers to the free Linux operating system. An official said the decision is not meant to exclude particular software or to endorse a particular one. The move simply recognizes the recent development of open-source software as reliable systems. Earlier this year, Japan, China and South Korea agreed to jointly develop a new computer operating system based on Linux as an alternative to Windows of Microsoft.
- Pushed by huge shipments of semiconductors and mobile phones, the overall export volume of IT goods from South Korea went up by 11.6 percent from the same period last year to $6.9 billion, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication. With an import of $3.9 billion, the country's trade sector posted a surplus of $2.9 billion. Amidst this good performance, an official cautioned about falling profit margins of local IT companies brought about by competition that is largely coming from China. Analysts call the attention of manufacturers to the unbalanced performance in the sector that is reflected in the massive exports of chips and mobile phones compared to the faltering digital television sales. In September, South Korea exported IT products valued at $2.3 billion to China, a 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year.
- Daesung Group, a Korean conglomerate with special interest in the energy industry announced its signing of a preliminary agreement to purchase the internet portal company Korea.com. Daesung is expected to reach a formal deal after it finishes conducting a due diligence audit.
- Nokia disclosed that it is diversifying in South Korea by selling internet security equipment to small and medium-sized businesses. Nokia Korea, in cooperation with Israel-based software provider Check Point, said it will launch a joint marketing campaign for its IP260 products, equipments designed to protect personal data from hacking attempts. The company said this move is facing several problems. Nokia is known only as a mobile phone maker in South Korea and it is difficult to market security solutions products to customers. Nokia's mobile products are also based mostly on GSM technology while South Korea makes use of the CDMA platform.
- China's Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) government and the Ministry of Science and Technology of the central government announced their formation of a joint committee on science and technology cooperation. Under the deal, the committee is aimed at increasing the cooperation of sectors of Chinese traditional medicine, environment protection, information technology and science publicity.
- In its first venture outside the mainland market, China Mobile (Hong Kong) revealed its plans to acquire control of a Hong Kong operator for HK$2.2 billion ($283.7 million). Under the plan, China Mobile agreed to buy 66.5 percent of China Resources Peoples Telephone from China Resources, a state-owned trading group. Taking over Peoples Telephone would bring Beijing-based China Mobile into a competition with five other Hong Kong operators. Analysts are saying China Mobile would follow up the purchase of Peoples Telephone, which currently does not have a license for 3G services, with another acquisition in Hong Kong. Peoples Telephone is Hong Kong's fifth-biggest cellular service provider.
- E-Mobile Information Technologies announced the signing of an agreement with Newpalm Information Technology, the leading SMS provider in China. Under the agreement, E-Mobile will provide mobile book content and Newpalm a mobile wireless entertainment platform. The platform will enable final cell phone users to access these contents through mobile service providers. Newpalm has offices in Beijing, Tianjing and Nanjing. With a presence in 30 local markets, Newpalm has service agreements with China Mobile and China Unicom. E-Mobile is acknowledged as an emerging leader in the broadband mobile content market through its operating subsidiary CHL Technologies.
- 2ndGate, a start-up based in Shanghai, is seeing the growing popularity of the Microsoft platform as an opportunity for it to focus on area overlooked by other developers. The major focus of 2ndGate is on the emerging .Net and Longhorn markets although the company said it is considering working on the conversion of .Net applications into Linux applications. According to Forrester Research in its study made last year, 56 percent of respondents planned to use .Net for upcoming development work, compared with 46 percent for the Java 2 Enterprise Edition (J2EE) platform. With rising costs in outsourcing destinations like India, software outsourcing shops are looking to the mainland. It is estimated that the mainland market would post a 50.9 percent growth annually through 2009, according to IDC. This growth is expected to reach the value of about $4.6 billion.
- China's export volume of computers and their components amounted to $63.5 billion for the period of January to August of 2005, according to its Ministry of Commerce. The figure represents about 49 percent of the total export volume for high-tech products. The report said China has exported as much as $71.7 billion of integrated circuits, mobile phones and parts, and computers and components during the first eight months of 2005, a figure which is 55.4 percent of total high-tech product export volume. The average unit price for export of computers and components registered a year-on-year growth of 11.1 percent during the first eight months of 2005. Its export volume for high-tech products was valued at $129.5 billion in the first eight months of the year, representing a 32.9 percent year-on-year growth.
- Mainland China is touted as the strongest competitor against South Korea and Taiwan in terms of shipments of TFT LCD panels, according to research firm DisplayBank. The report attributes the increasing market share of China to efforts by manufacturers in the region to build more 5G plants to further increase their production. The research firm notes that two or three new 5G and larger TFT LCD lines will be set up in the country by 2006 and 2007. SVA-NEC Liquid Crystal Display is planning to raise it monthly shipments to 550,000 units from its present 35,000 units. BOE Optoelectronics Technology also disclosed that it will increase its shipments to 1.7 million units, an increase from 76,000 units in the first quarter. Long-Teng Optronics and Tianma Microelectronics are now constructing 5G and 4.5G plants in mainland China.
- China has announced plans to develop its own next-generation DVD standard, a move that is aimed at breaking the monopoly of foreign companies and avoiding the payment of heavy licensing fees. About 80 percent of DVD players are made in China but makers have to shoulder around 40 percent of the cost to each player to license holders. If the standard is achieved, it will be another competitor to the two standards presently competing, the HD DCD and the Blu-ray Disc formats. The HD DVD is being pushed by Toshiba, Universal Studios, Intel and Microsoft. Blu-ray is supported by Sony, Apple Computer, Hewlett-Packard and Dell, together with other companies and studios. The Chinese standard will be based on but incompatible with HD DVD. It promises to provide higher definition, better sound and better anti-piracy measures.
Media, Gaming and Entertainment
- Viacom announced an agreement that will allow it to buy 70 percent of Magic Media, a Beijing-based company with advertising rights on Beijing's bus system. Chinese regulations at present permit foreign company to own up to 70 percent of an advertising company. These regulations are expected to be amended after December 2005, to allow foreign companies to own up to 100 percent ownership of advertising firms. With 3 to 4 operators holding similar rights to advertise on Beijing's buses, Magic Media does not really have exclusive operating rights for bus advertising in the Chinese capital. Analysts believe that global outdoor companies will continue to look at other Chinese outdoor opportunities in China.
- Taiwanese manufacturer Tatung said it is going to sell its PC desktop operations in exchange for a 30 percent share in Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS). The deal will make Tatung the major shareholder of ECS, a sign that is seen by analysts as indicating changing times in Taipei. Even as consolidation appears to be a natural move for most companies, in Taiwan the nature of firms that are rooted in family ventures always present a hindrance to acquisition. In a separate report, Asustek announced its taking over of Askey, an ADSL modem firm. This move of Asustek followed its acquisition of an industrial computer maker.
- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) announced sales surging to NT$25.2 billion ($759.1 million) in September, with the company explaining the growth as a result of strong demand. TSMC said wafer shipments are expected to climb by 14 percent to 16 percent in the third quarter to September from the second. Gross margin, the company said, is expected to grow between 41 percent and 43 percent from 39.7 percent in the second.
- Peoples Telephone posted a 7.9 percent increase in its first-half sales to HK$896 million ($115.5 million) from a year earlier. The company, however, said that profit went down 3.5 percent to HK$115 million ($14.8 million) because of the rise in the costs of the handsets it sells. The company is now looking to cheaper voice services and adopting a back-to-basics strategy as its response to the intensified price cuts made by 3G operators.
- City Telecom, through its fixed-line business subsidiary Hong Kong Broadband Network, announced the launching of "2b", a VoIP service based on the personal computer similar to the service provided by Skype. Under the offering, customers will pay a monthly fee of HK$48 ($6.1) for a local Hong Kong telephone number which can be used through the internet to send and receive calls to and from Hong Kong for free. The customer just needs to download first a special software. City Telecom has been developing the service with Nortel Networks. The company said it sees free internet telephone services replacing international direct dialing (IDD) within the next few years. IDD used to be main source of revenue for City Telecom.
- NOW Broadband TV of PCCW announced the launching of its high-resolution service in December, aiming to attract customers to its offering of connection speeds of up to 12 megabits per second. The company said it has for its first batch of orders about 10,000 units. Together with the introduction of high-definition television (HDTV), NOW said it is re-launching its video-on-demand movies and drama show service, which failed together with "interactive TV". To boost its movie content, NOW revealed the launching of a free Movie Trailer Channel. It has also entered into a partnership with the UA Cinema Circuit for the provision of a ticketing service that will enable viewers to book their cinema seats through their television remote control.
- Intel announced that wireless broadband operators in Singapore can deploy the faster WiMax technology when they begin to set up their networks next year. Intel is leading the push to develop the new technology that promises internet access a higher bandwidth and affords a wider range of 30km to 50km. The technology will enable users to log on from anywhere and anytime. To use the technology, computers will need special add-on WiMax PC cards. Intel is planning to put WiMax into its Centrino chips. Six companies in Singapore won bids for wireless broadband access (WBA). These firms are: MobileOne, inter-touch Holdings, Pacific Internet, Qala Singapore, SingTel and Starhub. Analysts are saying these vendors are expected to go for WiMax, with wireless broadband deployment in Singapore dovetailing with WiMax.
- Telecom Italia announced the signing of an agreement with Telkom Indonesia, the country's state-controlled fixed phone-line operator for the provision of technical know-how and cooperation on international free numbers, mobile services, Internet Protocol (IP) and pre-paid international telephone cards. At the center of the deal is Telecom Sparkle, which serves as the Internet arm of Telecom Italia set up for international voice, IP and internet services. Telkom has a limited mobility fixed wireless (cordless phone) network in most cities in Indonesia and holds a license to provide international services. Telkom provides mobile cellular services through Telkomsel, a firm that is 65 percent owned by Telkom and with the remaining share held by SingTel of Singapore. Telecom Italia and Telkom Indonesia are said to be considering Malaysia, Thailand, China, India, Singapore and Japan for joint future investments.
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