- Softbank Corp. and Oracle Corp. Japan will ally in the broadband communications business, and plan to begin services for corporations from late January 2004. Japanese Internet investor and broadband service provider Softbank will provide its high-speed data communication network for connecting clients' computers, while Oracle will offer software to manage computer servers. The two companies will target firms that require stable broadband use, such as those in the medical and publishing industries. Joint marketing activity will begin immediately.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- While fee-based services distributing music over the Internet are expanding quickly in the U.S., music lovers in Japan have yet to show a strong interest in them. Label Gate Co. hopes to change that. The firm, which is jointly owned by Japanese record companies, intends to expand its distribution service to any media that can offer copyright protection, in a bid to secure new customers. In expanding the service, Label Gate also intends to improve its technology to prevent illegal copying and enhance its preparedness to fend off the expected entry of foreign distributors. Label Gate offered 6,500 pieces of music on its distribution service at the end of September and will raise the number to 100,000 by next summer.
- Square Enix Co. and Intel Corp. will cooperate to develop online games, establishing a committee for exchange of technical information and launching a joint marketing effort. The games will be compatible with personal computers and personal digital assistants. Despite a contracting game market, the two firms hope to nurture the relatively new online game sector. Square Enix sees PC-driven online games as the next growth market, which led the company to team up with the world's leading microchip manufacturer. The game software market is experiencing revolutionary change as more users play games on PCs and cellular phones instead of game consoles.
Mobile / Wireless
- Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Fujitsu Ltd. affiliate Animo Ltd. have developed a voiceprint authentication system that works with the FOMA 3G (third generation) wireless phone service of NTT DoCoMo Inc. The system lets users identify themselves to gain access to private corporate networks and conduct e-commerce over the Internet by simply speaking their password into the cellular telephone. Software in the phone presents on-screen guidelines for voice authentication and automatically connects the phone to an authentication center on the Internet. This center has a database of registered passwords associated with voiceprints, and when the user speaks his or her password into the handset, the site searches the voiceprint database to validate authenticity.
- Kyocera Corp.’s profit shrank 8% in the first half and it trimmed its full-year outlook, as costs soared due to a decision to write down inventories in the U.S. The Japanese manufacturer of semiconductors and other electronic components posted a group net profit of ¥15.8 billion ($143.3 million) for the six months ended Sept. 30, down from a year-earlier profit of ¥17.1 billion ($155.8 million). Sales edged up 0.3% to ¥518.4 billion ($4.7 billion) from ¥517 billion ($4.7 billion), but the company's operating profit plunged 39% to ¥22.6 billion ($205.1 million) from ¥37 billion ($336.1 million) a year earlier.
— The Korean Ministry of Information and Communication would spend 396.1 billion won ($336.7 million) next year to help support the information-technology industry. Of the total funds allotted for next year, W250 billion ($211.3 million) will be spent on applied technologies in the fields of software, digital content, computers, information and communications service, information protection and semiconductor-related products.
Mobile / Wireless
- KTF Corp.’s third-quarter net income went down 21.5 % on the year to 104 billion won ($88.4 million), hurt by greater marketing costs and disappointing subscriber growth. The company's marketing costs rose 7.8 % in the third quarter compared with the previous quarter as it spent more to increase the proportion of subscribers with advanced third-generation mobile handsets. Sales stood at W1.3 trillion ($1.1 million) in the three months ended Sept. 30, little changed from W1.4 trillion ($1.2 million) during the same period a year earlier. Operating profit dropped 8.6 % on the year to W206.7 billion ($174.7 million).
- Ahnlab Inc., Korea's largest antivirus and security solutions developer, would introduce, in partnership with U.S.-based Qualys, an early warning service that allows clients to minimize the effects of attacks by computer viruses and worms. Ahnlab’s new web-based service is designed to offer a detailed and systematic analysis of a network so that clients can quickly detect early signs of danger and come up with countermeasures. Qualys, a security solutions venture company, specializes in on-demand security audits and vulnerability management for enterprises. Established in March 1999, the company is leading the web-based security scanning service with its flagship product "QualysGuard."
- KT Corp. swung to a third-quarter loss, due to a one-time charge stemming from a major reduction in its work force. The company posted a net loss of W496.5 billion ($419.3 million) for the three-months ended Sept. 30, reversing a year earlier net profit of W305.7 billion ($258.3 million). KT’s third-quarter revenue slipped to W2.79 trillion ($2.4 billion).
- LG Telecom announced its third-quarter net profit reached W26.9 billion ($22.7 million), compared with a net loss of W31.3 billion won ($26.5 million) a year earlier, helped by lower marketing costs to attract new subscribers. Sales in the three months ended Sept. 30 declined to W555 billion ($469.1 million) from W674 billion ($569.7 million) in the year-earlier period. Compared with the previous quarter, sales rose 3.6 % and net profit went up 10.4 %.
- NetEase.com Inc swung to a profit in the third quarter. NetEase posted net income of $10.2 million compared with a loss of $1.1 million a year earlier. Revenue nearly doubled to $17.7 million on growth in online gaming. However, other online services that have been a key revenue driver for rival Chinese language portals were a drag on NetEase's results. NetEase executives cited increased competition, the termination of agreements with other web sites and mobile operators' decision to restrict the range of services the company can offer.
- Oracle Corp. and SAP AG are taking their first steps to sell to midsize businesses in China, moving into direct competition with local developers that offer business software at lower prices. The two giant companies have modified their complex suites of business applications to make them less expensive and easier to implement in the Chinese market. To save costs, both are signing up distributors to sell the products rather than relying on their own sales forces.
- United Microelectronics Corp. reported net profit nearly tripled in the third quarter amid soaring demand for computers and consumer-related gadgets. The company's better-than-expected profit is the latest sign that an industry recovery is under way, as UMC joins other chipmakers reporting strong profits, including rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and the Intel Corp. UMC’s net soared to NT$4.2 billion ($123.9 million) from NT$1.4 billion ($41.8 million) a year earlier. Revenue rose 13% to NT$21.5 billion ($633.9 million).
Singapore / Malaysia / Philippines / Indonesia
- ST Assembly Test Services Ltd. reported the first quarterly profit in the company's history. ST Assembly, which tests and packages chips, reported net profit of $776,000 for the third quarter shifting from a loss of $17.6 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 55% to $97.9 million from $63.1 million. Depreciation expenses shrank $3.3 million as the life of some chip-assembly equipment was extended to seven years from five. Depreciation expenses for the quarter totaled $33 million.
- Singapore Telecommunications broadband clients rose 109 % to 219,000 at the end of September from a year earlier. SingTel now commands more than 60 % of the broadband market in the technology-savvy city-state. The increase was driven by affordable prices and a greater awareness of the benefits of broadband technology, which allows users to browse the Internet at faster speeds compared to the traditional dial-up mode.
- Chinadotcom, which has moved away from its roots as a website operator to focus on selling software, posted higher third-quarter net. The company reported a third-quarter net profit of $6.1 million compared with a loss of US$3.3 million a year earlier. It was its fourth consecutive quarterly profit. Revenue doubled to $24.4 million from $12.1 million. Chinadotcom added its CDC software business added 18 customers during the third quarter, including some mainland-based businesses active in manufacturing exports. Paid monthly subscriptions in its mobile unit for such services as online dating, fortune-telling, jokes and ring tones at the end of last month totaled more than 5.1 million, up 16 % from the 4.4 million at the end of the second quarter. Short-message service revenue from Newpalm, the mobile services provider it acquired earlier this year, grew to $5.9 million in the third quarter, up 18 %.
- PCCW has applied to the telecommunications regulator to have its residential-dominant status removed to protect its market share and join rivals in cutting prices. The Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) confirmed it had received PCCW's application to change its status to a non-dominant carrier for residential customers. The waiver, which follows a similar application made by PCCW for its corporate fixed-line service in August, could help curb PCCW's fixed-line loss to rivals. As of June, PCCW had a 77 % share of the fixed-line market, operating a total of 2.93 million lines, down from 82 % at the beginning of this year. OFTA is conducting a two-month public consultation on PCCW's application.
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