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 Japanese tech

Life Sciences

- Eli Lilly is to market new osteoporosis drug for Japan. Eli Lilly Japan has applied to the Health Ministry for permission to market raloxifene HCl for the treatment of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Eli Lilly is developing the Japanese market to compensate for the loss in revenues associated with the expiration of its patent on Prozac.

- Takeda Chemical Industries is to overhaul drug R&D processes. The top-ranked pharmaceutical manufacturer will establish a new R&D centre to consolidate domestic operations, and strengthen its system for coordinating clinical tests conducted in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, according to product.

- Yakult will sell Aventis Pharma adrenal cancer treatment. Aventis Pharma will transfer sales of an adrenal cancer treatment to Yakult Honsha in order boost the efficiency of its operations. The Aventis group markets Yakult's Campto cancer treatment in Europe.

- Mitsubishi Electric is testing remote medical treatment system in China, where about 60% of China's medical facilities and experts are concentrated in urban areas. The system allows doctors to provide a diagnosis and issue treatment instructions after viewing images transmitted from other medical institutions via satellite hookups with a throughput of 2 megabits per second.


- IBM Japan will renew emphasis on B2B e-commerce. IBM will begin offering notebook computers, servers and other hardware as well as software in the B2B market, working with Nihon Ariba, a maker of e-commerce systems software.

Mobile / Wireless

- KDDI's CDMA-based service exceeds rival NTT DoCoMo's UMTS service. The new service has attracted a total of 830,000 subscribers since its April 1 launch and is growing by 10,000 subscriptions a day. That far exceeds the roughly 112,000 subscribers that NTT DoCoMo signed up during more than eight months of a similar service that uses Universal Mobile Telecommunications System.

- NTT West is selling PDA content via terminals installed at railroad stations. PDA users can download the content - some 1,000 items are currently available, such as news, sports programs, cartoons, magazines, music and games - via the terminals by inserting a memory card and money into it. The company will install a total of 100 such terminals in Osaka in the first year.


- Negotiations between Nifty and Sony Communication Network have unwound. Sony abandoned the takeover attempt when financial terms for the settlement could not be reached with Fujitsu, which owns Nifty, the leading Internet service provider. Many ISPs, such as NEC's BIGLOBE, Matsushita Electric Industrial's hi-ho, Japan Telecom's ODN and KDDI's DION have announced partnerships.

- Intel is to end web-hosting cooperation with NEC. Intel has decided to end its International Data Centre and Intel Online Services businesses, which offered a full range of services from basic data-processing infrastructure to full systems operation. This service had only one client, however, so the decision to discontinue it should not have a major negative impact.


- Fujitsu and Toshiba are to partner in the computer-chip sector, a long-struggling business for the Japanese electronics rivals. The alliance will centre on system LSI (large-scale integrated circuits), a relatively sophisticated kind of computer chip used in mobile phones and digital appliances. The companies also said they would consider integrating their overall chip operations.


- Toshiba and others are to broker used-chip making equipment. A group of some 20 companies, including Toshiba and Sumisho Lease will this month launch an online brokering business for used semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Soliciting sell and buy offers on a website, the business will serve as an intermediary for deals.


Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Sony music to lower music download fees by 40%. Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) will cut fees for its bitmusic music distribution service by 40% from July, from Y350 ($2.89) per song to Y210 ($1.73) for personal computers and portable terminals, and from Y500 ($4.12) to Y300 ($2.47) at kiosk terminals. Leading music producer Avex lowered the fees for its @ service in April.

- Japan's market for streaming content to expand to Y168 billion ($1.4 billion) in 2006, or 20 times larger than the market of Y8.4 billion ($69.2 million) in 2001, according to a survey by IDC Japan. As ADSL and other broadband connections prevail, the demand for video content, including movies and TV programs in particular, is increasing faster than that of voice content.

- Bertelsmann is to sell discount books in Japan from 2003, hoping to become Japan's first major discount book business. Bertelsmann will purchase books under contract from some 100 publishers, including Kadokawa Shoten and Sony Magazines, allowing the German company to discount prices and sell the books 30-50% cheaper through its mail-order service and the internet.

- Leading US and European record companies to sell forgery-resistant CDs in Japan before doing so in the US, since US law allows consumers to record music for personal use. Warner Music, Toshiba EMI and BMG Funhouse intend to employ the technology developed by Israeli firm Midbar Tech which prevents copying onto computer hard disks and CD-Rs but not onto MiniDiscs.

A week in Korea tech

Life Sciences

- Rules on genetically modified products to be strengthened. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) will submit the ôGM billö to the National Assembly. The GM bill empowers the government to control bio-safety, import and trade procedures of GM products, as well as the health and safety examination procedures.


- LG's booming global iris-recognition market. LG was anticipating exports of around $35 million worth of iris-recognition systems which are perhaps the most powerful and accurate in identification, but the explosion in demand for more advanced security systems meant that LG achieved export shipments totaling $87 million, virtually dominating the global iris-recognition systems market.


- Ericsson plans to downsize its Korean workforce, citing its failed bid to win a contract for the supply of third-generation (3G) telecommunication equipment, but the planned action has sparked a immediate labour union protest. Ericsson Korea failed in its bid to supply third-generation (3G) telecommunication equipment to SK Telecom, the nation's top mobile carrier.

- Hanaro, AIG plan joint bid for 30% Powercomm stake. Hanaro, a broadband-services provider, said it hopes to tap into Powercomm's network to increase its business. EMP, a U.S.-based telecommunications investment fund, will join AIG and Hanaro.

Mobile / Wireless

- SK Telecom has formed an alliance with Sun Microsystems, in the field of research and development, business models and joint projects. The two companies will jointly set up testing infrastructure for Sun's "Sun One" Web service strategy. In addition, SK Telecom and Sun are set to push forward with joint programs for Java, Sun One and wireless Internet technologies.

Venture Capital / Investments

- Goldman Sachs takes a 6.62% stake in LG Electronics Investment, to become the second-biggest shareholder in the company. Goldman Sachs bought 1.027 million LGEI shares at 32,000-33,000 won each in the market from June 10-17 for investment purposes. Goldman's proprietary traders were behind the buying, a person familiar with the situation said.

- Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) pledges venture capital for investment in Korean and American venture companies. W50 billion ($41.3 million) will go to biotechnology and pharmaceutical venture companies in New Jersey and Maryland. Some W7 billion ($5.8 million) will be invested in venture firms based in Daedeok Science Town and North Jeolla Province.


- Samsung SDI is to begin volume production of lithium-ion batteries for slim mobile phones at the end of this year. The round-shape battery is slimmer than other conventional products by 1mm. Global mobile manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, Motorola and Palm expressed an interest in the prototype products. Samsung's move is a step ahead compared with rival companies.

A week in Chinese tech

Mobile / Wireless

- China Unicom subscriber figures dip. Shares in China Unicom sank to another record low yesterday after the company unveiled disappointing subscriber numbers for its code division multiple access (CDMA) service. China's No 2 cellular carrier said it had signed up only 83,000 new users last month, bringing the number to 785,000.


- Applied Materials is to receive over US$300 million in orders in China this year, the firm's deputy China general manager said. While China accounted for only 5% of the company's revenue, it was the fastest-growing market last year. China's US$20 billion chip market is growing at 15% to 20% annually.


- The high-technology sector is attracting Taiwanese investment in China. Experts said that Taiwan businesses are investing more in China's electronic information sector and regard the Yangtze Delta region as a promising investment centre. Companies in the Hsinchu Science Industrial Park, the heart of Taiwan's high-tech industry, are investing in the Yangtze Delta.

A week in Taiwan tech


- Government rejected a sole bid for a stake in Chunghwa Telecom, saying it was incomplete. The identity of the foreign bidder wasn't disclosed, although officials have said it isn't registered in the U.S. The decision concluded the government's third domestic offer of a 5.7% stake in the carrier, which began June 13. The government plans to announce details for a new auction in the next few days.

Mobile / Wireless

- KG Telecom launches the region's first non-Japanese version of the popular i-Mode service, while rival Taiwan Cellular launches its multimedia messaging service (MMS). The service uses KGT's existing general packet radio services (GPRS) over the global system for mobile (GSM) network.


- Taiwanese DRAM manufacturers expect a rebound in revenues by the end of June as spot market prices have firmed. Spot market prices of 128Mb chips have dropped below US$2, from over US$3 due chiefly to the slack sales of personal computers and the poor deliveries of motherboards worldwide.

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech


- Moody's lowers credit outlook on Singapore Telecommunications and its SingTel Optus Australian unit went to negative from stable on concerns about SingTel's ability to cut debt in a tough operating environment. This could lead to a downgrade of SingTel's credit ratings in the next fiscal year should the company fail to control debt levels.

A week in Hong Kong tech

Life Sciences

- Biotech stocks slump as CK Life Sciences is cleared for listing. Analysts said news of CK Life Sciences' flotation plan on the Growth Enterprise Market had been discounted by the market and there was "no excitement any more." Shares of GEM-listed Tianjin TEDA Biomedical Engineering dropped another 6.67 per cent to 56 HK cents, bringing an accumulated 45.44 per cent drop since its debut on Tuesday.


- Sony is ramping up investments in Hong Kong and Japan as it integrates its content and hardware platforms for the delivery of Internet services. So-net Hong Kong is the firm's only Internet service provider (ISP) outside Japan. It is now eyeing potential ISP acquisitions in Japan to boost its Internet subscriber base.


- HSBC is to adopt artificial intelligence technology to boost online foreign exchange trading business in Asia. The bank recently contracted Hong Kong-based applications developer Cluster Technology and the Chinese University of Hong Kong to provide analysis and forecasting of capital flows within its Web-based franchise, markets@hsbc.

- Microsoft is to move its 250 Hong Kong employees to Cyberport in October. Microsoft Hong Kong general manager Mark Phibbs said the move was a commitment to Cyberport and the SAR's efforts to become an information technology hub for the Pearl River Delta.


- PCCW is to expand in the Internet protocol virtual private network (IP-VPN) services sector. The firm has coverage in Hong Kong, the mainland and six other countries, and will extend coverage to 60 to 70 cities in 15 countries by the end of 2002. It will also offer intranet solutions, Web conferencing and Web casting, portal management, remote surveillance and other applications.

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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