• The Japanese government’s plans to lift sim card locking restrictions for mobile phones will lower operator switching costs for end-users in the country. Shares of leading mobile service provider Softbank (SFTBF.PK) slid as analysts expect this new law to favor operators like DoCoMo (DCM), whose network coverage is broader than Softbank’s. DoCoMo had lost many users to Softbank after the latter became the sole reseller of Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone in the country. The new law will allow users who bought the iPhone from Softbank to switch to DoCoMo without any penalties.
• ArrayComm, a provider of multi-antenna signal processing which is a solution for wireless infrastructure and client demand applications, was chosen to support NEC’s (NELTY.PK) mobile WiMax network roll-out in Japan. WiMax is a 4G network technology and is competing with Long-Term Evolution (LTE) to become the preferred standard for 4G networks globally.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
• Nintendo (NTDOY.PK) celebrated the completion of Nintendo DsiWare’s first year of existence. In the last year, DSiWare offered almost 150 games and applications, reinforcing its positioning as one of the most creative game designer in the industry. Nintendo’s games and applications are designed to run on Nintendo’s video game console V.
• Tose Co. Ltd., a video game developer and publisher based in Japan, announced financial results for six months ending February 2010. Total sales fell by 49.6% to 1.63 billion yen (US$17.2 million), while net loss stood at 15 million yen (US$150,000).Tose is one of the largest publicly traded companies in the gaming industry in Asia.
• Dawn Corp., a provider of web and wireless Geographic Information System (GIS) software, announced financial results for nine months ending February 2010 for the parent company. Revenues stood at 337 million yen (US$3.5 million), an increase of 0.5% over the same period from last year with net profit of 47 million yen (US$500,000).
• Sharp Corp. (SHCAY.PK) announced a partnership with DivX (DIVX), a digital media company that creates, distributes and licenses digital video technologies. Through this agreement, DivX will enable high quality DivX video on Sharp’s new range of digital televisions. Sharp also announced a new patent license agreement with Mosiad through which the company can get access to Mosaid’s wireless technology patents for five years.
• Fuji Electronics Co. Ltd., a manufacturer and wholesaler of semiconductor chips, announced full year results for 12 months ending February 2010. Revenues fell by 27.3% to 29.5 billion yen (US$311 million) with net income fell by 25.6% to 964 million yen (US$10 million).
• Magna Chip Semiconductor completed a private debt placement of US$250 million in senior notes in the Qualified Institutional Investors (144A) market in the U.S. The 8-year notes carry a coupon of 10.5% and were issued at a discount to par at 98.674. This corresponds to a yield-spread of 708 basis points over the reference rate.
• Nokia (NOK), the world’s largest handset maker, plans to offer free music downloads from major artists and labels along with its new mobile phones in China. This offer is part of the company’s launch of its new ‘Comes with Music’ service. The company is hoping to boost its handset sales and prices with this new service. Nokia’s ‘Comes with Music” service is struggling to match the popularity of Apple’s iTunes globally.
• Topcon Positioning Systems, a subsidiary of Topcon Corp., introduced its new, proprietary technology Topcon IP-S2 which is a mobile geographical surveying system. The product uses high precision receivers, encoders, cameras and scanners to offer high speed 3-D spatial data collection solutions. The technology will transform the quality of maps, cityscape models and other geographical information usually obtained through mobile service systems.
• China Telecom Corp. (CHT) achieved total operating revenues of 208.2 billion yuan (US$30.5 billion) (excluding amortization of the upfront connection fees) for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009, up 12.9% from 184.5 billion yuan (US$27.0 billion) in the prior year. Revenue from mobile services was 35.6 billion yuan (US$5.2 billion), revenue from wired broadband access service was 47.1 billion yuan (US$6.9 billion) with a 17.1% rise year on year, and revenue from comprehensive information service was 28.0 billion yuan (US$4.1 billion) with a 9.3% increase year on year. Excluding amortization of the upfront connection fees, net profit attributable to the listed company's shareholders reduced 33.9% year on year to 13.3 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) from 20.1 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) a year ago. Capital expenditure decreased 21.4% to 38.0 billion yuan (US$5.6 billion) from 48.4 billion yuan (US$7.1 billion).
• China Mobile (CHL), announced a 40% reduction in its investment plans in Pakistan for 2010. The company will spend US$300 million, a substantial reduction from US$500 million in 2009.
Media, Gaming and Entertainment
• CDC Games announced the launch of a new game in China called ‘East Fantasy Online’. The company claims that the game is unique in that it integrates advanced 3D techniques, shock controller support and voiceovers. CDC Games claims to have more than 160 million users.
• China leading game developer and publisher Perfect World will launch the beta testing process of the new version of its MMORPG ‘Battle of the Immortals’ on April 20th. The original version of the game which was launched in April 2009 has completed one year and the company is planning to celebrate by launching a slew of promotional events.
• Shanda’s (GAME) literature division called Shanda Literature entered into a partnership with the Northern United Publishing and Media Group (NUPMG) to exchange services. Through this agreement, Shanda will provide content and marketing support for NUPMG, while the latter will provide publishing and copyright services to Shanda. NUPMG will also gain the first right of refusal to invest in any future moves by Shanda to raise capital. Shanda Literature controls more than 80% of the Chinese online literature market.
• KongZhong Corp. (KONG) expects nearly US$4 million revenues from its newly acquired subsidiary Dacheng Network in the first quarter of 2010. Dacheng plans to release an upgrade of ‘Loong’, a 3D MMORPG that the company developed in-house.
• AsiaInfo Technologies (ASIA), a wholly owned subsidiary of AsiaInfo Holdings acquired 80% stake in Hanzhou Zhongbo Software Technology Co. Ltd. Hangzhou Zhongbo provides IT solutions such as Business Support Systems ("BSS"), Digital Television Operation Support Systems ("DTV OSS") and Customer Relationship Management ("CRM") systems for cable operators in China. With approximately 90 employees, of which over 90% are engineers, Hangzhou Zhongbo serves more than 20 cable operators, including Jiangsu Cable Company, the world's second largest cable operator in terms of number of subscribers.
• Tencent’s (TCTZF.PK) ‘QQ Dance’, which currently has over 100 million unique users, will be launched in a new enhanced version on April 15th. The game is one of the most popular titles released by Tencent and recorded 1.2 million peak concurrent users last year.
• Baidu (BIDU) Toolbar, Internet browser auxiliary software built by Baidu Inc. has launched online translation service in partnership with iciba.com under the support of Kingsoft Corp. Ltd. After installing the latest version of Baidu Toolbar, Internet users will be able to use the service by opening IE browsers. When the Web page they are viewing contains English words, they could see the translation results by suspending mouse on the contents they want to translate. If their computers are installed with TTS voice engine developed by Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), they are able to hear the pronunciation of the English words. Iciba.com used to cooperate with Google Inc. (GOOG). However, the latter retreated from China in March 2010. Hence, the former began to contact with Baidu for cooperation.
• According to a circular issued by the Ministry of Culture, China's Internet cafe operators will face tougher penalties for allowing minors to log online. According to the new rules, an Internet cafe will have to suspend operation for 30 days if found providing services to a minor, defined as someone below 18 years old. If such a violation occurs twice in a year, its license will be completely withdrawn. China has banned Internet cafes from providing services to minors since 2002, in wake of a series of Internet cafe accidents and increasing number of teenagers addicted to online gaming.
• ZTE (ZTCOF.PK), China’s largest telecom equipment manufacturer announced strong financial results for year ending December 2009 due to robust demand for third-generation telecommunications equipment in China. The company recorded net profit of 2.46 billion yuan (US$360.4 million), from 1.66 billion yuan the previous year. Domestic market income rose 75% to 30.30 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion), while income from overseas markets, including Asia and Africa, rose 11% to 29.97 billion yuan (US$4.5 billion). China issued licenses for third-generation mobile services in early 2009, which led to stronger demand for ZTE's products and services as companies rushed to build infrastructure to support the new platform.
• Switzerland Logitech International, the leading computer peripherals manufacturer, announced a renewed focus on the Chinese market in 2010. The Chinese region will be treated separately from APAC from this year. China is the fastest growing market in the world for personal computers and other consumer electronic devices.
• Beijing Taiyisi Solar Technology, Hebei Dongxu Investment and the Municipal Government of Tongliao will partner to invest 1.25 billion yuan (US$183 million) to set up an amorphous silicon thin film solar facility in Tongliao. The facility expects annual net profit of 260 million yuan (US$38 million) upon sales of 1 billion yuan (US$146.5 million).
• G Group, a Chinese solar products manufacturer, has agreed to source US$138 million of solar manufacturing equipment from Jusung Engineering, a Korean semiconductor and solar cell equipment manufacturer. This deal is Jusung’s largest contract ever and involves the supply of thin film and crystalline silicon equipment.
• China Development Bank has granted a five year credit line facility to Suntech Power Holdings (STP). The credit facility is worth US$7.29 billion and will help the photovoltaic module maker expand and grow its business. This announcement by the bank comes on the heels of its partnership with Trina Solar (TSL) for US$4.3 billion credit facility.
• China Solar Photovoltaic SA has begun construction of its proposed solar cell manufacturing facility in Shandong. The company plans to spend US$30 million to build the new plant. The company recently signed a large deal with Germany’s AE Photonics to supply photovoltaic modules in the next two years.