The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
• Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) announced its plan to launch the advanced version of its Xbox 360 game console, Xbox 360 Elite, this October in Japan. The device, which is popular in the U.S., has slow sales in Japan, where it trails behind Nintendo Co. Ltd. (OTCPK:NTDOY) and Sony Corp (NYSE:SNE). The Elite's 120-gigabyte hard drive is six times bigger than the regular Xbox 360's hard drive and twice as big as that of Sony's PlayStation 3 console. It can store thousands of songs as well as a library of high-definition TV shows, movies and arcade games. Microsoft said it will sell the Xbox 360 Elite for 47,800 yen (US$390), compared with 29,800 yen for the most basic version of the Xbox 360.
• Industry sources said a Rakuten Inc. subsidiary, Rakuten Media Investment Inc., has filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court against Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc. [TBS], demanding that the broadcaster disclose details of its stock trading records. In the suit, Rakuten presented the allegation that TBS has spent some 93 billion yen (US$754 million) to form cross-shareholding ties with its business partners after Rakuten proposed a merger of the two companies in October 2005. Sources said Rakuten saw the cross-shareholding deals as move to stop an unwanted takeover bid. Rakuten, the country’s biggest online shopping mall operator, is also the largest shareholder of TBS. Earlier this year, Rakuten said it wanted to increase its stake in TBS to above 20 percent from about 19.9 percent.
• Enterbrain, a gaming magazine, reported that the combined sales of video game consoles and software in Japan posted a climb of 25.8 percent in the first half of 2007 from a year before to a record 318.9 billion yen (US$2.5 billion). The magazine ascribed the surge to a strong demand for new machines. Of the total, sales of game consoles went up 67.7 percent to 153.7 billion yen (US$1.2 billion), with software sales registering a growth of 2.1 percent to 165.2 billion yen (US$1.3 billion). In the January-June period, Nintendo Co. reported sales of about 1,775,000 units of its Wii console, compared with 504,000 units of Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3. Nintendo also disclosed that it has sold some 3,714,000 units of its DS hand-held console. Sales of Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 were placed at 123,000 units. Enterbrain said it looks forward to brisk sales of game consoles and software as new games are launched.
• Limelight Networks (NASDAQ:LLNW), a leading content delivery network for digital media, announced its establishment of a wholly owned Japanese subsidiary, Limelight Networks Japan, Inc., with headquarters located in Tokyo. Limelight Networks Japan said it will focus on providing Limelight's digital content delivery network [CDN] services to Japanese customers and partners. Limelight Networks is a high-performance content delivery network for digital media, providing massively scalable, global delivery solutions for on- demand and live Internet distribution of video, music, games and social media. Limelight is the content delivery network of choice for more than 700 of the world's top media companies, including Akimbo, Amazon Unbox, Belo Interactive, Brightcove, "BuyMusic" @ Buy.com, DreamWorks, LLC, Facebook, FOXNews.com, IFILM, ITV Play, Metacafe, MSNBC.com, MySpace, and many others.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
• Med-tech company Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) announced the launching of its first wireless-technology devices in Japan. The products include wireless systems that let doctors monitor a patient's pulse remotely and automatically receive data from the device. Industry experts said the use of the device reduces the time needed for follow-up visits.
• Ocean Blue Software, the specialist digital TV software developer, announced the release of its advanced TV software suite on Toshiba's (OTCPK:TOSBF) TC9040x Donau series of processors. The new Linux-based software will allow for fast development of reduced component count consumer electronics products, such as set top boxes (STBs), integrated digital televisions (iDTVs), personal video recorders (PVRs), and combination hard disk/DVD recorder systems. Ocean Blue said it is nearing completion of the development, which takes advantage of Toshiba's powerful, compact, and highly integrated ICs for free-to-air [FTA] and Pay-TV digital television applications.
• Mitsubishi Electric of Japan (OTCPK:MIELY) and Wonderware, a business unit of Invensys (OTCPK:IVNYY), announced the signing of a new software alliance agreement. Under the agreement, Mitsubishi will combine Wonderware software with its own hardware to deliver enhanced automation and information solutions worldwide. The agreement will also see the two companies work on the technical integration of their respective offerings and on joint marketing activities to promote the customer value of the combined solutions that are easy to use and engineer.
• Toshiba Corp. disclosed filing a lawsuit against German DVD duplicator EDD Bizz GmbH and its director over alleged patent infringement. The Japanese company said it has filed the case with the Duesseldorf Regional Court. According to Toshiba, EDD had manufactured and sold DVD videodiscs in Germany without concluding a licensing agreement with Toshiba concerning the patents. The agreements are needed to satisfy DVD format specifications.
• Verbatim Corp. announced its acquisition of the assets of SmartDisk Corp.'s (OTC:SMDK) external hard drive and digital-imaging business in a deal valued at US$9.5 million. The acquisition covers physical assets, patents, trademarks and technology. The report said that together with the acquisition, Verbatim also plans to will hire engineering, operations, marketing and sales personnel to assist with future business growth. SmartDisk is a Florida-based provider of portable, network and multimedia storage products and technologies. Verbatim develops and markets products for storing, moving and using digital content and is owned by Mitsubishi Kagaku Media Co. of Japan.
• Casio Computer Co. (OTCPK:CSIOY) and NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE:DCM) announced their decision to set up a joint venture to provide digital payment services. The joint venture will have a capitalization of 750 million yen (US$6.1 million), and will be called CXD Next Co. Under the agreement, Casio will own 60 percent of the entity, with NTT DoCoMo owning the rest. The two companies said CXD Next will begin providing services mainly for DoCoMo's iD mobile credit-card platform in September.
Disclaimer: IRG is not responsible for the accuracy of the news compiled within this article, which is based on publicly available information.