The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
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• Mozilla saw its web browser Firefox holds a 2-3 percent share in China's browser market presently, up from 1 percent when Firefox was officially launched in the nation a year earlier. Meanwhile, Firefox’s user number has doubled from a year earlier indicating that the rollout of Firefox 3.0 fueled the browser's extension in China. Having teamed up with Internet giants like Baidu.com (BIDU) and Google (GOOG), the company is expecting more partners in the near future in a bid to increase its market share in China. Firefox 3.0 recorded over 8 million downloads in 24 hours around the world after it was released on June 18, 2008.
• Sohu.com will sharpen its focus on internet-based advertising even as it continues to expand its online, multiplayer gaming service. Sohu (SOHU) is seeking growth from its participation in the Olympic Games and from overseas expansion. The Company CEO expected online advertising to grow 45 percent this year because of huge interest in the Olympic Games, but warned that growth would slow by 20 to 30 percent next year after the event. At its peak at the end of April, 600,000 people were playing the game simultaneously. This made it one of the top five most popular online games in the country. The game contributed US$38 million or 44 percent of Sohu's first-quarter revenue. That is expected to grow a further 5 to 10 percent in the second quarter over the first quarter.
• Prosten Technology Holdings Ltd., a wireless mobile search provider, saw its user number leap to around 120 million as of March 31, 2008, up from 10 million in 2006 when it started provide wireless music search services for China Mobile subscribers. Prosten is expected to have 150-160 million users at the end of this year. In addition, the company hopes to establish a longterm collaboration with China Mobile (CHL), which signed a three-year contract with Prosten in 2007. The Hong Kong GEM-listed Prosten is intended to get itself listed on the Main Board within two years.
• The number of China Mobile's (CHL) subscribers increased 7.491 million in May to reach an all-time high of 407 million. In contrast, China's leading fixed-line operator, China Telecom (CHA), suffered a net subscriber loss of 820,000 in May, which was also the 10th consecutive month of net subscriber lose. By the end of May, China Telecom's total subscribers stood at 215 million. China carried out a massive scheme in May to restructure its telecommunications sector, which involves the country's top five telecom companies, all state-owned, including mobile operators China Mobile and China Unicom, and fixed-line service providers China Tietong, China Telecom and China Netcom. They will be restructured into three groups, each able to provide both mobile and fixed-line services.
• China Mobile (CHL) has commenced the construction of 1,500 3G base stations of TD-SCDMA in Shanghai in June. The company will expand the 3G network coverage, apply the wireless broadband technologies, such as the Wi-Fi and HSDPA, and totally construct more than 3000 3G bases in the city by 2008-end, in a bid to make it wireless city. And it branches in Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang, are going to launch the service of one card with double numbers, by which its users are able to use two telephone numbers in one mobile phone.
• About 240 employees at China Unicom (CHU) headquarters, accounting for 29.3 percent of the total, will move to China Telecom, amid the country's telecom industry regrouping, persons in the know disclosed on June 23, 2008. They are mainly employees at departments for CDMA network operation, value-added services, plan construction, network construction, technologies, and maintenance. China Unicom and China Telecom have jointly set up a working team to finish affirming CDMA network assets before the end of July. Provincial branches of the two telecom operators will also commence preparations from June 25 for spinning off and new integrating of the CDMA network.
• Datang Mobile Communications Equipment Co Ltd is seeking to team up with Taiwan's MediaTek Inc. to expand its presence in the mainland market for TD-SCDMA handset chips. Datang Mobile is considering inviting MediaTek to invest in an affiliate of the Datang group. The newly established affiliate is meant to focus on development of TD-SCDMA chips for handsets, the newspaper said. TD-SCDMA is a 3G mobile telecommunications standard being pursued in China by Datang, the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology [CATT] and Siemens AG (SI).
• Huawei Technologies expects to sell 70 million units of terminal products this year, said the company. According to the company, these 70 million units of terminal products consist of mobile broadband equipments, handsets, routers, wireless gateways and ADSL, with a total value of about US$4.1 billion. Huawei Technologies sold 40 million units of telecommunication terminal products last year, realizing a total income of US$2.6 billion, which accounts for 16 percent of its overall income. Huawei Technologies sold more than 30 million units of terminal equipment in the first five months of this year, among which 3G data cards' sales volume exceeded 12 million units.
• China ordered the country's phone and Internet companies to stop signing up customers in August to focus on providing services during the Olympic Games. The moratorium builds on curbs by the government, which is also restricting traffic and shutting factories during the Olympics in Beijing, which begin in August. An unidentified spokesman for the telephone industry regulator in Beijing said the restrictions will affect operations in the capital and other cities hosting Olympic events. China Mobile has been told to stop any physical changes to its network after July 20. China Netcom Group Corp. (CN) will avoid installing equipment from Aug. 1 to August 25, AP cited an unidentified spokeswoman at the phone and Internet service provider as saying.
• Intel Corp. (INTC) signed a memorandum with the Ministry of Science and Technology of China to set up a Mobile Computing Technique Research Center. The center, jointly set up by the Intel Research Center together and Tsinghua University, will focus on the related researches of the whole framework of mobile computing, including the research on new generation end-to-end mobile computing framework, the research on new server, which is used in the mobile distributed computing, and the research on the new application software and operation mode. The center involves large sum of investment, said the top U.S. chipmaker. But the company did not reveal the details of the investment.
• Siano Mobile Silicon announced the official launch of its new Mobile Digital TV (MDTV) receiver chip, the SMS118X, targeting China's domestic mobile TV market. The chip, scheduled to debut in hand-held consumer applications at the Olympics Games this summer, supports the Chinese MDTV standard CMMB. CMMB is the technology developed in China and selected by the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) as the main platform for delivering TV services to mobile devices. The pilot launch of mobile TV in China, broadcasted in more than 30 cities over a UHF spectrum band, will be at the Olympic Games in August this year. Full commercial deployment, including satellite transmission and conditional access system, is scheduled for early 2009, prior to the Chinese New Year.
• Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMI) plans to sell a stake in less than six months at a much better price than the stock's market value. The chipmaker's financial adviser valued the company at a price range that the potential buyer regards as reasonable. The company has narrowed its search to a single Chinese investor. SMIC, which has shareholders' approval to sell as much as a 20 percent stake, would use the proceeds from a sale to pay off debt. After posting four quarters of losses, SMIC is abandoning the unprofitable computer-memory chip business to compete against Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSM) in producing customized chips used in game consoles and mobile phones.