The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
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- Japan will stop pushing for legislation to charge royalties on the sales of iPods and other portable digital music players, giving in to opposition from electronics makers. What is being dubbed here as “the iPod tax” has been tossed around for years. The tax would allow about 1 percent to 3 percent of the price of a digital recording device to go to recording companies, songwriters and artists. The Agency for Cultural Affairs had hoped to submit legislation to Parliament as early as this fall. But amid a flurry of criticism from electronics makers, a meeting of a panel studying the proposal failed to reach any agreement. The cultural agency proposed a compromise in May to charge only portable digital music players, such as Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPods, and digital hard disk recorders.
- DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) will launch its BlackBerry service this August, targeting individuals, as well as small to midsize businesses. The BlackBerry 8707h will be sold through its own online shops and DoCoMo's corporate business partners. The BlackBerry internet service will cost 3,045 yen (US$28.40) per month tax included. A discount packet-billing plan to be launched on September 1, called the BlackBerry data transmission package, will enable users to transmit up to 80,000 packets of data per month for a flat charge of 1,680 yen (US$15.70).
- Tokyo Electron said orders fell 35 percent in the fiscal first quarter because an oversupply of computer memory forced chipmakers to postpone spending plans. Orders for equipment used to make chips and flat panels declined to 104 billion yen (US$973 million) in the three months ended June 30, from 159.3 billion yen (US$2 billion) in the previous quarter. Japanese makers including Tokyo Electron and Advantest Corp. (NYSE:ATE) may see a 6.6 percent drop to a combined 2.08 trillion yen for sales of gear used to make chips and flat panels this fiscal year. Tokyo Electron's orders have hit bottom and will begin to recover this quarter. Chipmaking equipment orders slid 27 percent to 72 billion yen (US$678 million) in the quarter.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- Japanese videogame maker Square Enix Co. had launched its first game for Apple Inc's iPod, broadening its target hardware to the top-selling media player. Square Enix, known for such blockbuster titles as “Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts”, began offering the “Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes” roll-playing game this week in Apple's iTune store. The game goes for US$4.99 in the U.S., 4.99 euros (US$7.84) in Europe and 600 yen (US$5.60) in Japan. Unlike some iPod games, which are modified versions of mobile phone games, “Song Summoner” was developed exclusively for iPod and is designed to take advantage of the machine's functionality. A game player picks a song stored in the iPod and the song determines the types and abilities of the fighters in the game, or “Tune Troopers”.