The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
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- Fujitsu (OTCPK:FJTSY) plans to launch low-cost hand-held PCs in Asia this fall, becoming the first Japanese maker to enter a market controlled by rivals such as Hewlett-Packard and Asustek Computer. Fujitsu would price its hand-held PCs at US$500 to US$700 for sale in China, Hong Kong and Singapore, going after demand for portable PCs to complement a more powerful PC at home. Fujitsu next plans to sell low-cost hand-held PCs in Japan by March 2010, but the company will proceed with caution at home. In Japan, a low-end PC would compete with mobile phones packed with TV-viewing and music-downloading functions and could significantly affect the market for Fujitsu's mobile phones.
- Ericsson (ERIC) has signed a frame agreement with Softbank Mobile to expand and upgrade its HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) network to increase capacity and enable even faster mobile broadband. With this contract, Ericsson will expand its business with Softbank by providing enhanced HSPA on new and existing base stations in the high traffic areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. The deal also includes an extension of the Ericsson circuit and packet switched networks, a field maintenance service and a full turnkey service for the rollout of new base stations. HSPA is the world's most widely deployed mobile broadband technology, with 198 commercially deployed networks available in 86 countries worldwide.
- The new 24-hour online bank enables subscribers of KDDI's "au" mobile phone service to pay for goods and services they purchase with their mobile handsets. Money transfers between au service subscribers will require a sender to input only the receiver's phone number and amount of money via his or her handset. KDDI Corp. and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (MTU) opened a joint cellphone-based Internet bank and began accepting applications for account openings. Jibun Ginko, operated by the mobile phone service provider and the core bank of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., is the fifth online bank to open in Japan after Japan Net Bank, Sony Bank, eBank and SBI Sumishin Net Bank.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- Nintendo Co. (OTCPK:NTDOY) said U.S. retailers sold more than 666,000 of its Wii consoles last month, making the machine the overall leader among the new generation of video-game machines. Consumers have purchased almost 10.9 million of the players since Wii was introduced in November 2006, passing the total rung up by Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Xbox 360, researcher NPD Group Inc. Wii, designed for easy-to-play games and equipped with a motion-sensitive controller that can be swung like a racquet or sword, has gained popularity among people who don't play traditional shooting and racing games. Wii has outsold Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.'s (SNE) PlayStation 3 in all but one month since it went on sale. Total industry sales rose 53 percent to US$1.69 billion in June from US$1.1 billion a year earlier. Consoles and portable players jumped 54 percent to US$615.1 million from US$399.2 million. Game sales increased 61 percent to US$872.6 million.
- Tomy Co. plans to take its video game software business to the next level by developing titles outside Japan for the first time, aiming to raise overseas game sales from several hundred million yen to 6 billion yen (US$56.3 million) by fiscal 2010. The company will set up a game studio at its U.S. arm's headquarters in California within the year, supporting it with 300-400 million yen (US$3-4 million) annually. It plans to roll out seven titles in the U.S. this fiscal year and 12 a year starting in fiscal 2009. Similar to Tomy's existing offerings in Japan and the U.S., the games will be designed for play on consoles made by Nintendo, Sony and others. Unlike many of Tomy's earlier games, the new ones will feature its own copyrighted characters, eliminating licensing fees. The company plans to cut its ties with distributors and shift to direct sales next spring.
- Sony Corp. (SNE) began offering a video-downloading service for its PlayStation 3 videogame console, part of its aim to broaden its audience and grab a piece of the growing content- downloading market. The service will enable PS3 users to hire or buy TV and movie content from a number of major studios. The launch also reflects the fruits of a three-year push by Sony Chief Executive Howard Stringer to revitalize the company by getting its business units to work more closely with one another. Sony’s video service will let users rent or buy movies and television shows produced by major studios and production companies-including Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures.