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IRG Technology, Media and Telecommunications Weekly Market Review (Week of 27 Sept – 1 Oct 2010)

         Hewlett-Packard Japan Ltd. will lift the personal computer production capacity at its Akishima factory in Tokyo to 2.1 million units a year next spring from 1.4 million units to keep up with growing corporate demand. The company hopes to achieve the capacity hike by adding another assembly line. The amount of investment involved was not disclosed. The Akishima factory assembles desktop PCs, workstations and servers. Its output accounts for slightly more than 60 percent of the products Hewlett-Packard Japan ships in the domestic market.
         Konica Minolta Holdings’s operating profit might boost 13 percent year-on-year to about 11 billion yen (US$130.5 million) in the July-September quarter, due to robust European demand for copiers. Although Konica Minolta is feeling the heat from the strong yen and the impact of inventory adjustment by LCD panel makers, its copiers are selling well among European companies, which have regained earning power amid the weak euro and resumed information technology investment. Overall sales are seen edging up 1 percent on the year to 205 billion yen (US$2.5 billion). Sales volume for copiers is climbing 30 percent even after the strong April-June quarter. Konica Minolta has largely resolved the issue of product delivery delays stemming from that quarter's parts shortage.
         LG Electronics will re-enter the Japanese television market, selling 10 LCD models through major discount retailers starting in November. The company hopes to secure at least a 5 percent share of the Japanese market within five years. Including the 55LX9500, which is expected to sell for around 480,000 yen (US$5,698), some models will offer added features such as 3D capabilities. As a start, LG will sell TVs through three major discount retailers: Edion Corp., Bic Camera Inc. and Yodobashi Camera Co. LG currently commands the second spot in the market with a 12.2 percent share. LG thought to enter the Japanese TV market as local brand recognition boosted due to its cellular phones. LG has been selling handsets through NTT DoCoMo since 2006. Leveraging good designs, the South Korean firm has sold roughly 4 million units in Japan so far.
         Equinix will build its third International Business Exchange (IBX) data center, called TY3, in Tokyo, Japan. The US$70 million, 79,600 gross-square-foot TY3 IBX data center, targeted for completion in mid-2011, will offer 960 cabinet equivalents to industries including cloud and IT services providers, online content and financial market participants doing business in Japan. The TY3 IBX data center will have direct fiber connectivity to Equinix's two other IBX data centers in the city, TY1 and TY2. Current and prospective customers will have direct access to more than 50 networks including both international and domestic carriers.
         Elpida Memory Inc. has set its sights on Samsung Electronics Co., which will begin mass-producing DRAM chips with a low-30-nanometer line width in December. Samsung began mass-producing upper-30nm DRAM chips in July, a first for the industry, but Elpida's latest advance means the Japanese DRAM maker will beat the South Korean rival by about 5nm in circuit width. The gap translates to just one-16,000th of a hair's thickness, but it makes a huge difference in the chip business. The shift will boost the number of chips it can harvest from a wafer by 45 percent, dramatically raising productivity and pushing down production costs by 30 percent. With personal computer makers slashing orders amid fears of a global economic slowdown, the price of mainstay DRAM chips fell to US$2.4 apiece in late August from the upper US$2 level in June.
         Tonchidot Corp. closed its Series B financing of US$12 million. Major Japanese investors from this round include mobile operator KDDI, media conglomerate Recruit, and mobile advertising company SPiRE. Japanese venture capital firm, JAFCO also contributed along with Series A investors DCM and ITOCHU Technology Ventures. Proceeds from the funding will be used to drive global expansion of Tonchidot's new AR gaming platform. Tonchidot launched its flagship product Sekai Camera for iPhone in 2009. It launched its beta version of the industry's first AR social gaming platform called "SoLAR."
         Intel Capital, the investment unit of Intel, said that it has invested US$20 million in a wireless technology joint venture with KT Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. The investment in Wibro Infra Co., which started with an initial capital of 250 billion won (US$219 million), will be used to advance the high-speed mobile wireless technology WiMAX in South Korea. KT will expand the WiBro wireless service to 82 cities by March, covering some 85 percent of the population. The service currently covers Seoul and its metropolitan area. The expansion of wireless broadband service is designed to meet the surging demand for wireless Internet, sparked by booming markets for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablet PCs. SK Telecom will enhance the capacity of networks as more people stream videos, download multimedia content and exchange e-mails with handheld devices.
Investments/ Ventures
         South Korea's five leading conglomerates plan to set aside a special 1 trillion won (US$871 million) fund to help grow small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Samsung Electronics Co., Hyundai Motor Co., SK Telecom, LG Electronics and POSCO will set up the fund by 2012 to help technology development, train personnel and improve productivity of SMEs that provide parts, components and other services for the country's largest business groups. The move to create the fund comes as Seoul called on large businesses to do more to help SMEs and to share economic gains that have mainly benefited conglomerates.
      Samsung Electronics Co. ventured with Virgin Media Inc. to expand its presence in Britain's 3D TV market. Virgin Media will use Samsung's 3D TVs to display its 3D content, as the company began offering 3D TV service in the European country. Virgin media provides broadband, television, phone and mobile services. Samsung's partnership with the British cable operator signals another 3D TV battle in Britain. Samsung's domestic rival LG Electronics, merging with Virgin Media's rival BSkyB Ltd., begins its 3D service in October. Virgin Media, which has 3.9 million video-on-demand subscribers, kicked off 3D movies on demand. Samsung accounted for 73 percent of the British 3D TV market as of August.
         According to Digitimes, China ended August with 823.06 million mobile subscribers, up 1.10 percent from July and up 15.84 percent year-on-year. User penetration stood at 60.5 percent. There were also 302.34 million fixed-line subscribers, with a penetration of 22.9 percent.

         China Telecom launched two internet data centers, one in Hong Kong and one in Singapore. The company has invested HK$200 million (US$25.8 million) in the data center expansion. The two data centers are said to complement the company's existing 260 data centers interconnected in 280 cities across the globe. The data center in Hong Kong coves 27,000 sq feet, while the Singapore data center covers 3,500 sq feet.
         China Telecom is looking for overseas acquisitions and is in talks with three Indian telecommunications firms to establish a cable connection between China and India. China Telecom is awaiting approval from the Indian government to establish a representative office in New Delhi. The company ventured with Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, and Tata Communications to establish a cable connection over land between the countries. The company will seek for opportunities to expand through acquisitions in the Asia Pacific region.
         ZTE Corp. will invest a total of 316.5 million yuan (US$47.2 million) in two new venture capital funds. ZTE will invest 300 million yuan (US$44.8 million) in the ZTE Venture Capital Fund in high-growth industries supported by the industrial policy of the state. The fund will center on technology, media, and telecommunications, with at least 70 percent of its investments to be in those sectors. The ZTE Venture Capital Fund will be a 1 billion yuan (US$149 million) fund, with the remainder of its capital to be raised from specific investors, including institutional and individual investors. ZTE will invest 16.5 million yuan (US$2.5 million) to establish ZTE Capital Management Co., which will engage in the raising and management of venture capital funds.
      According to Asia Pulse, China's software industry's revenue increased 29.8 percent year on year to 828.6 billion yuan (US$123.832 billion) in the first eight months of 2010. The industry accomplished software business revenue of 105.5 billion yuan (US$15.8 billion) in August. Revenue from value-added information technology (NYSE:IT) services posted outstanding progress in the first eight months of 2010, and revenue from software design and development showed a robust rebound. In the first eight months of this year, software business revenue growth in eastern China rebounded rapidly, while that in western China climbed slowly. China's software export value grew at a slow pace in the first eight months of this year, and the outsourcing service export value showed steady development. 15 sub-provincial cities accomplished software business revenues of 430 billion yuan (US$64.2 billion) in the first eight months of 2010. Revenues from the software industry in five cities posted year-on-year growth of over 40 percent.

Disclosure: Author holds no positions in the stocks mentioned