2006-05-19T06:12:43.676+02:00Google signed a deal Thursday with the Japanese phone company KDDI to put its search engine into KDDI’s EZ Web Internet service for its “au” mobile phones.
2006-04-28T09:17:35.573+02:00The search engine introduces a test version of its map product in four Eurozone countries.Every war plan begins with the unfurling of a map. Google’s designs on Europe are a little clearer now that the search engine has released test versions of Google Maps for France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The map products of Google and its rivals, Yahoo and Microsoft, are an important part of the burgeoning local search business, which the search engines regard as one of the last untapped reservoirs of ad revenue. The Kelsey Group predicts that the U.S. local advertising market will hit $124.8 billion in 2010. In 2005, it grossed $96.8 billion. U.S. local search and classifieds revenue is seen jumping 25 percent to $9.9 billion in 2010 from $3.3 billion in 2005. Matt Booth, an analyst with the Kelsey Group, says that maps are the shock troops in a campaign to win advertising dollars from the local market. “Mapping is the forefront of a local strategy,” he said. ‘The real revenue opportunity comes when there is rich content underneath all of the pins on the map.’Google’s improving of its map product in Europe, announced late Wednesday, follows Yahoo’s debut of satellite images on its beta map site on April 11. In October, Google announced the launch of Google Local, which blended mapping data with local information such as restaurant reviews, addresses, and movie times. The move also came one day after French President Jacques Chirac said his country would spend $2.5 billion on six technology projects including a search engine designed to compete with Google (see France’s $2.5B Tech Foray). Like Google Maps and Yahoo Maps, the beta version of Google Maps in the four European countries comes with an API (application programming interface) that allows programmers to incorporate Google Maps into web pages not connected with Google. While Google doesn’t allow developers to profit from using its map API, the API has generated a cottage industry of mashups that combine Google Maps with content that ranges from real estate to fast food finders. Mr. Booth said that the power of maps and local advertising has not been fully exploited. “The real revenue opportunity comes when there is rich content underneath all of the pins on the map,” he saidFrance’s $2.5B Tech ForayFrance plans six tech projects, including one aimed at Google; observers raise doubts.Venture capitalists in Europe said Wednesday they are skeptical about French President Jacques Chirac’s plan to spend $2.5 billion on six technology projects, including a search engine to rival Google. Mr. Chirac said technology and innovation are key to the future of France. In his announcement Tuesday, the president noted there is only one French company among the 30 global firms that spend the most on research. The United States and Japan dominate in new technologies, and Europe needs to forge ahead, he said. The huge growth of the search engine sector, for example, makes it imperative that France, along with European partners, develop a global product to rival Google and Yahoo, the French president said. The programs that will receive funding through the French Agency for Industrial Innovation include Quaero, a multimedia search engine that would be used both on computers and mobile phones. Quaero, which is Latin for “I search,” is being spearheaded by French multimedia company Thomson, France Telecom, French search engine developer Exalead, and French universities. ‘We are at war economically with the U.S., India, and China—and Europe is today the big loser.’France had hoped the German government would also contribute economically to Quaero, but no announcement has been forthcoming. However, German companies, research centers, and universities are involved. They include media company Bertelsmann’s Arvatis unit, Siemens, MediaSec Technologies, Deutsche Telecom, Thomson-Brandt, Lycos Europe, Grass Valley Germany, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, and the Universitie[...]
2006-04-13T13:46:37.586+02:00News from US:The Runaway Trade Giant As its impact on the U.S. economy expands, China is also growing less vulnerable to American pressure on key issues Nucor Chief Executive Daniel R. DiMicco sees a train wreck coming. True, Charlotte (N.C.)-based Nucor Corp., America's top steelmaker, had a banner year in 2005. But China now churns out more steel than the U.S., Japan, and Europe combined. Despite its own voracious demand, China has become a net steel exporter. More mills are in the pipeline that DiMicco complains are "massively subsidized" by interest-free loans, an undervalued currency, and export tax breaks. "If China decides to export significant amounts of steel," he warns, "there will be no such thing as competition." Advertisement DiMicco would love to see the U.S. file a complaint with the World Trade Organization to block a flood of Chinese imports. Trouble is, it's not clear that China's help to steel producers violates WTO rules. Besides, Washington does not want to bring cases it is unlikely to win. How about getting the Feds to file an anti-dumping suit in U.S. court? To succeed, Nucor would have to prove it was already damaged by cheap Chinese imports.CHINA'S GIFTS. DiMicco's angst highlights a dilemma for Washington: No one quite knows what to do about a China that is growing into a trade giant but in many ways still plays by its own rules. True, China has liberalized greatly since entering the WTO in 2001. And it came bearing gifts on the eve of President Hu Jintao's trip to Washington. China has agreed to import U.S. beef and medical devices, load all PCs sold in the mainland with legal software, and buy $16.2 billion worth of Boeing jets, Motorola networking gear, and other goods. Another cause for cheer: America's February trade deficit with China shrank by 22.7% to its lowest monthly level in a year. The moves, declared Chinese Vice-Premier Wu Yi, show Beijing's intent to cut the trade gap and "observe the spirit of equality, mutual benefit, and win-win."Yet worried execs like DiMicco see few signs of progress on the really big issues. They include China's refusal to significantly revalue its currency, its weak enforcement of rampant piracy, and its continued use of cheap credit, subsidies, and nontariff barriers to boost favored industries and companies. U.S. officials are being more aggressive in bringing antidumping suits and WTO cases when China violates the rules, but they also say it's time for China to go beyond the agreements it made in 2001 and basically grow up. "We need a more balanced relationship," says U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman, "based on the fact that China is a mature trading partner and a full-fledged WTO member."WEAK CLOUT. Balancing the relationship, though, takes clout -- clout the U.S. may not have. The U.S. lost its ability to impose unilateral sanctions once China joined the WTO. Even if the U.S. hauled China to Geneva on issues like currency, intellectual property rights, and industry policies, its chances of winning under WTO rules are slight.U.S. efforts to get China to beef up enforcement of intellectual-property-rights laws are a case in point. For more than a decade, Washington has demanded that Beijing halt the piracy of software, music CDs, and movies. China's laws are fine, and it can crack down when it wants: Witness the scarcity of knockoffs of mascot dolls for the Beijing Olympics.But due to weak enforcement, trade groups claim U.S. software, entertainment, and publishing companies lose billions in China due to illegal copies. While Beijing announced a 14-point plan on Apr. 11 to crack down on pirates, skeptics say the U.S. shouldn't back off until it sees results. Says Dan Glickman, CEO of the Motion Picture Assn., which leads Hollywood's antipiracy fight: "On these issues where China really has not responded, I think the best leverage is the WTO."Is it? Even if the U.S. does file a case alleging inadequate enforcement, there's no guarantee it will win. That's because the WTO lacks clear standar[...]
2006-04-11T16:19:55.360+02:00China has actively pushed forward intellectual property protection in a responsible way and deal with IPR disputes with relevant parties in a cooperative manner, said China's Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday.
2006-04-07T00:18:16.596+02:00The online payment system PayPal officially announced “PayPal Mobile,” the company’s text-based cell phone service, at a wireless convention Thursday.PayPal’s interest in a cell phone service has been anticipated by industry watchers, as the U.S. wireless industry tests the idea of one day turning the cell phone into an “m-wallet” to replace cash, credit cards, and even apartment keys.While U.S. consumers and wireless operators have been eyeing the m-wallet and pilot-testing various systems, Japanese wireless operators like NTT DoCoMo have already run successful services that use the phone for a credit card, ATM card, apartment key, and train ticket.For now, PayPal’s cell phone service is based on text messaging that users can employ to “Text to Buy” products like CDs, DVDs, shoes, and apparel from stores that have signed up for the service.PayPal, owned by the Internet auction company eBay, has already signed on 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Bravo, MTV, and the NBA Store.Shares of eBay fell $0.03 to $38.50 in recent trading.San Jose, California-based PayPal will also enable users to “Text to Give” to charities such as Amnesty International, Starlight Starbright, and UNICEF. PayPal Mobile will also extend PayPal’s current online payment service to the cell phone, leveraging PayPal’s customer base of 100 million accounts."With the overwhelming popularity of mobile phones, the time has never been better for the merging of e-commerce and wireless devices," said PayPal President Jeff Jordan in a statement.PayPal Mobile will face competition from startups such as Obopay, which has raised money from VC backers Redpoint Ventures, Onset Ventures, and Richmond Capital (see Obopay Gets $10M for M-Wallet).Secure Cell Phones With the emergence of the cell phone as a wallet, companies will spend significant time and expenses on assuring customers their finances will be safe on mobiles.Mr. Jordan pointed out that eBay and PayPal’s already established customer relationships would give the company an edge in the mobile payment industry, which relies on the security of a customer’s finances.“Our customers have already entrusted their personal and financial information to PayPal,” said Mr. Jordan. “Now, making payments is as easy as sending a text message anytime, from anywhere, for the millions of customers that prefer to use PayPal.”Users register their cell phone numbers with PayPal, and when purchasing items from the PayPal Mobile service, PayPal will call the customer back to confirm the purchase. PayPal said it will store customer information on secure servers, not on the mobile telephone, so even if the phone is lost or stolen, the user’s PayPal account remains secure.M-WalletOn Wednesday, NTT DoCoMo CEO Masao Nakamura said in a presentation that 10 million subscribers had mobile-wallet-enabled phones, 30 percent of whom are active users, and 60,000 stores are participating.Mr. Nakamura dazzled conference goers at CTIA, the largest wireless convention in the United States, with a video of “future service developments.” The video showed a subscriber paying for apartment utilities in a building lobby with a cell phone, and using a motion-sensor-based wireless network to automatically unlock doors.“We showed the demo of the [motion sensor] service to Prime Minister Koizumi and he loved it,” said Mr. Nakamura.NTT DoCoMo shares rose $0.02 to $15.01 in recent trading.But the U.S. is just starting to test text-based cellular commerce systems like PayPal’s, and so far the infrastructure for a mobile wallet world is far from complete in the U.S.Such a system needs chips in cell phones, ubiquitous wireless networks, and the cooperation of stores, financial services, customers, and wireless operators.Companies like semiconductor maker Philips and the financial service company Visa found some success with a trial of a technology called NFC (near field communications) for cell pho[...]
2006-04-05T15:59:05.070+02:00There has been a lot of news in recent months on communications equipment, much of about conaolidation. In October, 2005, corporate networking powerhouse Cisco Systems (CSCO) bought set-top box maker Scientific Atlanta. In November, phone giant SBC closed its acquisition of AT&T (T), and within a matter months announced plans to buy BellSouth (T). Then, on Apr. 2, telecom-equipment giant Alcatel (ALA) bought Lucent (LU).Even as decades-old brands disappear, a new crop of communications-equipment startups is emerging. Within days, Force 10 Networks, a maker of networking switches used by Google (GOOG) and other Net high-fliers, is expected to file documents announcing its intention to sell shares to the public, sources say. Riverbed Technology, which makes gear to speed data between corporate locations around the world, is also on the verge of filing its so-called S-1, say industry sources. Neither company would comment for this story.If they pan out, the IPOs would be the first among communications-equipment makers since 2001, analysts say. Others probably won't be far behind. Take Shoretel, which makes new-fangled Net-based phone systems that are catching on with the corporate set due to their sound clarity and extra features. "Shoretel customers talk about their office phones the way people talk about their iPods!" notes JMP Securities analyst Sam Wilson. That enthusiasm could eventually translate to a winning IPO.NO 1999. Something else that makes these fledglings stand out: They aren't really startups. Many were founded before the telecom crash, but survived -- and now boast impressive customer lists, proven technologies, and solid customer-support operations. "You now have a whole crew of companiesÂ that are ready to go, and who have VCs thatÂ want to start paying the mortgage," says Wilson.Shoretel was founded in 1998, while Force 10 and BigBand Networks, another fast-growing supplier of broadband gear, came along in 1999. "We'll see another round of IPOs, but it won't be like the 1999 era," says Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Sonus Networks, a seller of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) gear to phone carriers. "These are companies that have been working for six or seven years, and have established real footholds."Some of the small fry could get snapped up before they get a chance to go public, as bigger suppliers look to fill out their product portfolios. On Mar. 22, Lucent paid $207 million in an auction to buy the remaining assets of struggling Riverstone Technologies, a vestige of former networking highflier Cabletron Systems. PHONE SQUEEZE. Healthier outfits can also expect more phone calls. Last December, Alcatel bought a 25% stake in 2Wire, which makes home networking gear. Indeed, rumors are swirling that public companies such as Redback Networks (RBAK), Foundry Networks (FDRY), and even Juniper Networks (JNPR) could be bought (see BW Online, 3/27/06, "What's Next for Nortel"). Within two years, predicts one top investment banker, "Juniper won't be a public company."Even if they don't find themselves in the crosshairs of a buyer, some companies are likely to land lucrative distribution deals. Mature suppliers may give up trying to push internally-developed products in favor of more innovative fare. "The rate of discussions has gone way up for us, because all of the big guys have holes they need to fill," says Hammerhead Systems founder Rob Keil. "Everything is moving in the right direction for companies like us, who have customers and revenue."Not all the dealmaking among big telecom bodes well for smaller players. A buying spree by Verizon (VZ) and SBC (which has since taken the name of its former parent, AT&T) means fewer phone companies to sell to, and probably less spending on gear as these behemoths focus on cutting costs. The "service-provider market will be even more unattractive than it has been in the last few years -- and it was already pretty unattractive," says Ric[...]
2006-02-19T00:09:07.150+01:00I had an wonderful holidy in CHINA, staying together with my parents. This is an tradition for Chinese to stay and celebrate together with families during Chinese new year. During new year's holiday, People usually visit relatives,send new year greetings and have dinner with different relatives almost every day.
2006-01-10T11:01:12.176+01:00BEIJING, Jan. 10 -- China is unlikely to sell current U.S. dollar assets in its foreign reserves to diversify its holdings, the chief of research at the central bank said on Tuesday, contradicting market speculation.
2006-01-06T18:48:01.386+01:00China plans to "optimize the structure" of its record US$769 billion foreign-exchange reserves as it seeks higher returns, the country's currency regulator said.
2005-12-29T23:11:31.663+01:00Once again, it's time for SiliconValley.com's annual look into a crystal ball for technology trends in 2006. Never mind that the smartest people in tech wouldn't dare make serious predictions about what innovations will catch fire next year. We make a humble try anyway.Video -- in the form of your favorite TV dramas or Hollywood hit movies -- will come to the big screen in your living room and to the small screen on your cell phone. Whenever you want it. No need to mess around with time-shifting TV devices or mail-order flicks.Video comes to blogs to begat vlogs. For anybody who's getting tired of reading all those wordy blogs (short for Weblogs) posted on the Internet on every conceivable niche topic, video comes to the rescue. If a picture is worth a thousand words, video might be worth even more. Now anyone can subscribe to vlogs and have the latest installments automatically delivered to the computer desktop (and transferred to a portable player, such as the video iPod).Meanwhile, Internet phone calls will become more common now that major Web companies Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are making it easier to call from your desktop computer.For those of us who occasionally depart the virtual world for the real one, defending ourselves from all kinds of biological threats -- real or potential -- becomes a growth industry in 2006. Biotech companies step up to fight what could be the biggest threat of all, from nature itself -- bird flu. Other companies work to find a better, faster way to make vaccines for the wintertime flu that kills many thousands every year.Wireless networks, already common, will spread so rapidly in 2006 that it will blanket entire cities like San Francisco and Philadelphia. Although WiFi will still dominate as the most common way to connect your laptop computer to the Internet, WiMax will emerge. Already being tested extensively in the United States and abroad, WiMax can carry Internet signals across miles, rather than hundreds of feet as with WiFi.Some predict we'll live in a world served by a global WiMax network that connects us all 24/7.First there were WiFi hotspots, then hot zones. Now entire cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco are working to offer free or cheap WiFi to all their residents in 2006.WiFi is a network that provides wireless connections to the Internet, so that people can use their laptops or mobile Web phones almost anywhere. The cities' ambitious WiFi initiatives have some wondering whether WiFi will become akin to a public utility, and whether it's the government's role to administer it.But Politics aside, WiFi coverage areas are expected to grow in 2006, especially in urban areas. Already, some are eyeing WiMax technology as the next step. WiMax networks, which are being tested in the United States and abroad, can carry Internet signals across miles, rather than hundreds of feet as with WiFi.Most WiFi networks consist of thousands of transmitters installed on city streetlights. The transmitters pass data to one another and then out to the Internet using invisible, silent radio waves, in a system known as ``mesh networking.'' A mesh network is analogous to a fisherman's net laid over a city, where each knot is a transmitter. Anyone within a 250- to 500-foot radius of a transmitter can get on the Internet, provided their computer can send and receive WiFi signals.WiFi's rapid expansion can be found right here in Silicon Valley, where Santa Clara, Cupertino and Sunnyvale have all been provided with WiFi by MetroFi, a mesh networking company based in Mountain View. Internet search giant Google has agreed to provide Mountain View's citizens with WiFi. Pretty soon a person won't need wires to get online from one end of Silicon Valley to the next.2. Cell phones do everythingIt used to be that only the high-[...]
2005-12-28T13:29:39.550+01:00You now have another reason to rail against China. On Dec. 12, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) announced that China has surpassed the U.S. to become the world's No.1 exporter of tech gear.The news rounds out a year when Chinese high-tech companies raised their profile worldwide: Lenovo, China's top computer brand, took over IBM's (IBM) PC division. Huawei Technologies, the leading Chinese telecom- and networking-equipment maker, accelerated its overseas expansion. And ZTE, Huawei's cross-town rival in the southern city of Shenzhen, won new customers in developing markets in Asia and Africa, while also teaming up with Cisco Systems (CSCO). Advertisement What's behind this success? For Beijing's many critics in Washington, the answer is easy: China cheats. Whether it's by depressing its currency's value or by stealing and copying American ideas, the argument goes, the Chinese simply don't play fair. So, the critics reckon, it's no wonder China has become the world's biggest exporter of electronics. An unfair argument? Here's a look behind the hype to see what has driven China's climb.Are all of those high-tech exports really Chinese? Or are they made by companies based elsewhere that have shifted manufacturing to China?About 60% of China's exports come from foreign-invested enterprises, says Oded Shenkar, a professor at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business and the author of The Chinese Century: The Rising Chinese Economy and its Impact on the Global Economy, the Balance of Power, and Your Job. "The reality is that the higher up you go on the technology ladder, the higher the proportion of foreign players," Shenkar says.He notes that about one-third of China's $60 billion in foreign direct investment last year was for technology-manufacturing ventures. "If you talk about high-tech exports, a lot of it is driven by foreign companies." Not long ago, for instance, Taiwan was the global center for notebook PC manufacturing. Today, Taiwanese companies such as Quanta Computer and Compal Electronics are still leaders in notebooks, but all have moved their production to low-cost mainland factories near Shanghai and Hong Kong.Aren't the Taiwanese the exception?No. The same holds true for computer- and phone-makers from the U.S. Dell (DELL) produces PCs at a factory in the southeastern city of Xiamen not only for China but also for export to Japan. The U.S. giant is now building a second factory across the street from the first Xiamen plant. When that's completed, one plant in the complex will be producing machines solely for export.And Motorola (MOT) has a total of $3.6 billion invested in China. It just opened a new facility in Chengdu, the capital of western Sichuan Province. And Moto has expanded its factories in Hangzhou, near Shanghai, and in Shenzhen, adjacent to Hong Kong. It's no wonder, then, that China is No. 1. Indeed, what's surprising is that it has taken so long for it to get to this position.If so much of the money comes from abroad, are foreigners behind China's high-tech companies?Most of the managers at the big-name Chinese IT exporters are locals who rose up through the ranks domestically. But for the smaller companies in booming sectors such as chip design and e-commerce, the entrepreneurs are Chinese who have studied in the West and returned to the mainland.They're called "sea turtles," a pun on the Mandarin word for "returnees." Some 7.5% of the PhD degrees in science and tech in the U.S. are awarded to Chinese citizens, Shenkar says. And more of them are returning home after getting their degrees, now that there's more opportunity in China. Today, about 25% of the Chinese return, says Shenkar, up from 15% a few years ago.Are Chinese winning the export game because they h[...]
2005-12-28T10:42:15.800+01:00Security threats will become more sophisticated in 2006, keeping security startups and their customers on their toes. 2005 has been a banner year for cyber-villains. Thanks to hackers, some of the United States’ largest corporations, including financial services giant Citigroup and media powerhouse Time Warner, had sensitive data swiped from their supposedly secure databases. Smaller companies weren’t immune this year either, with retailer DSW Shoe Warehouse and credit card processor CardSystems, bought by Pay Per Touch in October, both victims of cyber break-ins (see Credit Cards Bar CardSystems). Data theft wasn’t the only danger in 2005. An Internet worm, Zotob, infected computers at media companies like CNN and financial behemoths like Visa in August. And email nuisances, spam and phishing, were also on the rise. Will it get better in 2006? Not really, say security experts. In fact, the threats may get worse. That’s because just as security systems become more sophisticated, the threats will become more complex and innovative—all in an effort to stay a step ahead. Looking forward, security experts see eight major trends in security in 2006. Among them, voice spam is expected to become a growing annoyance as VoIP applications become more widely used. Another concern: cyber-criminals will exploit the low levels of security in mobile communications to gain access to data in laptops and other devices. Here are the security trends to watch for in 2006: Phishing Frenzy Phishing, the practice of sending fraudulent emails to encourage users to divulge personal or financial information, will increasingly target customers of smaller organizations in 2006. Until recently, phishing victims often received email purporting to be from large banks like Citibank and Bank of America or sites like eBay. But these organizations are deploying greater security measures to combat phishing, forcing scammers to turn to smaller targets. Next year’s targets could include customers of, say, the local credit union, security experts said. Scammers will aim for residents of a specific town posing as a local financial institution, local governmental organization, or university, predicts Joel Smith, chief technology office for AppRiver, a Gulf Breeze, Florida-based spam and virus filtering service provider (see Worm Poses as FBI or CIA Email). “We are going to see more regionalized, localized targeting,” he said. “Scammers will look for subscribers of regional ISPs [Internet Service Providers] and send them emails purporting to be from the local credit union.” For scammers, the upside with such targets could be a higher rate of return. “Small organizations or targets from smaller cities may not have been as exposed to the phishing spams as larger or technologically savvy groups,” says Mr. Smith. Business Worm’s RiseBefore Zotob struck, computer attacks were often directed at home users. But this worm, which exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system, affected businesses, marking the rise of Internet criminals focused on financial gain (see Zotob Heralds Business Worm). These attacks on businesses are expected to increase next year, said Bruce Schneier, founder and chief technology officer for security firm Counterpane Internet Security. These Internet criminals differ from the hacker hobbyists who were content terrorizing home users in several respects, he said. “Hobbyist hackers looked for new and clever attacks, while criminals will use whatever works,” he said. “Hobbyists generally didn’t care who they attacked, while criminals are more likely to target individual organizations.” The big concern? This new breed of cyber-thieves will target proprietary inf[...]
2005-12-23T22:36:22.060+01:00Just as retailers in the West wrap up their busiest selling season, China is gearing up for its version of Christmas. The period when Chinese shopkeepers rake in their biggest sales comes over the Lunar New Year, which this year falls in late January. AdvertisementThe good news is that a swelling consumer class is poised to spend plenty of hard-earned yuan on electronics and cars in the upcoming holiday season and on into the new year. The bad news is that the country's consumers can be a tight-fisted, fickle lot. Everything from mobile phones and flat screen televisions to new homes and automobiles are on the extensive shopping lists of China's consumers for 2006, says a new McKinsey & Co. report. The survey of 6,000 households from 30 cities representing 60% of China's population shows just how quickly the mainland has moved from a production-driven command economy to one increasingly driven by a swelling consumer class. Indeed, China's recent revision of its gross domestic product shows that 37.8% of China's economy now derives from consumption (see BW Online, 12/16/05, "China's Even Heftier Economy" and BW Online, 12/20/05, "A New Window on China's Growth"). "What we are witnessing in China is the fastest and largest creation of a new consumer class in the history of the world," writes Kevin Lane, a partner in McKinsey's Shanghai office, in a summary of the survey. There's a lot of good news for the likes of Motorola (MOT ), Lenovo, and Samsung in the findings. For example, 15% of respondents say they intend to buy a mobile phone over the next 12 months, while 10% plan to buy a desktop PC. More than one-half "believe that home ownership is critical to financial security," and 8.5% plan to buy a new home. Eager multinationals, take note: That big-ticket purchase is usually accompanied by a flurry of expenditures on household electronic appliances. Indeed, the survey shows that 10% are planning to buy a new TV over the next year, with 8.1% going for a flat-screen version. Some 9% will buy a new microwave, while 8% report that they'll splurge on a new washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators, and even digital cameras. All told, 71% of respondents say they're likely to upgrade furniture and appliances after buying themselves a new home. GEOGRAPHICAL FACTORS. The spending spree isn't confined to the home, however. Close to half, or 43%, say that "owning a private car is their biggest dream." That's a dream 2.4% of Chinese who responded hope to realize in 2006. It's not surprising that they plan to buy new cars over the next year, given that China's auto penetration is only eight vehicles per 1,000 people, vs. an average of 104 cars in the rest of the world. While that's hard to believe when traveling the clogged and smoggy roads in Beijing and Shanghai, it's welcome news for the likes of General Motors (GM ) and Toyota (TM ). "For the Chinese, like people all around the world, the auto represents both prestige and personal freedom," says Tim Dunne, a partner at Automotive Resources Asia, a Beijing- and Bangkok-based auto-industry consultancy. "Privacy is also a big factor -- you can talk on your phone, play music, do whatever you want in your own space, when you own a vehicle." Interestingly, McKinsey's survey shows that the real buying action will happen outside China's already-saturated coastal cities, in the smaller cities of the interior. "Some products are actually on more shopping lists in rural areas and midsize cities than in the largest cities, where the market is becoming saturated," the report says. FUTURE CONCERNS. So while 10% of consumers in China's biggest cities plan to buy mobile phones in 2006, twice as many in smaller towns say they intend to [...]
2005-12-20T08:38:44.303+01:00China on Tuesday revised its GDP (gross domestic product) for 2004 to 15.9878 trillion yuan (about 2 trillion U.S. dollars), up 2.3 trillion yuan, or 16.8 percent from the preliminary figures. The country's top statistician Li Deshui made the announcement at a press conference of the Information Office of the State Council, citing the result of a national economic survey. The country has overtaken Italy as the world's 6th biggest economy. The value-added of the tertiary industry was 6.5018 trillion yuan, 2.1297 trillion more than the annual preliminary estimation announced earlier this year. And the industry's share in the GDP rose from the earlier estimated 31.9 percent to 40.7 percent, an increase of 8.8 percentage points. The increase of service sector output accounted for the largest part, or 93 percent, of that of the GDP. Li said China had long been using the Material Product System (MPS) which was developed under the centrally-planned economic system in its national account statistics until the 1980s, resulting in "very weak" statistics for the service sector. The scope of tertiary industry is turning wide and complex with a large number of units, which have no good means for accounting and statistics, he said. Meanwhile, along with the economic reform, China has seen a diversified economic development in terms of ownership, and in particular, a dynamic development of private and individual-run service activities. "It is very difficult to conduct statistical surveys as they are very scattered with frequent changes, resulting in a certain degree of under-coverage," said Li. While many new services are mushrooming, data on their activities are often underestimated, he acknowledged. Li added that some of the services affiliated to manufacturing or construction enterprises are estimated but classified into the secondary industry, while more others are neglected. The value-added of the secondary industry was 7.3904 trillion yuan in 2004, 151.7 billion more than the original data, while the industry's share in the GDP shrank from the preliminarily estimated 52.9 percent to 46.2 percent, a drop of 6.7 percentage points. "Through the survey, we are able to remove the 'water' from the statistics of the manufacturing sector, in particular, from small-sized enterprises," Li said. Analysts say some small firms, including township enterprises in the rural areas, have been exaggerating their output figures to help local governments and officials showcase their "political achievements" and seek promotion. Li said the share of the primary industry was still based on the figure from the annual preliminary estimation, as the industry was not covered in the survey. The value-added of the primary industry was 2.0956 trillion yuan, and the industry's share in the GDP was 13.1 percent, 2.1 percentage points lower than the preliminary figures. Result from the latest survey will not affect the nation's macro-economic policy, Li said. "The changes in the figures do notmean the traditional statistics have misled China's policy-making." The survey's leading group was set up under the State Council, China's cabinet, and headed by Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, with governments at all levels and concerned departments participating in the event. More than 3 million enumerators and supervisors were recruited,and another 10 million statistician and accountants from government agencies, enterprises and institutions were mobilized to participate in the survey, according to Li. More than 30 million questionnaires were collected in the survey with more than 1.06 billion records of firsthand raw data, Li [...]
2005-12-19T17:58:00.240+01:00The board of Time Warner on Tuesday is expected to add its approval of a deal that would give Google a 5 percent stake in America Online for $1 billion while allowing AOL to sell ads on the search engine’s expansive network of Internet sites. The agreement leaves Microsoft, which is expected to unveil new search technology next month, without a major ally in its battle with Google for domination of the interactive advertising industry. Microsoft had negotiated with Time Warner most of this year in an attempt to develop a working relationship with AOL, but was upstaged in negotiations that ended on Friday.Yahoo also talked with Time Warner, but pulled out during November after reports it offered 20 percent of Yahoo’s stock for AOL, a deal that would have valued America Online at about $10.6 billion (see Yahoo Denies It Bid for AOL).The Google deal values AOL at about $20 billion, excluding the anticipated revenue on both sides from increased ad sales and other non-cash sweeteners in the deal. That’s nearly a quarter of the value of Time Warner, which has a market cap of about $82 billion.For Time Warner, the agreement offers new life for AOL, which has been a problem child for the media conglomerate since the two agreed to merge in late 1999. It also gives Time Warner stronger footing in the online advertising world to complement its inventory of ads in cable, print, and other media.Several publications, including The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, said AOL will sell advertising for Google’s search results on AOL’s sites. In return, Google will promote AOL’s sites in the sponsored links in its search results. Google also will add AOL’s collection of online videos to its search results. Shares of Time Warner closed up $0.16 to $18.00 on Friday. Google climbed $7.62 to $430.15—a new record high. Shares of Microsoft dipped $0.02 to $26.90.Established TiesGoogle provides AOL with search technology. The relationship is set to end next year, but if the deal goes through, it will continue for another five years. In other words, even as Microsoft launches its biggest assault ever on search, Google will have managed to defend the greenest part of its turf for the next six years. Google, which brought in revenue of $1.03 billion last year, makes money primarily through online ads. And 12 percent of the revenue that AdSense, Google’s advertising program, generated last year came from AOL. So it wasn’t a surprise that Microsoft targeted AOL earlier this year, trying to convince it to switch to MSN’s search technology. It was at that point that Yahoo reportedly entered the fray.“If you’re large and successful, you don’t want to lose your biggest customer to your biggest competitor,” said Scott Kessler, an analyst with Standard & Poor’s. “Next year will be a big year for Microsoft and search. Really, the last thing Google wanted to see was its biggest customer bolting to its biggest competitor’s new offering.” As an investment, this move might make sense for Google, as it gets a piece of a company that is rapidly growing its revenue from online ads. What's AOL Worth?But for Time Warner, it doesn’t make too much sense, points out Tom Forte, equity analyst with Geneva Investment Management of Chicago. He believes a $20-billion valuation for AOL is on the low side. “The notion of selling a 5 percent stake to Google for $1 billion doesn’t meet my requirements for giving cash back to shareholders, not when you’re talking about a $12.5-billion stock repurchase program,” said Mr. Forte. “The upside is that it meets the requirement of the company at the end of the day as it retai[...]
2005-12-12T23:51:04.263+01:00Chinese Commerce Minister Bo Xilai has called on the United States to work with China to make a bigger "cake of trade" for win-win results.
2005-11-26T15:21:29.753+01:00Everyone knows the tragedy happened in north east China city Harbin last few days. I found one website which is following the accident every day.Let's hope all the best to people in Harbin.
2005-11-20T06:48:10.136+01:00The China-US relations have traversed a course over 30 years. It is by no means a smooth journey but full of twists and turns.Upon reflection, one may say the relations actually met three waves:The first wave: China visit by Richard Milhous Nixon.As a matter of fact, the China-US ties started from a low ebb. After the founding of P.R. China in 1949, the US Department of State issued a "while paper" giving a bitter account on why the United States lost China. Chairman Mao Zedong responded by writing the article ""Farewell, Leighton Stuart!" The ties remained frozen ever since.International situation changes, however. By the year 1972, China had long been in bad terms with what once been its "big brother", the Soviet Union, while the United States was getting a lower hand in its fight against this same superpower. It is precisely out of the need of containing the Soviet Union that China and the United States found their point of common interest. President Nixon seized the opportunity and paid China an "ice-breaking" tour, which resulted in strategic agreement between the two sides and formed a strategic triangle among the three. This initiated the first wave of Sino-US ties, which lasted until the late 1980s.The second wave: during the late Clinton administration.The China-US relations, if we say normalized through Nixon's visit, constantly lacked a strategic tone. The ties, after surviving Lee Teng-hui's US visit in 1995, climbed out of the bottom bit by bit, but headed for an unclear direction. Things turned better when, following former president Jiang Zemin's visit to the United States, president Clinton returned a visit and the two countries reached an agreement to "construct strategic partnership". This historical event directly led to the second wave in the history of China-US ties, until ties were plunged again to the bottom when the United States bombed the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia in 1999 spring.The third wave: post "September 11".The happening of "September 11" crated an opportunity for improving relations. Washington needed Chinese help in its fight against terror and Beijing responded. As a result, as former Secretary of State Colin Powell put it, the China-US relationship was "at the best period since the establishment of diplomatic relations".No doubt, during the third wave there are also friction and setbacks. A wide-spread argumentation is that China, taking advantage of US terror fight, launched attacks in all directions and slipped into Africa and South America to "nip away" US interests, and it will strengthen itself and pose a threat to the United States. Hence the "containment" theory.Meanwhile, some other Americans argue that China's development is an opportunity not only for the United States but for the world as a whole. Hence the "opportunity" theory, especially in economic and trade areas.In fact, this is only on the surface. Here the deeper reason is, along with the advancement of globalization, both China and the United States are deeply involved into each other in political and economic fields, forming a new type inter-dependence and therefore generating a strong driving force from inside to push forward the relations.It is from this facet that we see the third round of surging tide. It is in nature unlike the previous two rounds. The first two are temporary and relations could sour at any time or even immediately once the basis for cooperation vanishes; while the third one is perpetual since both sides have been deeply involved into the tide of globalization. This is crystal clear considering the intensiv[...]
2005-11-11T19:04:24.260+01:00Finland will be the first European country to open a commercial mobile television network. The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications will open a competitive bidding process for the network license on 14 November 2005. The period of application for the license will end on 31 January 2006.
2005-11-04T13:05:53.606+01:00The consumers are now able to download the latest music and related content from EMI artists to their phones in selected Free Record Shop music stores and Robert's Coffee cafes in Helsinki area, Finland. The service is called bFree.The content download is made possible with Nokia Local Content Channel Solution, CoolZone, launched earlier today. CoolZone is a local delivery channel for any digital content and uses Bluetooth technology to distribute the content to the consumers' phones in retail locations. The service is always customized according to the retailer's or service provider's own brand.The bFree service offers the consumers not only music, ring tones, wallpapers and videos but also CD and video top 10 lists, and coupons to participating stores. Once music fans enter a participating store, they can download the bFree application to their phone, enabling them to browse available content. During the trial period, content downloads are free of charge, and closely linked to existing campaigns in the store."Rich digital content is widely available and requires an efficient distribution channel. Local mobility solutions create new types of business possibilities to individuals, location owners and enterprises. CoolZone is a Bluetooth technology based content distribution system available to any retailer or location owner who wants to offer or sell digital content to their customers, and thus enhance the in-store experience," said Sakari Kotola, Director, Nokia Ventures Organization.Doug Lucas, vice president of digital development and distribution for EMI Music in Europe said: "EMI wants to make sure that fans are provided with easy access to new music and the music of the artists they love in the most direct and effective way. This deal gives us a new and innovative means of doing that.""bFree helps us appeal to customers as number one entertainment shop chain where you can experience something new each visit. With bFree we can offer contemporary extra services and campaigns as well as digital content outside our internet shop. Together with Robert's Coffee we create our customers the possibility to familiarize themselves with latest news of the music world in two different kinds of environment" said Elena Kataja, General Manager, Free Record Shop."One of the aspects of the service is using CoolZone to cross promote products to customers visiting Free Record Shop and Robert's Coffee. We have similar customers segments and locations, which gives great possibilities for that. This also fits well with our new netcup concept which enables consumers to surf Internet when enjoying a cup of coffee in our coffee shops," said Tomi Miininen, Managing Director, Robert's Coffee.The CoolZone solution consists of three elements: Nokia Local Content Channel Client software (Symbian for the Series 60 devices, Java for Nokia Series 40 and other manufacturers' phones), Nokia Service Point LCP10 and Nokia Service Manager LCM10 management system. While the service is currently Bluetooth based, WLAN will be added in the near future, as more phones will offer WLAN capability.CoolZone will be demonstrated at the Nokia Mobility Conference 2005 in Palau de Congressos de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain during November 2-3, 2005 with content from EMI.bFree is available in three Free Record Shop music stores and three Rober's Coffee cafes in Helsinki area, Finland.About EMI MusicEMI is the world's largest independent music company, operating directly in 50 countries. Its EMI Music division represents more than 1[...]
2005-11-01T05:16:46.106+01:00By Pranab BardhanThe media, particularly the financial press, are all agog over the rise of China and India in the international economy. After a long period of relative stagnation, these two countries, nearly two-fifths of the world population, have seen their incomes grow at remarkably high rates over the last two decades. Journalists have referred to their economic reforms and integration into the world economy in all kinds of colorful metaphors: giants shaking off their "socialist slumber," "caged tigers" unshackled, and so on. Columnists have sent breathless reports from Beijing and Bangalore about the inexorable competition from these two new whiz kids in our complacent neighborhood in a "flattened," globalized, playing field. Others have warned about the momentous implications of "three billion new capitalists," largely from China and India, redefining the next phase of globalization.While there is no doubt about the great potential of these two economies in the rest of this century, severe structural and institutional problems will hobble them for years to come. At this point, the hype about the Indian economy seems patently premature, and the risks on the horizon for the Chinese polity – and hence for economic stability – highly underestimated.Both China and India are still desperately poor countries. Of the total of 2.3 billion people in these two countries, nearly 1.5 billion earn less than US$2 a day, according to World Bank calculations. Of course, the lifting of hundreds of millions of people above poverty in China has been historic. Thanks to repeated assertions in the international financial press, conventional wisdom now suggests that globalization is responsible for this feat. Yet a substantial part of China's decline in poverty since 1980 already happened by mid-1980s (largely as a result of agricultural growth), before the big strides in foreign trade and investment in the 1990s. Assertions about Indian poverty reduction primarily through trade liberalization are even shakier. In the nineties, the decade of major trade liberalization, the rate of decline in poverty by some aggregative estimates has, if anything, slowed down. In any case, India is as yet a minor player in world trade, contributing less than one percent of world exports. (China's share is about 6 percent.)What about the hordes of Indian software engineers, call-center operators, and back-room programmers supposedly hollowing out white-collar jobs in rich countries? The total number of workers in all possible forms of IT-related jobs in India comes to less than a million workers – one-quarter of one percent of the Indian labor force. For all its Nobel Prizes and brilliant scholars and professionals, India is the largest single-country contributor to the pool of illiterate people in the world. Lifting them out of poverty and dead-end menial jobs will remain a Herculean task for decades to come.Even in China, now considered the manufacturing workshop of the world (though China's share in the worldwide manufacturing value-added is below 9 percent, less than half that of Japan or the United States), less than one-fifth of its labor force is employed in manufacturing, mining, and construction combined. In fact, China has lost tens of millions of manufacturing jobs since the mid-1990s. Nearly half of the country's labor force remains in agriculture (about 60 percent in India). As per acre productivity growth has stagnated, reabsorbing the hundreds of millions of peasants wil[...]
2005-10-28T15:12:51.820+02:00Flextronics fell $2.90, to close at $9.20, after saying Tuesday it expects to post a third-quarter net profit of between 15 cents and 17 cents a share. Excluding one-time items, the company forecast a profit of 18 cents to 20 cents a share, on revenue in a range of $4 billion to $4.2 billion. However, analysts had forecast Flextronics to earn 25 cents a share, on $4.56 billion in revenue. On a conference call with industry analysts, Chief Executive Michael Marks said Flextronics continues to be impacted by the divestitures of its semiconductor and network services businesses as well as the loss of European cellphone customers Alcatel and Siemens AG over the last year. The company also makes computing and other electronic products for larger technology firms such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sony Ericsson. Marks said those companies were the only Flextronics customers to contribute more than 10% to the company's revenue during the quarter. Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Michael Walker lowered his rating on Flextronics to neutral from outperform, citing the company's cellphone business issues as a main reason for his downgrade. Walker said cellphones were Flextronics' "bread and butter and the fastest growing outsourcing end market, (and) the company's biggest problem. "Flextronics is telling us that its design effort has failed to keep the company from falling behind, if not losing share to, Asian (manufacturers)." With $15.6 billion in revenue over the past year, Flextronics is the largest of the so-called electronics contract manufacturers. Its main competitors include Solectron SLR3.53, -0.05, -1.4%) , with $10.4 billion in sales over the same period; Jabil Circuit (JBL:Jabil Circuit Inc JBL29.08, -0.58, -2.0%) and Celestica Inc. But all the main companies in the sector have seen their profits shrink, or grow at very low rates due to factors such as competition from Asia and low margins. In addition to its weak third-quarter forecast, Flextronics reported a second-quarter loss of $2.4 million, to break even on a per-share basis, on $3.9 billion in revenue, compared to a profit of $98.5 million, or 16 cents a share, on revenue of $4.14 billion during the same period a year ago. Excluding one-time items, the electronics contract manufacturer would have earned $101.3 million, or 17 cents a share. However the results fell short of the estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call, who forecast a profit of 19 cents a share on $4.1 billion in revenue. The one-time items included $50.3 million in pre-tax restructuring charges, $33.5 million in charges related to closing and consolidating manufacturing facilities, and $14.6 million in amortization expenses. Flextronics said it recorded a pretax gain of $70.7 million related to the sale of its semiconductor and network services divisions. The company sold its semiconductor business to AMIS Holdings, the parent company of AMI Semiconductor, and merged its network services division with Telavie, a company owned by private equity firm Altor 2003 Fund.[...]
2005-10-28T12:11:08.283+02:00From NY timesWhen Andrew Chi-chih Yao, a Princeton professor who is recognized as one of the United States' top computer scientists, was approached by Qinghua University in Beijing last year to lead an advanced computer studies program, he did not hesitate.It did not matter that he would be leaving one of America's top universities for one little known outside China. Or that after his birth in Shanghai, he was raised in Taiwan and spent his entire academic career in the United States. He felt he could contribute to his fast-rising homeland."Patriotism does have something to do with it, because I just cannot imagine going anywhere else, even if the conditions were equal," said Dr. Yao, who is 58.China wants to transform its top universities into the world's best within a decade, and it is spending billions of dollars to woo big-name scholars like Dr. Yao and build first-class research laboratories. The effort is China's latest bid to raise its profile as a great power.China has already pulled off one of the most remarkable expansions of education in modern times, increasing the number of undergraduates and people who hold doctoral degrees fivefold in 10 years."First-class universities increasingly reflect a nation's overall power," Wu Bangguo, China's secondranking leader, said recently in a speech here marking the 100th anniversary of Fudan, the country's first modern university.The model is simple: recruit top foreign-trained Chinese and Chinese-American specialists, set them up in well-equipped labs, surround them with the brightest students and give them tremendous leeway. In a minority of cases, they receive American-style pay; in others, they are lured by the cost of living, generous housing and the laboratories. How many have come is unclear.China is focusing on science and technology, areas that reflect the country's development needs but also reflect the preferences of an authoritarian system that restricts speech. The liberal arts often involve critical thinking about politics, economics and history, and China's government, which strictly limits public debate, has placed relatively little emphasis on achieving international status in those subjects.In fact, Chinese say - most often euphemistically and indirectly - that those very restrictions on academic debate could hamper efforts to create world-class universities."Right now, I don't think any university in China has an atmosphere comparable to the older Western universities - Harvard or Oxford - in terms of freedom of expression," said Lin Jianhua, Beijing University's executive vice president. "We are trying to give the students a better environment, but in order to do these things we need time. Not 10 years, but maybe one or two generations."Nonetheless, the new confidence about entering the world's educational elite is heard among politicians and university administrators, students and professors."Maybe in 20 years M.I.T. will be studying Qinghua's example," says Rao Zihe, director of the Institute of Biophysics at Qinghua University, an institution renowned for its sciences and regarded by many as China's finest university. "How long it will take to catch up can't be predicted, but in some respects we are already better than the Harvards today."In only a generation, China has sharply increased the proportion of its college-age population in higher education, to roughly 20 percent now from 1.4 percent in 1978. In engineering alone, China i[...]
2005-10-27T14:10:53.713+02:00China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) announced Thursday morning it has successfully acquired Canada-based PetroKazakhstan Inc. (PK) through its wholly-owned subsidiary CNPCI.Wednesday morning, Canadian time, the China's largest oil producer saw its planned acquisition of PK through CNPCI was granted "unconditional" final order by the Queen's Bench Court, Calgary, Canada.CNPC's bid for PK is 55 US dollars per share, totaling 4.18 billion US dollars, the largest overseas takeover transaction ever made by a Chinese company.Lukoil of Russia, one of CNPC's major rival in the deal made noappeal, indicating the completion of all legal procedures of the transaction.To date, the transaction has been completed, announced CNPC.At local time Wednesday afternoon, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met Kazakhstan Prime Minister Danial Akhmetov in Moscow, when attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit.Both Premier and the prime minister expressed their strong support for the mutual-benefit cooperation between CNPC and KazMunaiGaz over PK after the completion of the acquisition.Kazakh Prime Minister promised to help to resolve all remained problems of PK in Kazakhstan together with CNPC after the deal is closed.Early in the shareholders meeting of PK held last Tuesday, 99.04 percent of all the voting shares were affirmative for the acquisition.According to relevant transaction procedures, the outcome of the shareholders meeting needs to be sanctioned by the Canadian court.However, in the court hearing of last Tuesday, the lawyer of Lukoil claimed that the company has the first right of refusal to buy a 50 percent stake in Turgai Petroleum, a joint venture between PK and Lukoil. In this connection, the Court postponed its ruling to Wednesday.CNPC and PK concluded the negotiation on August 21 over the transaction with the signing of the"Arrangement Agreement".According to CNPC, after two months of heavy workload, all formal approvals and legal procedures have been obtained and completed. At present, CNPC staff is working with PK and the hand-over of business is under way. Operation of PK is maintained as usual, and employees are unaffected.PK Inc is an international energy company registered in Canada,with all of its assets, such as oilfields and refineries, in the Republic of Kazakhstan. PK's total annual production capacity of crude oil exceeds seven million tons.Since its first presence in Kazakhstan in 1997, CNPC has developed good relationship with local government by strictly following local laws and regulations as well as international bestpractices of the industry.Upon acquisition, in the spirit of win-win and mutual benefit, CNPC will choose to cooperate with KazMunaiGaz, the state oil company of Kazakhstan to operate and manage the PK project, said CNPC.The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on Oct. 15,according to which KazMunaiGas will obtain a certain amount of PK shares enough to have strategic control over the development of the country's mineral resources, together with the equal right forjoint management over Shymkent refinery and its products.PK owns 12 oil fields, and exploration licenses in 6 blocks in Kazakhstan, with great exploration potential.CNPC said it is confident that taking advantage of CNPC's strength in capital, technology and management, as well as CNPC's valuable experience in Kazakhstan, the production capacity of PK will be increased,[...]