Archive for June, 2009

Sony Ericsson T715 Slider Release

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Sony Ericsson has released a new slider phone, the T715. It’s an ultra compact handset that’s got a credit card-sized footprint when closed.

Mid range in its feature set, the Sony Ericsson T715 comes packs a 3.2-megapixel camera and 3G connectivity, plus a 2.2-inch screen. It also allows for geo-tagging of photos, to give your photos that extra bit of value when you get to consigning them to the memory box. It’ll be using cell site data rather than GPS though.

Although not a desperately interesting phone, its understated style, which is not so far removed from the high-end W995, should gain the T715 a few fans. It’s available in two different colours, Galaxy Silver and Rouge Pink, supplying the phone with its ‘his and hers’ options.

The Sony Ericsson T715 will be available in the third quarter of 2009.

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China Mobile Acquiring 12% Of Taiwanese Operator

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As the atmosphere between Taiwan and China becomes increasingly friendly, on April 26 2009, on behalf of their respective governments, the two non-governmental organizations – the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits signed a declaration which, among other things, opens the doors to Chinese investment in Taiwan. Three days later Far EasTone Telecommunications Limited, one of the leading mobile operators in Taiwan, announced its plans for a strategic cooperation agreement and a share subscription agreement with China Mobile Limited, the world’s largest mobile telecommunications operator with approximately 477 million subscribers.

If approved by the authorities, the cooperation agreement will be the first direct Chinese investment in Taiwan since the Communist Party came to power in 1949. The terms of the agreements can be summarized as follows:

Under the terms of transaction, China Mobile will acquire over 444 million new Far EasTone Telecommunications shares, issued through private placement, representing 12% of Far EasTone Telecommunications’s enlarged capitalization, in a transaction worth approximately NT$17.77 billion (US$533 million) – equivalent to NT$40 a share. China Mobile will acquire a seat on the board of directors.
The two parties will create a joint venture in China to facilitate the provision of telecommunications services to their subscribers.
The mutual strategic development will involve joint purchases and the development of roaming services, data and value-added businesses, and upgrades of networks and technology. Under the agreement, Far EasTone Telecommunications will provide a testbed for Taiwan’s software providers and manufacturers that are interested in the third-generation (3G) technology Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access, a unique 3G standard adopted by the Chinese government.
At the time of the signing the agreements, laws remained in effect prohibiting Chinese companies from directly investing in Taiwanese business. Douglas Hsu, chairman of Far EasTone Telecommunications, expressed the hope that the deal could be done in the fourth quarter of 2009, once the new regulations governing Chinese investment can be passed.

However, a new law announced on May 25 2009 prohibits Chinese investment in Type I telecommunication operators.

Pursuant to the newly enacted Regulation Governing the Permission of the People from Mainland China Investing in Taiwan, investment by a Chinese entity representing more than 10% of the stocks of a Taiwanese listed company would require permission from the investment authority. In addition, the new regulation lists 99 industries into which Chinese entities may invest, and sets out investment quotas and investment ratios.

Under the regulation, a Chinese entity may invest in Type II telecommunications businesses (eg, data storage and retrieval or Voice over Internet Protocol service providers), but investment in Type I telecommunication businesses – including mobile telecommunications service providers, such as Far EasTone Telecommunications – is still prohibited, even if such investment is made through a subsidiary which is wholly or partly owned by a Chinese company.

In addition to the above requirements, the limitation on foreign investment provided in the Telecommunication Act still applies to Chinese investment. Pursuant to Article 12(3), the total direct shareholding by foreign entities must not exceed 49% and the sum of direct and indirect shareholding by foreign entities must not exceed 60%. However, Hsu recently stated that his company’s foreign investment would remain below this statutory cap, even after China Mobile’s proposed acquisition of a 12% stake.

Hsu further stated that Far EasTone Telecommunications is content to wait for relaxation of the restriction on Chinese Investment in Type I communications businesses, and that even if the restriction were to remain in place, China Mobile might decide to continue the investment through the Qualified Domestic Institutional Investor mechanism.

Allowing Chinese investment in regulated industries is never easily achieved. According the statutory requirements, if and when the restriction on Chinese investment in Type I telecommunication business is lifted, the agreements between Far EasTone Telecommunications and China Mobile will need approval from numerous governmental authorities. The Taiwanese authorities in question are the Investment Commission of Economic Affairs Ministry, the National Communications Commission and the Mainland Affair Council. In China, approval will be required from the State Council, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Taiwan Affairs Office.

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iphone Baiting BlackBerry For Price

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Here is a very interesting smart-phone study that primarily deals with Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone and Research in Motion’s (RIMM) Blackberry. This has nothing to do with value investing, although it does show how tech margins always compress when a hot product sees competition.

So, if you are RIMM seeing this study you have two options:
1. Lower your blackberry prices to capture value conscious buyers
2. Dramatically improve the add-on availability and functionality of the social aspects of your product.

Either of those options will cost RIMM and benefit users of their products. Apple users are very loyal no matter what the product. RIMM has very little chance of altering that barring an earth shattering product. Their choice is to now keep their users and entice those entering the smart-phone market to buy theirs over Apple’s.

With Apple lowering the price of its 3G 16GB phone to $147 in Wal-Mart (WMT), (down from the original $599 8GB price only just over two years ago), consumers ought to see even better deals in the future.

How long before a 32GB 4G phone hits the shelves for $99? Another year? RIMM needs to so something fast. Now, I discount the “loyalty” part of the equation for the Apple folks. They were this way about the company before the iPhone. What matters more here is the number of “other smart-phone” users considering buying an iPhone with their next purchase.
That means defections for RIMM and other makers. It also means they are probably busying themselves finding ways to bend over backwards to give users “a deal they cannot resist”. RIMM did drop prices last year and was very successful at capturing value conscious shoppers. Apple followed suit and based on RIMM’s most recent earnings call, that drop looks to be having an effect on RIMM going forward.

What does it all mean then? Look for more applications, better and faster phones and lower prices going forward….

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Flash For Phones Soon

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Adobe has announced that it plans to release a beta version of its Flash player for some smartphones towards the end of the year.

The company said it will introduce a beta of Flash Player 10 for smartphones at its MAX conference in October 2009, according to reports.

However, this doesn’t mean that a version of Flash for iPhone is imminent. Adobe says it doesn’t know when versions of Flash will be available for Apple’s iPhone or RIM’s BlackBerry.

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African Nations Leading In Cellphone Growth

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The African market for cellphones has shown the “fastest growth rate in the world” since 2002, according to a survey conducted by business consultancy Ernst & Young and published yesterday. “Since 2002, the African market has seen a growth rate of 49.3 per cent, where the French market has only seen 7.5 per cent a year, compared with 28 per cent in Brazil and 27.4 per cent in Asia, said the report released in Abidjan. Cellphones have penetrated 37 per cent of the potential market and this figure “could rise to 61 per cent by 2018,” it added. The study was carried out among 28 leading cellphone operators in 49 countries. The high growth rate in the sector was backed by “a boom in a raw materials and the increased liberalization of markets,” said Serge Thiemele, who heads the African sector of the Global Telecommunications Center, behind the study.

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Hero 'Google Phone' July Launch

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Smartphone maker HTC will begin selling the Hero, its new “Google phone,” in July — competing in the increasingly crowded smartphone market with Apple’s iPhone 3G S and Palm’s Pre.

The Taiwan-based company said the Hero is the first Google phone with its new “Sense” customized user interface.

The new phone has bevelled edges and an angled bottom contoured to fit against the face.

It features a 3.2-inch touch screen, coated with Teflon for smudge resistance, a built-in 5.0-megapixel auto-focus camera, GPS with digital compas and access to popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to view status updates and share photos.

The smartphone also has a dedicated search button to search through Twitter, locate people in the contact list and find emails in the inbox.

“The HTC Hero introduces a more natural way for reaching out to the people and accessing your important information,” said Peter Chou, HTC’s chief executive. “Sense is a distinct experience created to make HTC phones more simple for people to use.”

The HTC Hero is available in Europe starting in July, Asia in the summer and North America later in 2009.

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Smartphone Is Next Mobile Choice For 41% Of Consumer

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When smartphones first started to hit the market I thought I could get along with my then trusty PDA and my plain mobile phone. It didn’t take long for me to realize it was a pain to carry two devices and then when mobile internet started to become common I switched to a smartphone.

A new report from research firm Yankee Group claims that 41% of consumers will buy a smartphone for their next mobile device purchase. I can certainly see that number being accurate with the glut of smartphones on the market. The Pre just launched and we have the iPhone 3G S coming soon. The iPhone 3G is downright affordable now at $99 so the smartphone market is set for a boom.

The survey showed that 41% of consumers would buy an advanced OS phone for their next mobile purchase. Smartphone volumes are expected to grow to 38% of all handset sales by 2013. Many consumers are also looking to their mobile phones to do more than just make calls. The smartphone answers the needs for many consumers today.

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