RealTime IT News

International Briefs

March 17

Microsoft in New Media Venture Down Under
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said Australia will be the test bed for the software giant's global Internet strategy.

The company last week announced a joint venture with Kerry Packer's Publishing & Broadcasting Limited , owner of the Nine Network.

Microsoft and PBL formally launched the "ninemsn" project last week.

The operation employs around 100 staff, and publishes content from Packer's Nine Network and ACP Magazine Group as well as the Microsoft Network.

(Australian Financial Review; March 17, 1998)

U.S., Europe in Row Over Internet Addresses
A U.S. proposal to reform the system for allocating Internet addresses has caused a transatlantic debate over who should guide the global computer network into the 21st century.

The EC has accused the United States of not doing enough to involve other countries in its plans.

The American move has heightened fears in Europe that the U.S. wants to maintain a kind of hegemony over the Internet.

(Straits Times, Singapore; March 16, 1998)

C NET in Partnership With Singapore Company for Asian Distribution
Singapore startup Tricast is bringing U.S. infotech content provider C NET's services via the Web and TV to Asia.

C NET's Singapore Web site, its first Asian Web site, will be launched this week. The Hong Kong Web site will be launched in two weeks, and the Malaysian and Taiwanese Web sites are scheduled for launch within two months. C NET's Thai Web site will reportedly launch later this year. The sites will be in English and a local language.

C NET will also be broadcast by at least one TV broadcaster in Malaysia this year; it is already showing on Singapore CableVision, a cable TV network in Thailand, and a business TV channel in Taiwan. The Newsbytes wire service has agreed to provide Asian IT news to C NET's Singapore Web site.

Tricast was founded last year, partly funded by Taiwanese venture capital firm AsiaTech Ventures.

(Singapore Business Times; March 16, 1998)

Chinese Internet User Base Reaches 620,000
The Internet user base in China has increased to 620,000 from less than 20,000 five years ago, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

A report by the Data Communication Department of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said about 300,000 computers in China are now wired to the Net.

The number of Internet subscribers was expected to more than triple to top two million by Year 2000, and seven million by 2001.

(Singapore Buisness Times; March 16, 1998)

New Joint Venture to Bring Internet Media Services to Asia
Richard Li, chairman of the Pacific Century corporation and the younger son of Li Ka-shing, the powerful Hong Kong tycoon, announced a joint venture with Intel to develop Internet and other digital interactive services across the Asia-Pacific region.

Li built Star TV into Asia's largest satellite television broadcaster and then sold it to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for US$950 million.

Li is undeterred by the current economic crisis in Asia. "In many ways, this downturn has signalled the need to move from traditional capital/labour-based societies to an information society. Information flows are essential to go forward, as well as avoiding losses," he said.

The new company will be called Pacific Convergence Corporation. For Intel, the deal is similar to the company's European partnership with Astra, the satellite broadcaster. Competition for the new venture will come from America Online's alliance with China Internet Corporation in Hong Kong.

A study last year by Salomon Smith Barney predicted that the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, would see Internet subscribers rise from 2.7 million in 1996 to 25 million by 2002.

(Financial Times, Britain; March 13, 1998)

Activist NGO Web Sites Spread Alternative News, Bring About Change
Given that the key weapon of activist NGOs (non-governmental organisations) is information, and their battleground is the hearts and minds of the citizen and, increasingly, the global consumer, it is hardly surprising that they have spent a good deal of time and resources understanding and using the Internet.

Internet-led boycotts are partly responsible for the fact that Pepsi Cola no longer trades in Burma--nor do Levi Strauss, Heineken and Carlsberg.

Prominent activist sites include the Free Burma Coalition, Control Rosk Group, and GreenPeace.

>From the lessons learnt during its bruising encounter with GreenPeace International over its activities in the British North Sea and Nigeria, Shell Oil revamped its Web site to include multiple points of discussion and information--precisely over the issues it had hitherto been seen as reticent on.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; March 12, 1998)

Malaysia Tries to Keep Teens Away from Internet Porn
Malaysian authorities are scrambling to keep teenagers from what is perceived as the vices of cyberspace.

Megat Junid Megat Ayob, consumer affairs minister, called for strict monitoring of Internet cafes to prevent youth "from poisoning their minds with filth."

In Petaling Jaya, cybercafes will be required starting in April to give authorities the equivalent of about $5,100 as a guarantee that their screens stay smut-free.

Linking Malaysia's economic downslide to currency speculators who sold trillions of dollars with the push of a button, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad has cautioned young people of the "damaging consequences" of "technology without morality."

Mahathir urged universities to couple technology classes with instruction of morals and ethics.

(Associated Press; March 12, 1998)

U.S., European, Asian Officials Address Global E-Commerce at Summit
At the recent Global Information Summit, government officials, corporate managers, and cyber network specialists from the U.S., Europe, and Asia urged promotion of electronic commerce and other Net-related activities to spur world economic growth.

The 22 participants agreed on private sector cooperation to establish telecom infrastructure and train personnel, mainly in Asia; protection of personal information; and lower phone rates.

The conference was organised by Nihon Keizai Shimbun. A Japanese speaker pointed out the importance of lowering phone rates and spreading cyber networks into the educational field.

(Nikkei Weekly, Japan; March 11, 1998)

Sun to Target 50 Perent of Revenues Via Internet
Sun Microsystems said it will take 50 percent of its orders electronically by the year 2000.

According to Sun Microsystems Internet and Electronic Commerce Marketing Director Dannie Tsu, Sun plans to hit 15 billion in revenue by the turn of the century.

To date, around 25 percent of the company's orders are conducted online. There are around 300 electronic commerce software vendors and packages under the Sun umbrella.

(Bangkok Post; March 11, 1998)