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RealTime IT News

Japanese Internet Companies Look to Bring Newbies Online

Japanese Internet companies are turning their attention to first-time computer and Internet users, and responding to the growing service needs of Net novices in hope of building up their membership lists.

Sony Communication Network Corproation, which provides Internet connections to more than 300,000 members, began an Internet school for beginners this month in Tokyo.

AOL UK Claims Number One ISP Spot in Britain
AOL UK claims to be Britain's number one ISP, having just passed the 450,000 subscribers mark and overtaking CompuServe.

The company launched its service two and a half years ago. AOL UK draws on the resources of content providers like the Press Association, The Economist and Thomas Cook. As for other countries, AOL Japan has gathered more than 120,000 subscribers in three and a half months of operation.

(Internet Magazine, Britain; July 22, 1998)

Asian Sources Group Launches Enhanced Trade Services on the Net
Asian Sources, an Asian publishing firm, is offering Internet-based information services geared towards facilitating import-export processes.

Its Private Buyer Catalogues service, launched on July 20, allows big importers to save time in their sourcing and purchasing operations. The service includes private, tailor-made electronic catalogues, e-mail alert services, and access to U.S. importers like Seagate and Toys 'R' Us.

Asian Sources is discussing with another 35 leading firms to put their catalogues on Asian Sources' Web site. In March next year, Asian Sources will launch a simplified Chinese Web site tailored for the China market.

(Singapore Business Times; July 22, 1998)

Australian Conference Addresses Internet Impact on Call Centres
Within two to three years, online call centres will be transformed by seamless interactive voice response technology and improved video compression on the Internet, according to Carl Borchardt, Lucent Technologies regional call centre manager, who spoke at the recent Online Call Centre Conference in Melbourne.

Australia's call centre industry is estimated to be worth between $1.2 billion and $1.8 billion a year, surpassing $2 billion by the year 2000. In his conference paper, "The Internet Is Calling--How Will You Answer," Borchardt also advises companies to roll out call centres in a staged manner.

According to U.S.-based Forrester Research, 200 million electronic mail users will access online call centres by 2005, amounting to about one billion messages a day by 2005.

(Sydney Morning Herald; July 21, 1998)

Web Site to Provide Live Coverage of Sports Event in Malaysia
NetCard Corporation Berhad will have a live news feed on the Kuala Lumpur 98 Commonwealth Games (KL98) at the KL98 Web site provided by national news agency Bernama.

NetCard is the official host and developer of the KL98 Web site. Bernama, which was appointed the official host news agency by KL98 organisers Sukom Ninety Eight Berhad, will supply news coverage on all aspects of the event; these will be processed by NetCard and displayed online.

"The news feed will be filtered automatically into the relevant categories and will be updated throughout the Games," said Leong Seang Keat, NetCard managing director. News reports will be available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.

(The Star, Malaysia; July 21, 1998)

Report: XML/EDI Combination Holds Key to E-Commerce
According to a report, "Opening The Market," by international researcher Ovum, the next generation of e-commerce solutions will fuse today's methods of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), which focus on process efficiency between supply chain partners, with searchable information via a Web interface using eXtensible Markup Language (XML).

"XML/EDI points the way to the next generation of integrated supply chain applications," said Ovum analyst Beth Barling. "The future of EDI will be influenced by how quickly and easily it can overcome the traditional obstacles to adoption," according to Barling.

(The Australian; July 21, 1998)

New Zealand Banks Reserved About Online Offerings
New Zealand banks seem reluctant to give too much away about their plans.

The notable forays into the online banking market in New Zealand have been ASB Online, its subsidiary Bank Direct, and Countrywide, all of whom have some level of personal banking available through the Internet.

Westpac Australia is already running a Web-banking service, but its New Zealand subsidiary is still working on a site. National Bank also intends to offer online banking within the next six months, but has not commented further than that. Within the next 12 months ASB bank will be offering services such as a multiple bill-payment service for small business customers.

(InfoTech Weekly, New Zealand; July 20, 1998)

U.S. Online Financial Services Companies Move Into Europe
More and more Europeans are logging on to the Web to shop for financial products, retrieving detailed financial information and buying and selling shares.

U.S. Internet brokers began moving into Britain and are increasingly setting eyes on the rest of Europe. In April, Charles Schwab started an online trading service in Britain; in June E-Trade announced a joint venture with a British partner, as well as licensing agreements in Germany.

In Britain, more than 12 million people, or about 20 percent of the population, are expected to be using the Internet by 2001, sharply higher than the 5.5 million at the end of 1997, according to the market analysts IDC Research.

In Germany, banks including Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Bank operate all-electronic banks, and the main activity is stock brokerage. In Britain, Barclays PLC, one of the largest banks with 2,500 branches throughout the country, will introduce its online brokerage service in September, complete with financial information and a real-time share trading service.

(New York Times; July 20, 1998)

More British Record Labels Begin to Sell on the Internet
Polydor, one of the Britain's largest record labels, joined the growing number of record companies selling music over the Internet.

Many big U.S. record labels added mail-order to their Internet sites last year, but their British counterparts only recently followed suit. Island Records, another PolyGram subsidiary, became the first British label to sell via the Net in February.

Market Tracking International, the research consultancy, recently estimated the value of music sold online would rise from $87 million this year to $3.9 billion, or 7.3 per cent of total sales, in 2005.

(Financial Times, Britain; July 17, 1998)