RealTime IT News

America Online Competes With Largest Australian ISPs, Portals

After a 12-month beta test, the world's largest online service, America Online, is expected to make a splash in the Australian market, where 970,000 households are serviced by more than 600 ISPs.

In almost every other market where it has launched, AOL has quickly become one of the top two Internet providers. AOL will go head-to-head against Australia's two largest ISPs - Telstra's Big Pond and OzEmail.

"We hope that the tremendous amount or brand loyalty that AOL achieved in the U.S. is equaled here," AOL Australia chief executive John Cookson said. AOL's Australian operation is a joint venture with German media giant Bertlesmann AG.

Singapore Plans to Open Up ISP Market to Unlimited Number of Players
Singapore's Communications Minister Mah Bow Tan recently announced that the government would license an unlimited number of new ISPs.

Singapore's existing ISPs--SingNet, Pacific Internet and CyberWay--are reportedly in talks with one another, as well as with foreign parties, to "digest the implications of the move."

WorldCom, owner of UUNet Technologies, is understood to be eyeing a stake in the Singapore Internet market. So far, only one ISP, Pacific Internet, has laid claim to being profitable. SingNet, the oldest public ISP here, said it expects profits later this year.

(Straits Times, Singapore; October 13, 1998)

Thai ISP Announces Japanese Roaming Facility, More Domestic Access
ISP Internet Thailand said it plans to expand service coverage to 38 provinces by March next year, as well as launch an e-commerce service called e-Money by the end of this month.

Internet Thailand reportedly has 41% of the market in Thailand, serving 19 provinces. In March of next year coverage is expected to reach around 64% of the population.

Internet Thailand has also introduced a new, low-cost direct roaming service for subscribers needing Internet access while traveling in Japan, in agreement with Japanese ISP Asahi Net.

(Bangkok Post; October 14, 1998)

America Online to Target Hong Kong After Australian Debut
America Online is expected to be follow its Australian debut soon by the opening of AOL operations in Hong Kong.

To support AOL in Australia, Compaq Computer and IBM are now delivering their computers with a free AOL disk that offers a free trial period of up to 100 hours. Much the same is expected to happen in Hong Kong.

Since Hong Kong is the most price-conscious market in the world, it remains to be seen how AOL will price its access and content offerings for the local market.

(Hong Kong Standard; October 15, 1998)

Apple iMac to Be Aggressively Positioned In Asian Market
"We believe the iMac is so well-positioned that computer sales in Singapore will finally outstrip television sales," said Graham Long, president of Apple Asia Pacific.

Some 278,000 units of the iMac have already been sold in North America, Europe and Japan. It will soon be available in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, South Korea and Thailand.

Asia contributes about 5 per cent to Apple's worldwide revenues, which amounted to some US$5.9 billion for its latest fiscal year, said Long.

(Singapore Business Times; October 13, 1998)

Web Service Launched For New Zealand Exporters
New Zealand customs broker Daniel Silva has set up a Web system for processing customs declarations online.

He says the new service, dubbed Ole (Online Exports), will make exporting easier for small and medium businesses, especially those based outside main centres. The existing Customs EDI system, used by big exporters, is apparently too advanced for many smaller companies. Customs and the Statistics Department have both expressed concerns about the tardiness and lack of accuracy in manual forms, says Silva.

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

Times of India Publishing Group Launches Portal
"We have aimed at creating an India portal site on the Internet," said Vineet Jain, managing director of The Times of India Group, at the recent launch of the publishing group's portal.

"It is the gateway to the Indian content on the Net. Its India related content is exhaustive in coverage and depth."

IndiaTimes is preparing itself for the Internet boom expected in India, pending the entry of private ISPs. City-specific news, employment services and entertainment information is available for Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Calcutta and Bangalore. Personalisation and e-commerce services are also on the agenda.

(Economic Times, India; October 17, 1998)

Lycos Plans to Launch Free E-mail, Web Pages In Japan
Lycos Japan claims to have the fastest search engine and one of the largest databases of Web pages in Japan.

It also provides news sourced from Mainichi Newspapers and Sankei Sports News.

Lycos Japan plans to offer a free e-mail service, starting in December, and specialist information services related to computing and the Internet, starting in November. It also plans to start a free personal Web site service, using the Tripod free homepage service.

(Web Vision, India; October 23, 1998)

CyberTherapy Via the Net: A Global Market
The number of therapy online services has exploded, and is estimated to be approaching 200 Web sites.

An e-mail therapy service, called Shrink-Link, was recently named as one of the most successful online commercial ventures, with more than 450 paying users in one month alone.

Sites like Therapy On-Line allow Internet users worldwide to tap into the services of qualified psychologists based in Canada, who will return personalised psychotherapeutic responses priced from C$30 per response.

(Financial Times, Britain; October 10, 1998)

Amazon Launches Book Service In Britain; Germany to Follow
Amazon.com launched its British site, Amazon.co.uk, replacing Bookpages, which was bought out by Amazon.com in April.

Amazon claims the site will offer more than 1.4 million book titles, including all British books in print (many of which are unavailable in the U.S.).

The next step in Europe is the launch of Amazon.de, a German-language site set to take over from the German bookseller Telebook, also acquired by Amazon.com in April.

(Internet magazine, Britain; October 15, 1998)

Malaysian Company to Use Java to Develop Healthcare Solutions For Rural Areas
Malaysian medical and healthcare solutions provider Cybercode plans to use the Java programming language as a healthcare solutions technology platform to raise the standard of public health in the country, especially in the rural areas.

Java Card specifications can be used as a means for security and identification in a medical or hospital environment.

"Doctors in rural areas could be equipped with thin clients or network computers to transmit and receive patients' records," said Sun Malaysia managing director Govinathan Pillai.

(The Star, Malaysia; October 9, 1998)

U.S., European Differences Over Data Privacy Could Lead to "Trade War"
The European Union's Data Protection Directive aims to give consumers control over their own personal data, which is collected and used for marketing purposes both online and offline.

But if enacted as planned, the directive will also likely hamper American firms' ability to exchange data with their overseas subsidiaries.

Peter Swire, an Ohio State University professor of law, said the new rules could lead to a trade war. Economist John Calfee predicts the directive's restrictions on advertising and marketing would harm the general public.

(Wired news; October 16, 1998)

Web Entrepreneurs Begin to Make Their Mark In Jordan
Business for companies in Web publishing and development in Jordan has soared.

Companies like CNS (Primus), Access to Arabia, Business Optimisation Consultants (BOC), and Arabist now enjoy a sizable amount of business. The companies are run by young entrepreneurs who are rejuvenating the local business environment. Some are even servicing clients in other Gulf countries, Europe and the U.S.

Unfortunately, a problem faced by the Web design firms is the cut-throat price war.

(The Star, Jordan; October 8, 1998)