Pressures of work have made this BLOG intermittent over the past few weeks. Sorry about that.
Pressure of holiday will keep me off it over the next week. I'm afraid I'm not one of those who will be blogging about how to blog while I'm on holiday. I will, though, tell you where I'm going...Krabi in Thailand. Can't wait...I look forward to relaxing and encouraging my sons to climb these cliffs, dive in the Andaman Sea and do all those good things.
If you're interested in more news about Krabi, there's a nice, simple web site here.
Happy New Year to you all and best wishes for a wonderful 2006...
Saturday, December 31, 2005
Pressures of work have made this BLOG intermittent over the past few weeks. Sorry about that.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 1:18 p.m.
Friday, December 30, 2005
For 10 years now, the developers of the Internet have been ducking and weaving the sales tax issue. It has been creeping in, but large tracts of the Internet have remained free of the sticky and unwelcome fingers of politicians and bureaucrats. It's only a matter of time before they close in and India may be just prove to be the front line.
According to ContentSutra.com, Google India has just discovered the unquenched enthusiasm of the country's bureaucrats for collecting early and often, particularly if you look like a fat-pocketed foreigner. The sinister-sounding Authority for Advance Rulings has apparently decided Google "will have to pay service tax for selling advertisement space on its search site to Indian entities" the post says.
Like most such rulings, the potential for confusion is obvious. I quite agree with the writer, S. Karat who says "I would say it's too early to tax a fledgling advertising business. The business models are yet to be clear here, while the tax department seems to be in a hurry to tax ads on search engines. Does that include adsense and adwords too? I doubt if the tax department would be clear on that".
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:12 a.m.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I will fall back on the time-honoured short-cut of newspaper editors in the holiday season: when news is short and your writers are on holiday, print more pictures. I will refrain from calling this a year-end round-up, that would be too dull.
Just before Christmas, the 70,000 sq. metre (750,000 sq. ft for those of you in N. America who can't give up your feet and inches habit) Phase 1 of Hong Kong's new exhibition centre, AsiaWorld-Expo opened. I was involved with the initial planning phase and visited the bare site at Hong Kong International Airport in the middle of 2003. So, I thought a little before and after might be of interest:
Look out for the celebratory CEO in one of my opening ceremony pics. A prize of my mother's Christmas pudding recipe to anybody who spots him. CLUE: It's not the man with his mouth open in the picture which features my colleague Kim Cheng.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:10 a.m.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Back in October, we talked about Alibaba.com turning up the heat on Ebay in China with its taobao.com site. Now, we see from the ChinaStockBlog that the heat is beginning to have an effect. EBay is dropping charges for opening 'stores' within its China system. As taobao.com has promised free service through 2008, that may not be the last charge that Ebay has to drop in China to attract small business users. Once they're both free - what do you bet? 6 months - then taobao's traffic-building approach will begin to look the smarter of the two.
Is Meg Whitman going to be spending her Christmas holidays in China too?
Update: More on this at Red Herring which quotes Jack Ma as saying this "too little, too late. The game is already over.”
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:45 a.m.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
In one of the more interesting moves by a Hong Kong-based exhibitions company of late, Kenfair has announced that it has signed an MOU with the Bahrain Convention & Exhibition Bureau ("BCEB") agreeing to launch a Middle East version of its "Asia Expo" series there in 2006.
Kenfair's chairman, Herbert Ip, who signed the MOU is reported as saying "The MOU we signed not only mark the beginning of collaboration between Kenfair International and the BCEB, but also serves as testament to Kenfair's earnest efforts to grow its business and international reach".
Kenfair still derives a high proportion of its revenues and profits from its October Gifts and Housewares exhibition in Hong Kong, the "Mega Fair". It has made a number of efforts to diversify with launches of its Asia Expo into other markets including London, Las Vegas and Warsaw, Poland. This effort is picking up pace as the opening (tomorrow) of AsiaWorld-Expo in Hong Kong sees new competition in the form of Global Sources' China Sourcing Fairs in the key spring and autumn time slots.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:42 a.m.
Friday, December 16, 2005
As the bidding process for Singapore's new (don't call them casinos) Integrated Resorts heats up, Las Vegas Sands has become the latest company to tie the knot with a new Singaporean partner. City Developments is a property developer who will presumably add some local clout to the Sands Group's bid as they vie to add a second string to their Asian bow.
We report on this because, like their Venetian Macau project, the Bayfront Marina IR in Singapore (as opposed to the other one on Sentosa Island) will include a convention and exhibition centre....right next door to the existing Suntec City development. We most recently reported on the Venetian's success in building up its exhibitions calendar two years before it opens its doors. We also talked back in June about how this development is making the industry in Hong Kong nervous.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 1:05 p.m.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
No sooner have we reported on Reed's increased seriousness in China than we hear more news from India too. Exchange4media reports that Reed Business Information from the US has formed a new joint venture with Infomedia India Ltd. The company's press release says that the JV will be 51:49 in Reed's favour and will license over 100 titles.
Infomedia was previously a division of the Tata empire of companies. It was spun off in a management buyout, backed by investment bank ICICI and is now listed in Mumbai. Its other titles include Infomedia Yellow Pages and special interest magazines like Better Photography, OVERDRIVE, AV MAX, Search, IC CHIP and Auto Monitor.
This is Reed's second foray into India this year. Back in September, we reported that JCK was launching a New Delhi edition together with InterAds.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 2:58 p.m.
The announcement that Reed Elsevier has appointed Henry Kissinger's key China adviser as the chairman of its China business sends a clear signal of just how seriously the company is looking at the Middle Kingdom. The position is a new one and Shan Mei can be expected to be using the political connections built up over 20 years working for Kissinger to try to ease Reed's way through the minefields of China's regulatory environment.
Mei will be based in Beijing and report to Reed Elsevier's Chief Strategy Officer, Nick Baker.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:27 a.m.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
The news that Business Week is shuttering its separate Asian (and European) editions will come as no surprise to many. We have written here and in other publications about the challenges of English language regional print media. With Asiaweek and the Far Eastern Economic Review gone as news publications, there are very few left.
Local language editions in the bigger markets seem to work and the reports say that the Chinese and Indonesian editions of Business Week will survive. Presumably McGraw Hill will want to push forward with its plans for an Indian edition as well.
One interesting detail not mentioned in the IHT story linked above has been picked up by Crain's B2B when it says that the print editions will be replaced "with special European and Asian online editions". This confirms a trend that we have been spotting for a while. While digital and online editions of print titles have been slow starters in domestic markets, particularly in the US, they appear to be an effective way of reaching small but influential international readerships.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:16 a.m.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
We reported back in October about Westbridge doing a pre-IPO funding exercise with Times Internet, the online arm of what is arguably India's most powerful newspaper group, Bennett Coleman. There have been some good insights in the past few days from the always-interesting ContentSutra.com about the jockeying for position between western VCs for these types of deals.
It seems that Sequoia Capital got squeezed out. The bubbly nature of the Internet market in Asia's key developing centres, China and India, is clearly indicated by this phrase:
The truth is TIL changed its plans to raise funds now, as it thought it could get better valuations at a later stage.
There is an update on the story today reporting an official announcement from Westbridge on its part in the deal.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:33 a.m.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
In a surprise move, it has been announced that the President of Beijing's largest exhibition centre...and one of the rising stars of the Chinese exhibitions industy....Liang Wen, will be leaving CIEC in February to become the head of CCPIT's Brussels office. Liang's position as President of CIEC will be taken by former CCPIT Secretary-General Dong Songgen.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:42 p.m.
Monday, December 05, 2005
John Battelle may have found quite some fame with his Google book "The Search" but he is still blogging actively on a variety of interesting topics surrounding search. We just noticed an interesting snippet from the end of last week in which he notes the Yahoo! has displaced Google as the default search engine in new, Asian versions of the Firefox browser.
We had already noted how Alibaba.com's Jack Ma, newly in charge of Yahoo's China business, has described the coming battle as focused on search. This Firefox decision to go with Yahoo! is a small skirmish in the build up to the big fight but we shall follow it all with interest.
P.S. I switch back and forth between Safari on the Mac and Firefox. On my PC, Firefox is now the default browser, a move which has reduced Spyware infections by a factor of around 20.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 12:40 p.m.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
News from India that Cybermedia has now done a deal with Expomedia, the UK/Moscow-based exhibitions company. The release says that the 10-year joint venture agreement will see the two companies "collaborating on the organisation of new International events in the ICT and Life Sciences arena". The first events to be launched will be ‘The Internet Communications Technology Show’ and the ‘Life Sciences Event’ which will be held at the Expomedia Group's newly-opened EXPO XXI Centre in New Delhi.
It's been a busy year for Cybermedia which listed on the Mumbai stock market earlier this year and entered into a JV with CMP Media on outsourcing titles. CEO Pradeep Gupta even managed to find time to involve himself in the movie business.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 12:46 p.m.