Monday, February 27, 2006

Off on the road again

Vietnam this week. The trade show industry is at an interesting phase there and we'll be meeting a number of organisers and trade associations to try to get a clearer idea of what is going on. Blogging will probably be thin but we'll try to give a few notes along the way.

Watching signals

"For us, it will be a matter of watching for signals from Beijing. If they make it clear that Hong Kong is an important event for them, we'll have to be there," said a spokesman for one of the largest U.S. aerospace firms.

That quote in a Reuters round-up on Asian Aerospace makes it overwhelmingly clear why Reed has chosen a China/Asia location for the show when it moves from Singapore.

The flip side of this is restrictions on defense sales to China which will limit the range of products on show (although Hong Kong does come under a different export controls regime to the rest of China). Another company officials is quoted as noting that "This is China we're talking about, of course. So you're not going to see an F-15 flying around".

We'll give the air show stuff a rest for a while. It's been fun watching though!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Binzhou Air Show

Amid all the excitement the Reed/Singapore split, Asian Aerospace and the new Singapore Air Show (see here and here), we fear that news of the Binzhou General Aviation Expo in Shandong province, China may have slipped through un-noticed.

In case that might provoke a thought of "where" from you, I post this handy link from the Shandong provincial authorities and this one from the Ministry of Commerce.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Who to believe?


RESERVATIONS for exhibition space at Singapore's new airshow are flying in — ironically, via the very show it will be replacing.

The Singapore Airshow, to be held in 2008, will take over from Asian Aerospace (AA), which will leave for Hong Kong after 25 years here.

Singapore's plans to launch a new air show in 2008 won't undermine Asia's largest aerospace exhibition, which is relocating from its longtime home in Singapore to Hong Kong, an industry official said Monday.

Asian Aerospace, billed as the biggest aerospace and defense technology exhibition in the region, kicks off Tuesday for the final time in Singapore, where it has been held biannually since 1981.

The event will move to the AsiaWorld-Expo complex, next to Hong Kong International Airport, on Sept. 3-6 next year because of "strong, logical commercial reasons," said Mike Rusbridge, chairman of the show's organizer, Reed Exhibitions.

...and may the best man win!

Cybermedia buys into Sx2

It is rare for us to report on an acquisition by an Asian company in another part of the world. Pradeep Gupta's Cybermedia has taken a number of interesting steps on which we've reported over the last year or so (see here and here and here for examples). Its decision to acquire 20% of Sx2, the new owners of Computer Shopper magazine will be seen as a sign of growing maturity in India's B2B and technology media sector.

Since listing on the Mumbai stock exchange in May last year, Cybermedia's shares have increased in value by 71%, valuing the company today at $23.5 million at today's price of Rs102.40.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006 launches trade show programme has announced the launch of a trade show partnership programme which Senior Director Brian Wong described at the UFI Asia/Pacific Seminar in Hong Kong today as the B2B equivalent of combining and a romantic restaurant.

The announcement says:

The launch of the Trade Show Partnership Program marks an
industry turning point where, instead of regarding each other as competitors,
trade show organizers and online marketplaces work together to grow both their
A question to Wong from another speaker at the UFI event, David Cong of, would suggest that there may be a way to go still before the trust is complete although Alibaba is at pains to suggest that it has no intentions of going into the trade show business itself. Cong asked why organisers could not do themselves what does online.

Full disclosure: the release includes a quotation from me:

Industry analysts agree that with increased competition in Asia's trade
show sector, trade show organizers who adopt innovative media strategies will
have an edge over the competition. Paul Woodward, Business Strategies Group
(BSG) founder and a veteran of business development in Asia with over 20 years
experience in the region, said: ''The Chinese exhibitions industry has been
growing at over 20% a year for the past five to 10 years. It is increasingly
important for trade show organizers to distinguish the quality of their events
with much more sophisticated communications programs and doing so with the
right media partner.''

Sunday, February 19, 2006

LVS Convention & Exhibition space in China

The China Stock Blog conveniently publishes transcripts of investor teleconferences for both mainland Chinese companies and those with strong interests in the region. Browsing through the Las Vegas Sands management team's recent comments in their Q4 earnings call, we noted CFO Scott Henry commenting that there would be event space at the Group's Hengqin Island development in Zhuhai, about 1 mile away from the Venetian Macao development. Their agreement with the local government, he said:

...would allow us to build between 40 and 50 million square feet of things. Those things could be anything from hotels, to second home apartments, to club houses to commercial facilities, we have built some convention, and some exhibition space there also...

Bill Weidner also comments that some of the expressions of interest for events in Macao on which we reported back in October are now being converted into signed contracts. "‘07 ‘08 are shaping up pretty well, particularly fall of ‘07", he says.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Office of Global Internet Freedom

The US Congress has a long history of poking sticks at China. The recent mauling of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Cisco over their PRC activities has caught everybody's attention. It is no surprise then, to find the proposed Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 directed squarely at China.

For John Battelle's take on this, see here. Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey is behind the bill and his views on Google and the rest are on his own web page along with his introduction to the recent hearings titled "“The Internet in China: A Tool for Freedom or Suppression?”.

CNET points out that "Nearly every U.S. company with a Web site located in China will have to move it elsewhere or its executives would face prison terms of up to a year" if the proposed legislation is enacted. The article goes on to question how likely Smith's Bill is to be successful:

It's unclear what the prospects are for the legislation, titled the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006. While the measure is likely to draw support from some politicians from both major parties, no companion version currently exists in the U.S. Senate, and election-year politics could complicate efforts to enact it anytime soon. Also, the proposal puts American businesses at a severe competitive disadvantage with China-based firms, which are immune from such rules and can locate servers in China and offer much faster response times for Internet users in that country.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

China online advertising hits $3bn

I still find myself doing a double-take when the People's Daily Online provides me with good insights. But, it quite often does. And here it goes again with a report on iResearch Inc's latest statistics which suggest that online advertising in China topped Rmb3.13 billion (US$388 million) in 2005. The report suggests that this represents a 77% increase on 2004 figures.

Backing up my theory that print media will never reach critical mass in the B2B sector in China, I note the following sentence in the article: "The business surpasses magazine ads (1.8 billion yuan and is close to radio broadcast ads (3.4 billion yuan)".

I would also note the following section:

It is worth noticing that market proportion of traditional portals led by Sina and Sohu was on decline while research engines by Baidu and Google was on the rise obviously.

Real estate, IT products and online services were ranked the top three sources of clients. Samsung spent the most on online ads, totaling 60.35 million yuan, which was followed by China Mobile and NetEase, 41.1 and 39.13 million yuan respectively.

Asian Aerospace to Hong Kong

Speculation has been rife since we reported back in October that Reed and Singapore had fallen out over Asian Aerospace over where the event would re-appear. Three cities had seemed to be in the running. Well, local newspapers (I'll link to The Standard because it's free) are reporting this morning that Hong Kong has come out the winner.

The event will kick off at AsiaWorld-Expo in September next year although, it would appear, without a military component. Discussions are reportedly still under way with neighbouring Zhuhai (site of an existing, major China air show) for that.

Presumably Hong Kong's capacity to straddle a China position and an Asian regional role saw it win out over rivals Shanghai and Bangkok.

Now the gloves will come off as Reed goes all out to convince exhibitors in Singapore next week (at the final Asian Aerospace there) that the 'real' show is the new one in Hong Kong and not the upstart Changi International Airshow launched by its former show manager Jimmy Lau and various Singapore aviation industry interests.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Air China inflight broadband

Thanks to the asiapundit blog for pointing us to this interesting piece announcing that Air China is about to install Boeing's Connexion inflight broadband on some of it's international flights.

This raises the interesting dilemma for them about whether Connexion can be routed through the "Great Firewall".

It also reminds me of my first experience of Skype at 35,000 feet last year somewhere over Russia on a flight from Frankfurt to Hong Kong with Lufthansa (which has the wireless Connexion system on most of its long haul flights). I woke to hear a telephone conversation being carried out in hushed tones and there, a few seats away was an enthusiastic businessman wearing a headset and merrily chatting away, presumably on Skype or something similar. At $9 an hour, this is a whole lot cheaper than the $8 a minute which the inflight phones have typically charged on international flights. A very mixed blessing if you ask me....but there we go. I'm told it's only a matter of time before we suffer mobiles inflight as well. A whole new cause for air rage?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

CNET takes regional approach in China

We were interested to see China Stock Blog reporting CNET CEO's Shelby W. Bonnie's comments on the company's 10 years in China. There are a number of interesting take-aways, but 2 in particular caught my eye:

1. Bonnie speaks of the business as one over which there are some question marks: "We continue to believe that our ten-year presence in the print business in China remains a strategic asset for us". For me the "continue" is a clear sign that some people are asking questions about whether the effort is worthwhile.

2. The second paragraph talks very clearly about different positions in Shanghai and Beijing. This in interesting. Most business and technology publishers focus purely on establishing national positions. China is very large (obvious comment of the day) and very fragmented (perhaps less obvious and a crucial issue to understand in business planning there). CNET appears to accept that the businesses it has there are effective at a local level but less so nationally. Others should review their own businesses more honestly in that light.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blog Lite

I'm off tonight to London, Frankfurt and Hannover. Back in Hong Kong Saturday. Ouch! Still, one way to beat jet lag is to get back before your body notices you left!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

China & Hong Kong to top broadband leagues

Picked up an interesting site from somebody's bookmarks (sorry, can't remember whose) about Broadband usage. Highlights are:

• China will pass US in Broadband Lines by late 2006

• Hong Kong Leads Asia-Pacific Countries in Broadband Penetration (73%)

• The US fell to 19th overall in broadband penetration worldwide, and is in danger of being passed by Slovenia in early 2007.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Wall Street Journal India plans put on ice

The Dow Jones/Bennett Coleman venture to launch an Indian edition of the Wall Street Journal was announced at least two years ago. Now, one of its competitors, the Business Standard (in which the Financial Times has a stake) reports that the plan is on hold.

We have reported in the past that India's regulatory environment looked much more promising than China's. But, we have also commented before on the capacity of India's bureaucrats to scupper promising sounding deals.

In this case, it appears that a rather major bureaucratic roadblock has appeared for those wishing to launch Indian editions of foreign newspapers: the foreign companies can own up to 26% of these ventures and they can sell subscriptions. They can't, though, sell advertising to local Indian companies according to the report, quoting the WSJ's Raju Narisetti:

“Papers cannot be run just by circulation. Advertisements are essential for this business, without which it (the WSJ) may cost Rs 50, so to speak,” he said.

“If the official reason for such a policy is about the western influence then why is BBC and CNN here. Television is even watched by people who don’t read newspapers,” Narisetti said.

The current policy allows foreign news channels to carry advertisements of local companies, while foreign papers can only print a facsimile editions without any advertisements of local companies.

Friday, February 03, 2006

You deal with it...

Google Guru John Battelle posts today on the company's submission to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on China. Good, sensible stuff on the whole. The last paragraph of the statement caught our eye, though:

"There is an important role for the United States government to address, in the context of its bilateral government-to-government relationships, the larger issues of free expression and open communication. For example, as a U.S.-based company that deals primarily in information, we have urged the United States government to treat censorship as a barrier to trade."

So, when America's diplomats have finished their misguided pleadings with China's leaders on the value of the Renminbi, they can suggest that opening up the Internet is a really good idea. I'm sure Ambassador Randt and his colleagues in the Embassy will be just thrilled that Google is trying to toss them that ball.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Balanced scorecard, Boston Box, SWOT....Evil Scale?

In case you missed CEO Eric Schimdt's defence of Google in Davos, or mistook the headlines for the latest management consulting gimmick, here is a brief reprise of the "Evil Scale" comments:

"We concluded that although we weren't wild about the restrictions, it was even worse to not try to serve those users at all," Schmidt said. "We actually did an evil scale and decided not to serve at all was worse evil," he said, referring to the company's famous "don't be evil" creed.

Shared bodily warmth..

Microsoft seems to be proposing winter survival tactics in approaching the deep freeze of blogger opinion in which it finds itself in China after its decision last month to block dissident Zhao Jing's site on the MSN Spaces China site. Perhaps it takes some small comfort from Google's own embarrassment on similar issues

The Financial Times reports that Bill's boys in Redmond are proposing "a common approach to dealing with official publication restrictions in China and elsewhere". General Counsel Brad Smith is reported saying:

"This is not a single-company issue, or a single-country issue - we need principles that will drive our industry as a whole,"

Under what Mr Smith called a "more robust" policy on responding to official requests to censor bloggers, Microsoft said it would only remove blogs when it receives an official legal order. However, it said it would continue to publish material that was blocked in this way outside the country concerned.

Happy New Year

Well, we're all back work here in Hong Kong now after celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Dog. Happy New Year to you all. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The year has started here with unusually fine weather which I will happily take as a good omen.

The Chinese Internet is still full of righteous indignation about Google's decision to launch a 'neutered' version in China. Rebecca MacKinnon, whose campaign against the technology industry's complicity with Chinese censorship has been good to watch, has been following closely and taking a moderate line on this having pointed out that Google has, at least, been more open than most about what it is doing.