Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:40 pm
Monday, October 30, 2006
I'm in Rhodes, Greece for the annual convention of ICCA, the convention industry association. They're tickled to have attracted over 800 delegates. Strong delegations here from Korea and Thailand. I'm surprised that nobody from Macau made it given that the Venetian's opening date is now just 12 months away.
Leigh Harry of the Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre is taking over as the organisation's new President while Pattaya Thailand will host its 2007 Congress, so plenty of Asia/Pacific interest. I'm talking on the region on Wednesday afternoon.
In an interesting session this afternoon led by a Dutch magician (those wacky Congress guys!), the delegates voted on the issues of most concern to them. Top of the list for all parts of the world were the proliferation of facilities and competition. There was me thinking that was just Asia.
Last nights opening reception was hosted in the Palace of the Grand Master (all very Da Vinci Code), pictured here.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:03 pm
Saturday, October 28, 2006
I've become a great fan a limited number of podcasts. I particularly like Stanford's Draper Fisher Jurvetson-sponsored Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Seminar series (available from iTunes). They're about an hour long and help to pass long flights in an interesting way. Yesterday, I was listening to KLA-Tencor's Rick Wallace who commented "The essence of strategy is what you are not going to do".
So, this report of Yahoolibaba Jack Ma's speech in Shanghai last week caught my eye. It seems as though Jack did his usual job of charming the crowd. I was particularly interested to note the following:
- He will never enter the online gaming business because he thinks it's bad for kids;
- His vision for Alibaba is to help create a million jobs for Chinese people;
- He decided to buy Yahoo because he thinks that search will become critical to the future development of online commerce websites such as Alibaba, Taobao and eBay;
- During the Q&A, an audience member asked him what he felt about online dating sites; he said that Alibaba could possibly enter that business because it fulfilled a real need and could make people happy.
For Chinese readers, it also points to Jack's own blog.
Update: the same conference, with flattering references to Jack, is also blogged by Shaun Rein here.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:24 am
A bit of weekend trivia for you: I set up my company just over 6 years ago and have really enjoyed the process. I stumbled today across Pamela Slim's "Escape from Cubicle Nation" which seems like an altogether better topic for a blog than many.
I particularly like this 'playlist' of songs for entrepreneurs. I shall enjoy trying to come up with 10 of my own. How about Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" for starters or Mable John "Ain't Giving it Up".
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:39 am
A couple of pieces on contentsutra.com suggest that a large portion of e-commerce in India currently relates to travel:
Three-fourth Of Indiatimes’ E-commerce Accounted By Travel Products: Indiatimes is the website linked to what is arguably India's most powerful newspaper company, Bennett Coleman & Co., the publishers of The Times of India.
Expedia looking for country head: The report notes that Expedia is setting up shop in India, most probably in the first quarter of 2007.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:26 am
Friday, October 27, 2006
Two interesting snips yesterday showing that there are many companies out there who would like a bit of Alibaba.com's action (and the HC360 pie perhaps). Firstly, the launch of the oddly-named Yaphon B2B alliance which claims:
Being a Chinese B2B professional organization that enjoys the most abundant trading resources and attracts the most types of industries to participate, the establishment of Yaphon B2B Alliance marks the end of separate operation of online trading by individual sites.
That last claim is pretty radical. The CCP Propaganda Department-style phrasing, though, raises some suspicions about the provenance of this initiative. It goes on to claim:
Before this, Alibaba.com occupied a big share in China's B2B e-business market. However, the establishment of ''Yaphon B2B Alliance (B2B Alliance)'' also indicates that the Chinese B2B market has begun to combine the advantageous resources and demonstrate Chinese suppliers to overseas buyers in an organized way.
I somehow doubt that Jack and the boys in Hangzhou are quaking in their boots just yet despite the way in which that first sentence seems to imply their imminent demise.
Elsewhere, the Shanghai Daily reports on MFG.com's entry into the Chinese marketplace:
THE world's leading Internet marketplace for industrial products put its Chinese site online yesterday to help its overseas members, including some on the Fortune Global 500 list, find cheap made-in-China industrial parts.
Some interesting claims on pricing and potential audience here from a typically optimistic-sounding American boss, Mitch Free, apparently new to China:
Currently there are only about 100 Chinese companies paying US$5,000 a year for its service. But it said thousands of other Chinese suppliers had registered for a free three-month trial. Most of them were small- and medium-sized companies, according to Free.
Its unified flat membership fee is cheaper than that of the international trade site of Alibaba.com, which charges between 60,000 yuan (US$7,500) to 200,000 yuan a year.
I'm not sure he's comparing like with like here and may wish to look to his surname for what Chinese suppliers really prefer to pay.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:24 am
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:12 am
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
I'm not quite sure where this puts you all in the greater scheme of things, but a full 22% of your are using Firefox according to my usage stats. With 2% using Apple's Safari and another 1% on Opera (you non-comformists you), that leaves just 75% share for various iterations of IE. 2% of you are already on IE 7.x. Very brave, very brave.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:18 pm
The spiffy new-look Contentsutra.com site reports that Cybermedia's JV jobs board with Dice made an operating loss of Rs14 million (a touch over $300k) for the first half of this financial year.
Cybermedia's own CIOL.com reports "an increase of 24 per cent in its total income to Rs26.30 crore (US$5.8 million) from Rs 21.28 crore recorded during the same quarter last year.
During the 2nd quarter, the company says, its Global Services JV with CMP "achieved 32,000 opt-in subscribers and eight new clients".
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:54 pm
I enjoy seeing where the readers to this blog come from. A snapshot of the last 20 shows:
1 Hong Kong Central District
2 Turkey Ankara
3 Turkey Eskisehir
4 United Kingdom Milton Keynes
5 United Kingdom Aberdeen, Aberdeen City
6 Italy Milano, Lombardia
7 Spain Vehinat De Esclet, Cataluna
8 United States Nashville, Tennessee
9 Hong Kong Central District
10 Ukraine Kiev, Kyyivs'ka Oblast'
11 Hong Kong Central District
12 United States San Diego, California
13 United States
14 Ukraine Kiev, Kyyivs'ka Oblast'
15 Hong Kong Central District
16 Germany Knig, Hessen
17 Hong Kong Central District
18 Hong Kong Cheung Sha Wan
19 Germany Hamburg
20 France Paris, Ile-de-France
Google, ever helpful, suggested that I must have meant to type "King Hussein" when I was searching for Knig, Hessen to find out where it is. Still none the wiser.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 7:57 am
China Search News Roundup writes: "Baidu CTO resigned: Jerry Liu, CTO of Baidu, announced today that he will resign from Baidu, which will take effective on December 19, 2006. Jerry Liu joined Baidu in January 2000, he is first employee of Baidu besides founders of Baidu. The news said that he will consider to run his own startup later.
Baidu anti-virus channel: Baidu launched an anti-virus channel recently. Baidu partners with major domestic and international anti-virus service providers, including McAfee, Trend Micro, King Duba, KV2006 and others, to provide free online virus scan service and anti-virus update service subscription service.
Yahoo China vs. Baidu: Yahoo China launched an interesting campaign to promote its search service. Yahoo China presents both the search results from Yahoo China and Baidu in the same screen for users to choose which one is the results from Yahoo. Users are allowed to input any keyword for comparison. I tried it and I have to admit that it is not easy for me to differentiate their results.
Hour41’s special search box: Hour41(IE only) is a newly launched job search engine, which has a special input box in homepage. You can enter the keyword either horizontally or vertically, but I think it is nothing but cool, and it will confuse users.
(Via China Web2.0 Review.)
Posted by Paul Woodward at 7:41 am
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
It's hard to see too many links between Chicago and Macau. However, the People's Daily Online today reports that the government has announced a $525 million elevated light rail system which they think they can build in 48 months. The report suggests that the 22km line will include 26 stations.
Anybody who has an idea of the scale of Macau's expansion plans (and we have commented on these a number of times including here, here and here) will be aware that they are enormously ambitious. The current road infrastructure in what was a tiny and sleepy Portuguese colony for most of the past 500 years, is simply not up to what they want to do. So, it sounds as though this news comes not a moment too soon.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 12:04 pm
Monday, October 23, 2006
I really like the Digital World Tokyo web site and noted with interest this piece about Google having, after six years, clawed its way into the Top 10 of Japanese web sites.
The piece quotes NetRatings saying:
The search engine and its associated sites attracted 17.4 million users in September, up from 12.1 million in the same period a year earlier and enough to give it tenth spot in the month's web property ranking. It sits just behind Amazon.com's site, which garnered 17.5 million users and well behind top-ranked Yahoo Japan, which 23.6 million visited during the month...
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:29 pm
Sunday, October 22, 2006
With the Internet beginning to take off there, the BBC warns of fear among Internet users in Vietnam that authorities are about to clamp down on their activities. The report comments:
The internet is booming in Vietnam. Online cafes can be found in even the smallest towns.
It has given a big boost to the country's small dissident movement - allowing them to communicate with each other and with supporters abroad.
In response, the security forces have blocked access to certain websites and targeted dissidents using the net.
It all sounds eerily familiar to those who follow these things in Vietnams large neighbour to the north. It follows a report just yesterday on censorship there by the same reporter.
Back in June, Yahoo! Singapore reported (and we also posted) that there were more than 12.5 million Internet subscribers in Vietnam now. According to July 2005 estimates, there are 84.2 million people in Vietnam, so that's almost 15% of the population online - and growing fast.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:27 pm
FIPP is, in my opinion, one of the more effective international organisations I have come across. So, I feel mildly less embarrassed than I might otherwise have to come across a piece in the newsletter of a London-based association of which I should have been aware.
It reports that "Singapore Press Holdings Magazines has acquired Asian IT media company Hardware Zone (HWZ) and its subsidiaries for $7.1 million". The SPHM press release describes HWZ thus "has operations in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, China and Australia, publishing prolific IT magazine titles , namely HWM, GameAxis Unwired and PHOTOVIDEOi, along with operating popular online portal www.hardwarezone.com which has monthly pageviews of more than 35 million".
The same FIPP page includes news of a shake-up at part of ACP Magazines in Australia as part of James Packer's restructuring of the family jewels in the wake of his Father, Kerry's death at the end of last year.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:16 pm
Friday, October 20, 2006
There's an interesting piece on Media Partners Asia's web site about Microsoft's launch in China of its Microsoft Digital Advertising Solutions (MDAS) service there. The piece quotes Microsoft's Eric Hadley general manager for Global Marketing saying “We are very committed to the advertising space. We will continue to grow the sales staff [globally], and you’ll see a greater commitment across the board in selling innovative new advertising.”.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 7:03 pm
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Trying to steal a little of Global Sources' thunder (today was the opening of the gifts portion of the China Sourcing Fair), Kenfair has announced with some fanfare the launch of its October 2007 "Mega Macao" event. By our reckoning, this is likely to be the first major event at the new Venetian Macao (pictured here in a July web cam shot) and is a clear effort by Kenfair to capitalise on the Hong Kong/Guangzhou spring and autumn flood of buyers attending existing, major fairs. We think it may be a slightly risky-er venture than Global Source's launches at AsiaWorld-Expo but the potential for these sourcing fairs to grow in the Pearl River Delta appears almost unstoppable.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 4:51 pm
In Beijing yesterday for the American Business Media CEO China meeting. An interesting group there with talks from Reed's Jim Casella, Global Sources' Merle Hinrichs, Tom Gorman of Fortune China and two ladies from the start-up team for Reed's Variety in China.
Al Furst of Asian Projects was also speaking. He suggests that he and I are the only consultants covering B2B in Asia and that when, from time to time, a third emerges, we make special arrangements in Hong Kong to eliminate them. This is, of course, entirely untrue. After all, any special arrangements would best be made in Macau.
Al also talked about chinabyte.com, the partner in China of his client TechTarget. We've obviously been asleep at the wheel again, because we had missed the June announcement that Impress Holdings from Japan had bought 19.99% of that business for $10 million back in June. Shareholders in chinabyte's parent Yesky.com are News Corp., IDG Ventures, and two Chinese industry partners.
Of the 55 Asian B2B web sites we track, chinabyte.com ranks #7 with an estimated 790,000 useres. Its techtarget.com.cn site comes in at #20 with around 96,500.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:49 am
We have written a few things in the past year regarding Xinhua Finance (here most recently). CEO Fredy Bush has just been selected by Hong Kong's American Chamber of Commerce as Entrepreneur of the Year in its Women of Influence Awards, jointly sponsored with the South China Morning Post newspaper.
Quoting Bush, the SCMP feature on the story says "Risk-taking was a prerequisite for entrepreneurship, she said. 'Risks are married with opportunities ... entrepreneurs are risk-takers ... I'm proud to be in the category of entrepreneur [in the Women of Influence Awards] because entrepreneurs tend to spur the economy. We employ people. I like that moniker,' she said".
Xinhua Finance's own press release on the news is here.
We write a lot about how hard it is to do business in China in our industry, so it's great to see somebody recognised for working out how to do it and for then doing it on a really substantial scale. Those challenges are exemplified by Xinhua Finance's own 10th October press release regarding legal proceedings in China over the Xinhua FTSE Index.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:25 am
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
With all the excitement around mobile content over the past 5 years, I've been waiting for somebody to come up with a serious run at mobile B2B (see this posting from May). So, I am interested to see the story on China Tech News that two of China's more interesting media companies, Focus Media and Huicong are planning to work together to build a mobile B2B network.
I do find myself a little confused on the Huicong we're talking about. My understanding was that Huicong was the original name of the company now known as HC International). Global Sources announced a significant strategic investment in that company earlier in the year. It certainly fits the description of "one of the largest B2B service providers". There is, though, another Huicong which appears to be more B2C and is related to another organisation. I will report further on this.
Focus Media we do know (we see their screens in every almost every office lift lobby in Hong Kong and China) and reported on them when they listed last year.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:19 am
Monday, October 16, 2006
The China Export Commodities Fair (better known as the Canton Fair) is the largest trade fair in Asia - by far. For 50 years, it has been held twice a year and served for much of its life as the only source of Chinese manufactured products for China traders. It was distinguished by its focus: Chinese trading companies met international buyers. Many product categories, but one-way trade.
As today's People's Daily points out, that focus is about to change (and this has been the talk of the town for those in the business for a number of weeks now):
The 50-year-old Chinese Export Commodities Fair, which used to be the only international showcase for Chinese products, changed its name to the Chinese Import and Export Commodities Fair on Sunday evening.
Adding the word "import" to its name reflects an adjustment in China's economic development mode, which has featured the expansion of exports for more than two decades, according to experts.
There may be excellent commercial reasons for this. However, the Canton Fair has always been closely linked with the political development of China as well. It is owned by the Ministry of Commerce. Today's news is not unrelated to the story from last Thursday which Bloomberg headlined as "China Posts Second-Biggest Trade Surplus on Record".
We shall watch with interest as the Canton Fair team turns its focus onto Chinese buyers and international sellers - the exact reverse of what it has been doing for the past 50 years.
Update: Playing around with these Technorati tags led me to a small sub-set of the blogging world of which I wasn't previously aware - Canton Fair blogs. Check out:
Cathy's Canton Fair blog
Onemanbandwidth (odd blog this)
Posted by Paul Woodward at 6:57 pm
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Global Sources operates one of the world's top consumer merchandise sourcing sites and, although the look and feel has evolved over the years, it has retained a distinctive style:
We were surprised, then, (actually, not that surprised) to find that the Yiwu Market an important trading centre for low-end consumer merchandise in Zhejiang Province, has adopted a remarkably similar style:
P.S. Your Sunday triva bonus: the quotation "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" comes from Charles Caleb Colton's 1820 book Lacon.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:23 am
Friday, October 13, 2006
OK. What have I written that generates this ad from Google's Adsense on my blog?
Girls and women from China searching for love
If I see noticeable uptick in the pitiful trickle of income these ads generate, I shall think the worse of you readers.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 4:33 pm
Bhupesh Trivedi's Indian Media Observer has, over the last couple of years, been a reliable source of good information on goings on in the speciality media industry in India. We were interested to note, therefore, this listing of the 78 foreign scientific/technical/speciality magazines/journals/ periodicals which have been approved since 2003 by the Indian authorities to produce local editions.
He was posting here on a long list of journals approved for Springer in August ranging from Hernia to The Journal of Headache and Pain. Cheery bedtime reading! Tucked into the middle of Springer's list of worthy journals, you'll find Media Transasia's approval for the Indian edition of Better Homes & Garden.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 4:06 pm
(Reposted verbatim from China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom. The "I" here is not me, but Tim Johnson whose blog it is):
Relaxing the internet squeeze: "It’s not often that I can relate a positive development in the battle for access to information in China. But recent hours bring good news.
China has unblocked the English-language service of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The content of Wikipedia is written and constantly edited by its users.
It is believed to be the world’s 17th most visited website.
For some reason, the internet police in China, dubbed ‘the nanny’ by British friends, have lifted censorship of Wikipedia even though it contains references to topics considered sensitive to the Chinese, such as the ‘three Ts’ -- Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square bloodshed in 1989.
The Chinese-language site has not been unblocked.
Why did China loosen its grip? Beats me. In China, one gets accustomed to government policies that squeeze with one hand while caressing with the other. Maybe they are preparing to crack down on another part of the internet.
In any case, hats off to Wikipedia, which is based in St. Petersburg, Florida, my home town.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:55 am
Thursday, October 12, 2006
News from the DigitlWorldTokyo blog that the largest Japanese IT show, CEATEC, has joined the big international technology shows that seem to be struggling to generate new growth and excitement.
There was, though, clearly lots of fun new techy stuff there as this piece from the Philadelphia Daily News shows. CNET also has a solid review of what was on show.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:04 pm
This morning at a Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents' Club breakfast, a Moscow-based representative of Interfax gave me his take on the recent Xinhua shenanigans regarding the rights of foreign business information providers to distribute their information in China. His view on this was that:
- Distribution of real-time financial information to the Chinese financial services industries is worth around $200mn a year.
- Reuters and Bloomberg get most of that.
- Xinhua would like some of it.
- They have cloaked their run at this $200 mn in political and ideological terminology.
- Their effort is doomed to failure; any potential gains for Xinhua in making inroads into that $200 mn or in giving the Party control over information flows would be massively counterbalanced by losses in the Chinese financial services sector due to delays in receiving crucial financial information.
Given Interfax's USSR roots, you sense that they know of what they speak when they talk of these double-edged swords.
Update: Set this against this piece from Fons Tuinstra and the Scotsman piece to which it refers and you wonder if the Mad Hatter's Tea Party isn't in full swing. What would possess Reuters to open a development centre in Beijing at the moment we wonder?
Posted by Paul Woodward at 7:10 pm
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
I was lucky enough to participate in a panel at an Amsterdam conference last month with Richard Charkin, the CEO of Macmillan. His blog provides great insights into parts of the publishing industry about which I don't know anywhere near enough. Recommended reading.
Today he is talking about the new Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai (note how this Wikipedia entry is already up-to-date. You have to love it) and developments at Macmillan's Nature Publishing Group. We wrote a bit about that back in January.
Charkin quotes Jason Wilde, the publisher of Nature Nanotechnology saying:
Not only have we launched new titles but we have also expanded our editorial operations to include Asia. The decision to have one of the editors for Nature Nanotechnology in Tokyo reflects the strengths of the Asia-Pacific region. Japan is second only to the US in terms of investment in nanotechnology research, and South Korea is ranked fifth in the world. China is also emerging as a force in nanotechnology and scientific research.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 9:16 pm
Thanks to Cherif Moujabber of Creative Expos and Conferences (and also on the list) for alerting me to TradeShow Week's "Power Pack 100" - the 100 Most Influential People in the Tradeshow Business. I am tickled to have been included on the list of 10 "Foreign Agents" along with many friends and colleagues from around the world. These include UFI colleagues Tom Beyer and Vincent Gérard as well as near neighbours Wolfram Diener over in Macau, Cliff Wallace at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre and Peter Sutton of CMP Asia. Also in Asia, I am honoured to find myself in the company of CEMS' Edward Liu and CCPIT's Wang Jinzhen.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 2:28 pm
Monday, October 09, 2006
Back in the Dragonair lounge at Hong Kong International Airport en route for Beijing. I mention this only through having looked at my travel activity in the past 12 months. For one thing, this is flight number 80 since this time last year (ouch!). The other thing is that, despite trips to Beijing at least once or twice a month in the past few months, my trips to Shanghai have slowed to a trickle.
That's not to suggest that the sun is setting on Shanghai (although there are newspaper pundits who would have us believe that), but that business development focus is now elsewhere in China. My business involves working with clients to look forward and most of them, at least in the industries in which I'm working, see Shanghai as either fully served or as too competitive. In some industries, people are also telling me that they find it too expensive while fierce price competition keeps profitability low or non-existent.
Like Hong Kong, Shanghai is a resilient place and few people have made much money in the long term by betting against it. But it will be interesting to see where the new business develops.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:14 am
Saturday, October 07, 2006
The immaturity of the market shines through in the silly tone of this Business Standard article from India on the rivalry between online job sites Monster India and Naukri.com.
As contentsutra.com points out, "the war of words between Naukri and Monster India is not new. Both always claim to be the number one jobs portal in India."
Amongst the jumble of numbers and predictable denouncing of Alexa.com from the one whose ranking is lower (see here for our previous takes on this), there is no mention of whether anybody's making any money. Do grow up boys.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 10:08 pm
Friday, October 06, 2006
Exchange4media.com is reporting that the Financial Times is gearing up to launch a South Asian edition. Government approval is still be sought although a country head and business development director have been hired.
We will see how much further this gets than the IHT and Wall Street Journal plans for India. The market remains a tough one both commercially and from the regulators. Although much more open than China, there is deep-rooted bureaucratic opposition to foreign newspapers.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 8:03 am
Thursday, October 05, 2006
I learned a lot today about blogs, blooks and Japan from a free feature at WSJ.com. It appears that the Demon Wife blog (Jitsuroku Oniyome Nikki) has spawned comics, a TV programme, a video game and now even a book or, as it was spawned by a blog, a blook.
It also seems that this is following in the foosteps of the "Train Main" or Densha Otokoa saga which has generated $11 million in 'other media' sales.
If you're ever feeling hard done by, consider just this tale from the Demon Wife blogger Kazuma: "Then there was the shopping trip when the demon wife ordered Kazuma to give blood in order to get the free-parking voucher available to blood donors."
The more you look into this stuff, the stranger it gets. But the whole topic of online media giving birth to 'old media' products is something which I find increasingly interesting. I've just written in more detail on it for EPS and, if you subscribe to their services, you should see a piece on it shortly.
Posted by Paul Woodward at 11:51 pm