First Coffee for October 25, 2005

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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First Coffee for October 25, 2005

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is Frank Sinatra’s A Swingin’ Affair! album. As one reviewer said, records don’t get much better than this:

China Netcom Group Corporation Limited (Hong Kong) a telecommunications company in China and the Asia-Pacific region, has announced that its shareholders have passed the resolutions to a conditional sale and purchase agreement to acquire telecommunication businesses in northern China.

Under the agreement, the company will acquire from China Netcom Group Corporation (BVI) Limited its telecommunication businesses in Heilongjiang Province, Jilin Province, Neimenggu Autonomous Region and Shanxi Province at a purchase price of RMB12.8 billion ($1.5 billion). The amount will comprise an initial consideration of RMB3 billion ($370 million) payable in cash to CNC BVI and a deferred consideration of RMB9.8 billion ($1.2 billion) payable within five years after completion of the acquisition.

Commenting on the benefits of the acquisition, Chairman of China Netcom, Mr. Zhang Chunjiang, said, “The acquisition is a major step towards our business integration. This acquisition will further expand our geographical coverage, brace us for further growth, and enable us to realize economies of scale and reach greater operational and management efficiency.”

CNC BVI is characterized by CNC Hong Kong officials as “the dominant provider of fixed-line telephone services, broadband and other internet-related services, and business and data communications services in its regions,” with an operating profit of RMB1.135 billion ($140 million). As of 30 June 2005, CNC BVI had a total of approximately 28.86 million fixed-line subscribers and approximately 2.78 million broadband subscribers, representing approximately 90.2% market share of fixed-line telephone services and approximately 90.7% market share of broadband services in its service regions.

Chalk one up for common sense in at least 15% of the population: Research and Markets’ latest report, The Pet Market: Market Assessment 2005 finds that 15% of all pet owners say that they think pet insurance is too expensive and/or a waste of time.

Pet insurance. Does it ever strike you that some people have too much disposable income?

Intriguingly the research put forward in the report showed that Southern pet owners, where one would expect a more common-sense approach to the whole issue, are “considerably more likely” than those in the North or the Midlands to take their pet to the vet – understandable – but, incomprehensibly, “twice as likely to have pet insurance for their dog or cat.”

Only a very small proportion of pet owners whose pets are not already insured, the report finds, say that they are considering taking out pet insurance in the future – indicating that the pet insurance market may be reaching a critical mass, with most of those likely to purchase it already having done so. Also “slightly worrying for the pet insurance industry,” according to the report, is the fact that 15% of all pet owners say that they think pet insurance is too expensive and/or a waste of time.

Actually the fact that a pet insurance industry exists in the first place is slightly worrying.

End2End, a European provider of outsourced products for mobile data, has announced the expansion of mobile messaging capability of MSN Messenger to Scandinavia.

The expansion is part of the rollout of MSN Messenger 7.5, which incorporates mobile messaging in the PC client as part of the convergence of PC based internet and mobile.

The latest release of MSN Messenger, including mobile messaging capability, has been available to MSN users in many markets around the world including Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom since May 2005.

Following the announced expansion, this service will also be available for MSN Messenger users in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Yankee Group has announced the results of its 2005 European Connected Consumer Survey, which reveals European broadband consumer trends, summarizes the state of the market and gauges future market trends.

Survey respondents are broadband households spread evenly (20% each) across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom. Key findings include that 21% of broadband users have churned from their BSP in the last 12 months, compared with 17% in 2004.

Also nearly 70% of multi-PC homes now own some kind of home networking product, more than half of all broadband users are interested in next-generation TV services.

“BSPs need to explore ways to beat price-based competition,” said Jonathan Doran, Yankee Group, senior analyst, Broadband & Media Europe. “BSPs can avoid this battle by paying close attention to consumer desires including value-added services, enhanced benefits and new features.”

Walk up to a friend in the office and say “Hey, betcha five bucks you can’t guess, within 10 million, how many mobile phones are going to be shipped this year.” They’ll guess 200 or 250 million, you take a sip of coffee and say “800 million” and pocket a five-spot.

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global mobile phone shipments grew 25 percent year-over-year, to reach a record 209 million units during Q3 2005. In contrast, worldwide industry Average Selling Price fell 11 percent annually during the quarter.

Motorola reached its highest share position since 1999, while Sony Ericsson achieved its best performance since 2001.

Neil Mawston, Associate Director of the Wireless Device Strategies service at Strategy Analytics, said, "A record 209 million mobile phones were shipped worldwide in Q3 2005. Following 566 million units during the first 9 months of the year, we expect the full-year total to surpass the 800 million level for the first time ever.”

Mawston added that Q4 will be “yet another record quarter,” and the cell phone market is on track for $120 billion in total annual wholesale revenues by the end of this year.

Chris Ambrosio, Director of the Strategy Analytics Wireless Device Strategies service, added, "In stark contrast to the 25 per cent upward growth in shipment volumes, global wholesale handset ASPs declined 11 percent year-over-year, to reach $146 during the third quarter of 2005.”

Ambrosio said “intense pricing and profit pressures within the mobile phone industry” are going to cause consolidation-pressure to reach critical mass among smaller vendors, “such as Ningbo Bird and Panasonic,” who will, in his estimation, “struggle to maintain increasingly expensive development efforts in either low-cost phones or feature-rich 3G handsets through the next several years.”

Other findings from Strategy Analytics' Q3 2005 Global Handset Market Share Update include that Motorola achieved a 19 percent global market share during Q3 2005, representing its highest position since 1999, and that Sony Ericsson rose to almost 7 percent market share during Q3 2005, achieving its highest rating since their merger was announced in 2001.

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