MUMBAI: A group of investors led by Japanese mobile telecom firm SoftBank Corp is in talks to buy a 20% stake in Indian handset maker Micromax Informatics for up to $1 billion, two people aware of the discussions said. The investment would value Micromax, an unlisted provider of affordable smartphones that competes with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co, at around $5 billion, the people said. They did not want to be named because the talks aren’t public.
Japanese hardware startups were out in force at this year’s SXSW Interactive. In fact, the Japan section of the SXSW trade show was the largest display by any foreign country that made the trip to Austin. The University of Tokyo’s “Todai to Texas” area, which showcased 10 up-and-coming hardware startups, made up the bulk of the Japan section and was one of the event highlights. You can read all about Todai to Texas and their first five startups in yesterday’s post.
Taiwan-based Hon Hai Precision Industry wants to participate in the management of Sharp if it is to invest in the struggling Japanese electronics maker, Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou said in a report in Toyo Keizai. In an interview published in the Japanese weekly Friday, Gou said Hon Hai is ready to support Sharp financially, but the support is contingent on being able to join in the Japanese company’s management. Gou said he has not met with Sharp president Kozo Takahashi in a year, but if the Sharp executive wanted to see him, he would be able to fly to Japan at any time.
Panasonic is opening up its software and patents on Internet of Things technologies along with contributing more to the AllSeen Alliance, a major group working on open source IoT devices and software. It has sided against making all patents open source, clearly protecting some of its more valuable ideas and software. Panasonic didn’t give a figure as to how many patents and software applications would be available for everyone to check.
Japan’s news app war continues and Gunosy has won the latest round. In a filing approved by the Tokyo Stock Exchange today, Gunosy confirms that it will IPO on April 28. The startup is looking to raise JPY 5.32 billion (US$44.5 million) and expects an initial market cap of JPY 31.4 billion (US$263 million). Both figures are subject to change as the number of shares to be issued might be adjusted.
In the wake of continued slow sales of its LCD and smartphone products, Sony is expected to lower the sales ratio of low-margin products and thus will adjust its outsourcing policy, a move which will affect Taiwan-based ODM/OEM partners, including Foxconn Electronics, TPV Technology and Arima Communications, according to industry sources.
TAIPEI/TOKYO: Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry is considering joining efforts to help rescue Japanese electronics maker Sharp, the company said in a statement late on Friday. Hon Hai’s willingness to ‘participate’ in Sharp has never been limited to investing, but could include technology licensing transfer and other forms of cooperation, according to the statement from Hon Hai, which is also known as Foxconn.
Ecommerce titan Rakuten is doubling down on its struggling Kobo ereaders by acquiring an ebook marketplace called OverDrive. The deal, announced this afternoon, sees Rakuten buying out US-based OverDrive for US$410 million. OverDrive has over two million ebooks, audiobooks, and videos on its site. The company started out offline in 1986 selling print books and CD-ROMs, and then in 2000 it moved online to form an ebook and audiobook repository.
TOKYO: Japanese authorities are investigating a worker at Amazon’s local unit over claims he was involved in the sale of child pornography, reports said Thursday, marking another police probe into the US-based web retailer. The unidentified man, reportedly in his forties, posted a graphic picture book for sale that showed nude girls believed to be under 18, Jiji Press news agency and the Asahi newspaper reported, citing police sources. The temporary distribution worker, who was dispatched to work at Amazon Japan Logistics, an affiliate of the Japanese arm of Amazon.com, was in charge of product management and distribution, the reports said.
MUMBAI: Japanese system integration company NTT Data expects more than 25% growth in its revenue as well as workforce in India in the next year. “India is one of our fastest growing markets in Asia-Pacific. The region is growing at 25% year-on-year, so for an emerging market it will be more,” Ryoji Fukaya, NTT Data’s president and chief executive for Asia-Pacific region, told ET. “There is great opportunity in manufacturing, retail, and banking and financial services,” he added.
Nintendo is finally getting smart. In Tokyo today, the company announced that it is entering into a partnership with DeNA, the Japanese tech giant which rose to prominence on the strength of its smartphone games. During the press conference Iwata and Moriyasu revealed that this deal had been in the works since last summer. With the partnership announced, they confirmed that consumers can expect games to appear by the end of this year.
TOKYO: Nintendo shares shot up more than 21% on Wednesday after the videogame giant said it will enter the booming market for games on smartphones, in a U-turn long sought by investors. As traders pounced with buy offers overwhelming sell offers, the shares changed hands at 17,080.0 yen, up 21.3% after hitting the daily stop limit of 3,000 yen. It was the best closing price for the stock since June 2011. Nintendo, based in the ancient city of Kyoto, announced Tuesday it was teaming up with Tokyo-based mobile gaming company DeNA to develop games for smartphones.
Japanese electronics company Sony announced that their flagship video game console PlayStation 4 and handheld gaming device PlayStation Vita will be officially available in the Chinese mainland market on March 20, 2015. Prior to this, Sony announced plans to provide the two products in China from January 11, 2015. However, due to various reasons, the debut launch was postponed. Sony also revealed that by March 8, 2015, the company had sold 20 million PlayStation 4 consoles worldwide.
TOKYO: Japan video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd and online gaming firm DeNA are teaming up to develop smartphone games featuring the likes of Super Mario, in a bid to retain users increasingly shunning their console and browser-based games. The two companies said on March 17 that they would buy 22 billion yen (122 million pounds) worth of shares in each other as part of a capital and product tie-up. As a result, Nintendo will acquire a 10% stake in DeNA while DeNA will acquire a 1.2% stake in Nintendo.
After hinting several times over the past year or so that it wants to accept Bitcoin on its marketplaces, Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten announced today that it will start to accept the cryptocurrency on its global marketplaces. The rollout will begin in America, and then spread to Rakuten Germany and Rakuten Austria. Bitnet, an enterprise-focused developer that creates bitcoin platforms, is Rakuten’s partner in the rollout.
Everyone says Japan’s business leaders need to do more to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, especially among the youth of the country. Such exhortations typically fall on deaf ears, but Tomoko Namba, founder of DeNA, is listening. Last Thursday she attended the simply but effectively named Startup Conference 2015 as a guest speaker. The twist was that instead of giving a speech about how to be an entrepreneur, she was going to be grilled by three young Japanese entrepreneurs.
Japan has robot chops aplenty. Honda has the world’s most sophisticated humanoid robot, Japanese industrial robot makers are among the best, and the country’s space agency landed a robot probe on a speeding asteroid and returned samples to Earth. But when it comes to drones, Japan is almost a nonentity in a rapidly growing market. The odd made-in-Japan drones show up at tech trade shows in Tokyo, but these are usually for research purposes and are exhibited by small startups or university groups.
For viewers of Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire”, Mumbai’s vast Dharavi slum is a byword for poverty, but to online retailer Snapdeal.com it is a battleground for new customers and, it hopes, a source of better margins. The company’s aspirations are backed up by serious investment from the likes of Japan’s Softbank Corp, which ploughed $627 million into Snapdeal last October, and could soon get a boost from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, which is in talks for another cash investment, a source told Reuters on Wednesday.
NEC has achieved the top score in the United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) 10 finger identification tests. NIST’s Fingerprint Vendor Technology Evaluation (FpVTE) found that NEC had the best fingerprint matching results among the 18 companies and organisations that took part in the testing. FpVTE was organised to mimic potential operational requirements, such as application with National ID systems and criminal investigations.
Japanese ecommerce conglomerate Rakuten has led a US$530 million investment round for Lyft, the San Francisco based ridesharing startup. TechCrunch first broke the news of the round, and Lyft quickly confirmed it on its blog. Rakuten also told Tech in Asia that it is taking an 11 percent stake in the firm for US$300 million, and provided the following canned statement from CEO Hiroshi Mikitani: