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Sony to challenge Apple in Japan with e-reader

Microsoft chief shrugs off Apple rise
New Delhi (AFP) May 27, 2010 - Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Thursday said he was unconcerned that his company had been overtaken by rival Apple as the world's biggest technology firm in terms of market value. Ballmer spoke to reporters in New Delhi day after Apple, maker of the iPod, iPhone and iPad, passed the software giant for the first time. "It is a long game. We have good competitors but we too are very good competitors," he said. "I will make more profit and certainly there is no technology company on the planet that is as profitable as we are." "Let's see what happens as I am still pleased that 94 times out of a 100 somebody picks a Windows PC," he said. Ballmer was in India to underline the future importance of Microsoft's cloud services platform, in which people use applications hosted online instead of buying, installing and maintaining software on their own computers.

"India will not only see a surge in consumption of cloud services, driving growth in domestic IT usage, but companies all over the world will look to India for their transition to cloud computing," he said. The technology is expected to create more than 300,000 jobs by 2015 in India, he said. Microsoft shares shed 4.07 percent on Wednesday to close at 25.01 dollars, dropping its market capitalisation -- the number of shares outstanding multiplied by the stock price -- to 219.18 billion dollars. Apple shares lost 0.45 percent meanwhile to close at 244.05 dollars, giving the company a market value of 222.07 billion dollars. Apple stock has risen steadily as chief executive Steve Jobs, who returned to Apple in 1997 after a stint away, piloted the release of hit products starting with the iPod in 2001.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) May 27, 2010
Sony said Thursday it will launch an e-reader in Japan and set up a platform for newspapers, books, comics and magazines, challenging rival Apple a day before its iPad goes on sale in the country.

The Japanese electronics giant plans to build "one of the largest eBook distribution platforms in Japan," with telecoms operator KDDI, the Asahi Shimbun company and Toppan printing company, it added.

The joint venture is to begin on or around July 1 and start services by the end of this year, with the four companies taking a 25 percent stake, they said in a joint statement.

The move comes a day before the launch of the iPad in Japan and other countries outside the United States, where print media face a steady decline in advertising and have turned to e-readers as a chance for new revenue.

Sony, which has already started e-Book businesses in the United States, plans to sell e-readers in Japan by the end of this year to mark its return to the market after it virtually withdrew from the business there in 2007.

"People's awareness of e-Books here has been enhanced rapidly," Fujio Noguchi, senior vice president of Sony Electronics of the United States, told a joint news conference with his three partners.

"A big wave of e-Book businesses has been swelling around the world, and the tide has spread from North America to Europe and Asia," Noguchi said. "This year will be defined as the first year of eBooks. Time is ripe."

The Japanese electronic book market is now estimated to be worth 46 billion yen (about 500 million dollars), with most titles distributed via mobile telephones and conventional computers.

"The introduction of digital devices that enhance the reading experience has heightened global interest in digital publishing," the four companies involved in the new platform said in the statement.

The four will also be open to further collaborations to establish an e-book market in Japan. "The eBook distribution company plans to construct an open platform which can deliver content to consumers through a range of devices."

The iPad is expected to galvanise interest in online books, magazines and other media.

Japanese news media have until now taken a wait-and-see approach to the device, contrary to their US peers.

Newspaper circulation remains robust, falling only six percent between 1999 and 2009 to 50.3 million sales daily, the Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association said, better than their US peers.

However, magazine circulation in Japan has slumped by a third over the decade.

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Apple iPad to make international debut on Friday
New York (AFP) May 26, 2010
Apple's iPad finally goes on sale outside the United States this week after heavy US demand for the multi-media gadget forced a one-month delay of its international release. The touchscreen tablet device from the maker of the Macintosh computer, the iPod and the iPhone will be available on Friday in stores in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland. ... read more

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