Friday, March 30, 2012

Halloween style show at the ILS March 2012

Although they are advertised in the trades individually, several years ago the International Lingerie Show (ILS) and the Las Vegas Halloween dress trade show effectively merged, doing their shows at the same time and venue.  The Rio Hotel and Casino can handle crowds of that size, and there is a good pact of overlap between the buyers for the two shows, so it just made sense.

Formally there are two fashion shows for each of the trade shows, but they are put on in series on the Monday night of the trade show.  The Halloween part - which is all sexy “adult party” attire, not the kinds of ghosts, witches and monsters costumes you can get at Wal-Mart - is put on first, and this year included 58 different clothes in a show lasting nearly 45 minutes.  The viewers of buyers and exhibitors stays, obviously, for the lingerie show which follows, which means the audience is there for nearly two hours after the shows start.

It would never do to have tired, hungry buyers get grouchy in the middle of the show from low blood sugar, so the producers have a lavish “heavy hors dousers” and an open bar to keep the multitudes pacify.  And to keep enthusiasm high, at everyday intervals throughout the shows models come down the runway with a range of swag to throw to the crowd.  It’s a joyful crowd.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Sony CEO to keep charge of troubled TV operations

Tokyo: Sony Corp CEO Kazuo Hirai signaled his determination to turn around the group's ailing TV business by keeping direct charge of the division, as the Japanese brand fights to regain ground against rivals such as Apple.

Hirai, who formally takes over as chief executive from Howard Stringer next week, inherits a company that - like much of corporate Japan - has been outgunned in recent years by rivals like Apple and Samsung Electronics.

The maker of Bravia televisions and Vaio laptops expects a 220 billion yen ($2.7 billion) net loss for the year to this month, a fourth straight year of losses, and due in large part to a TV business that has not been able to keep up with nimbler and cheaper rivals.

Sony said Hirai would head a new home entertainment division, which includes TVs and replaces the consumer products and services group that he had led.

"The TV business is Sony's main business and (its recovery) is an absolute condition that must be met for the firm to recover its performance," said Keita Wakabayashi, an analyst at Mito Securities. "That's why it will be placed directly under (Hirai's) control, and means he has to take care of the most important issue."

Sony hopes Hirai, credited with reviving the PlayStation game business through aggressive cost-cutting, can work similar magic with a TV business that has lost more than $11 billion over eight financial years.

Sony will also form a new unit to oversee its medical business, which it has described as a growth area.

"The market is big ... but industrial electronics makers like Hitachi and Toshiba are already in this area so it's not like Sony is advancing into a free territory," said Mito's Wakabayashi. "Compared to this, it's much more important to improve the TV business."

Corporate plight
In many ways, Sony's woes illustrate the plight of a once-mighty corporate Japan hobbled by the very system that made it the world's envy back in its 1980s heyday.

Japan's manufacturers have invested hugely in factories and equipment to carry out their traditional strength of in-house production, but are now grappling with plunging product prices and excess capacity in a rapidly shifting digital landscape.

TV makers Sony, Panasonic and Sharp expect to lose a combined $17 billion this year alone, also clobbered by a strong yen, weak demand and tough competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics.

Long Sony's biggest product category by sales, TVs were overtaken by other segments in October-December. TVs accounted for 13 per cent of overall sales in the quarter, down from 19 per cent a year earlier and trailing games (16 per cent) and combined sales from Sony Pictures and Sony Music (15 per cent), according to the company's latest financial statement.

Despite the Walkman creator's image as an electronics icon, its only profitable businesses this financial year have been in entertainment - Sony Pictures and Sony Music - and financial services.Sony has been scrapping production capacity for several months, moving closer to Apple's "asset-light" business model of keeping design and product development in-house and outsourcing manufacturing. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Japan Atomic Power overlooks data on fault beneath plant for 7 yrs

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan Atomic Power Co. has overlooked for seven years data from its sonic survey of 2005 finding that a fault running under its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture could trigger an earthquake more serious than anticipated, a government-affiliated researcher suggested Wednesday.

The importance of the data was confirmed through recent reexamination of them by a team of researchers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Earlier in March, Yuichi Sugiyama, leader of the team, said the Urazoko fault under the plant is at least 35 kilometers long and could trigger a quake with a magnitude of around 7.4, more than twice as much energy as earlier expected to be contained in a quake.

The research team estimated the length of the Urazoko fault by combining other faults connected to it, and the magnitude in expectation that the fault will cause a total displacement of more than 3 meters if it becomes active.

The government's Earthquake Research Committee and Japan Atomic Power earlier estimated that the Urazoko fault, including other faults connected to it, is 25 km long.

Japan Atomic Energy has failed to provide the data for studies at an expert panel launched in 2008 by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Green and clean car promotions begin to pay dividends

Despite lingering consumer doubts about the technology and practicality of electric vehicles, the Chinese government and automakers are pushing ahead with the development of green cars.

Buyers of hybrid cars, which run on a combination of batteries and conventional engines, are entitled to a direct central government subsidy of 5,000 yuan ($790) per vehicle, while a rebate of up to 60,000 yuan on the purchase price is offered to buyers of battery-driven cars.

Green and clean car promotions begin to pay dividends

New electric cars on display at Jiading Auto City, Shanghai. [Provided to China Daily]

Other than government incentives, auto manufacturers are luring buyers of their alternative cars with free maintenance and a range of personalized services.

Their combined effort to promote greener cars on Chinese roads is beginning to pay off. A survey by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed that 8,159 hybrid and electric cars were sold nationwide in 2011. All together, there are more than 10,000 green cars on China's roads.

The energy conversion rate of electric vehicles in general is 46 percent higher than in internal combustion engine cars, and they have the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to 68 percent, said Raymond Tsang, partner at Bain and Company.

The majority of early converts to green cars are college-educated young professionals in major cities. For instance, Zhao Yu, a 30-year-old office worker at Shanghai International Automobile City, in Jiading, a district of the Shanghai municipality, bought a hybrid car domestically produced by BYD "to show support for my district's reputation as the country's showroom for energy-efficient cars".

Jiading, home to Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (Group), one of China's largest car manufacturers, considers itself a suitable testing ground for popularizing the use of clean cars.

All the promotions were making Zhao feel embarrassed every time she drove her gas-guzzling, pollution-belching, sinister-looking lump of a sedan to work every day. To repent, she spent 160,000 yuan in April last year to buy BYD's new hybrid model, the F3DM, to drive to work and show her eco-friendly credentials.

To her surprise, buying the car has brought benefits that make her feel like a pampered child. For a start, she received close to a 40 percent, or 60,000 yuan, rebate from the central and local governments on the purchase price of her hybrid car. What's more, she was told she could enjoy free battery recharge at stations sprouting in the city, compliments of the Jiading district government.

"I am still getting the hang of owning and driving a hybrid car," she said. But the many incentives have removed any earlier doubts she had about the economic sense of buying one. "I feel like I am one of the chosen few," she said. That feeling, she added, "makes me feel immensely proud of my decision".

Zhao's F3DM can go as far as 150 kilometers in hybrid mode, a range long enough to make the daily round trip from her home to the office and back. "I never need to worry about running out of juice in the middle of nowhere," she said.

In electric power mode, the batteries can sustain up to 90 minutes' driving, or 80 kilometers, before the gas engine takes over. "I only need to recharge the batteries once every day, after I get to work," Zhao said.

The good thing, Zhou added, is that her car is smooth and quiet. What's more, it saves her quite a bit on fuel costs, compared to her other car, which she drives only on weekends.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Apple faces new fight in China IP dispute

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Creditors of Proview Technology (Shenzhen), the insolvent company which registered the iPad trademark in China, have mounted an additional challenge against Apple in its efforts to gain control of the trademark.

This latest episode in the trademark saga comes as Apple is launching the iPad 3, and serves as a reminder of the risks the company is facing in one of its most dynamic markets.

He Jun Vanguard Group, a consultancy that represents Proview Shenzhen’s eight Chinese creditor banks, said on Wednesday that since the banks had taken control of Proview’s assets in March 2009, it would have been illegal for the company to sell the trademark at the time. Apple closed a deal nine months later with a sister company of Proview Shenzhen, under which the US company claims to have acquired the China trademark.

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The argument creates a new hurdle for Apple in a battle which is being fought in several courts in China and in the US. Proview Shenzhen filed the iPad trademark in China as early as 2000 for a PC product it sold back then. Proview Electronics (Taiwan), a sister company of Proview Shenzhen, filed the trademark in several other markets between 2000 and 2004. In December 2009, when Apple was preparing to launch its tablet, it closed a deal through a special-purpose company to acquire the “global” iPad trademark from Proview Taiwan.

The trademarks in other markets have since been transferred to Apple’s name but Proview Shenzhen has refused to transfer the China trademark, arguing it was not included in the deal. Last December, a Shenzhen court rejected Apple’s request to have the China trademark transferred to its name. Apple has appealed the verdict. A final ruling in this case had so far been seen as the most likely end of the dispute.

But the creditors’ intervention throws this into doubt. He Jun Vanguard warned that the banks would try to block Apple’s access to the trademark even if the final verdict reversed the earlier ruling.

“No matter what the [final] result of the lawsuit is, the eight creditor banks have the right to directly apply to the Trademark Office to reiterate the creditors’ rights of control and seizure and stop the loss of Chinese intellectual property,” He Jun Vanguard said in a statement emailed to the FT.

“The essence of the fight over the IPAD trademark is a fight between Apple and Proview’s eight creditor banks,” said Huang Yiding, He Jun’s vice-president.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Sony Tablet™ P Available on AT&T 4G Network

AT&T* today announced Sony Tablet™ P, a dual screen, multi-functional tablet ideal for mobile communication and entertainment, will be available beginning March 4. The 4G Tablet will be sold for $399.99 with a two-year service agreement in more than 1,000 AT&T company-owned retail stores.

The new Sony Tablet P pushes the design of a tablet even further by elevating the user experience to entirely new levels. The unprecedented dual-screen layout of Sony Tablet™ P allows its two 5.5-inch displays to be used for different functions such as playing video on one screen while using the other as a controller, or checking email on one screen while using the other as a keyboard. Customers can also combine the displays into a single large screen and its unique folding design means it can fit easily into a pocket or purse.

At launch, users will be able to download apps optimized for the dual screens of Sony Tablet P via Sony’s “Select App,” including games, entertainment and lifestyle applications. In addition to optimized apps, Sony Tablet P users will have access to the full suite of Android applications via Android Market. Like its predecessor, Sony Tablet P is PlayStation™ Certified and provides access to the full suite of Sony Network Entertainment services. Sony Tablet devices are distinguished by four key features that set them apart from any other tablets on the market. These include: uniquely designed hardware and software, a “swift and smooth” experience (which includes Sony original features, Quick view and Quick touch), network entertainment services and cross-device connectivity.

Running on Android 3.2, Sony Tablet™ P is 4G**capable and Wi-Fi compatible. With a qualifying data plan, users of Sony Tablet™ P also have access to AT&T's mobile broadband network and unlimited access to AT&T’s nearly 30,000 hot spots nationwide. With both 4G&Wi-Fi customers can browse the Internet, access digital content including videos, games, and check e-mail, while on the go, nearly anytime.

Data Plans

Customers who sign a two-year service agreement have two postpaid data plan options to choose from, including:

  • AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $35 for 3GB
  • AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB

Customers may still choose from the existing monthly billing options, or prepaid options, with no long-term commitment. The Sony Tablet P without a long term contract will cost $549.99.

The prepaid plan options include:

  • AT&T DataConnect 250MB: $14.99 for 250MB
  • AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
  • AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB



  • Resolution: 1024 x 480 (each screen)
  • Screen Size: 5.5" (x 2 - dual screens)


  • Camera: Front – 0.3 Megapixel Rear – 5 Megapixel

Inputs and Outputs

  • Headphone Output: 1
  • MicroUSB: 1


  • Internal Memory: 1GB


  • Battery Life (Approx): Up to 7 hours (based on general usage)
  • Battery Type: Li-Ion


  • Processor Type: NVIDIA® Tegra™2 mobile processor, duel-core 1GHz


  • Operating System: Android 3.2


  • External storage: microSD card slot (expandable up to 32GB, 2GB microSD card included)
  • Internal Storage Capacity: 4GB

Weights and Measurements

  • Dimensions (Approx.): Open - 6.23l x 7.09w x 0.56h (inches) Closed - 3.12l x 7.09w x 1.03 h (inches)
  • Weight (Approx.): 0.83 lbs


  • Bluetooth® Technology: Bluetooth version 2.1 + EDR
  • Wi-Fi: IEEE802.11b/g/n
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