ASMCD and Microsoft mentioned in the following press release today:|
Wednesday March 17, 10:20 am Eastern Time
Company Press Release
Competition for Asia's Internet Market is Heating Up -- Asia Media's MyWeb Unit Announces New Licensing Agreements
NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 17, 1999--The competition for Asia's Internet market is heating up. Last week Bill Gates unveiled Microsoft's (Nasdaq:MSFT - news) plans to develop high-speed broadband services in cooperation with Hong Kong Telecom. Today, New York-based Asia Media Communications Ltd. (OTC BB:ASMCD - news), a market leader in Asia's set-top box market, announced that its MyWeb business unit has signed major licensing agreements with three leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in China and Hong Kong. They include HKNet -- a subsidiary of the Hong Kong listed CCT Telecom Group -- MassLink and NetChina, which operates in Beijing, China.
These three ISPs will add an estimated 500,000 unique users to MyWeb's online service, bringing the total number of its unique users to approximately 1.5 million per month. As a comparison, this is more than the fastest-growing E-commerce site, Macys.com (NYSE:FD - news), Internet auction site, Ubid.com (Nasdaq:UBID - news) or automobile portal, Autoweb.com, received in December. That number is almost one third of the number of hits that MSNBC -- Microsoft's joint venture with NBC (NYSE:GE - news) -- received in January.
At present, the total number of Internet users in China and Hong Kong is approximately 3 million, but the number is expected to reach 9.4 million by 2002 in China alone (Reuters 10/98). By 2001, China is expected to have the largest user base in the region, surpassing current leader Australia. MyWeb is clearly positioned as the market leader in many South Asian markets. Its strongest markets include Hong Kong, Singapore and China as well as Malaysia, where it has practically a 100% market share.
''We are very optimistic about the market for MyWeb set-top boxes in China. This will contribute significantly to the exponential growth of Internet users in the next few years. We eagerly await the next generation MyWeb devices develop on Sun's (Nasdaq:SUNW - news) Java platform,'' commented Mr. Wan Ping Guo, managing director of NetChina IT co. Mr. Wan is also the chairman of the Internet Services sub-committee of the Software Industry Association of China.
MyWeb produces a system that allows customers to use their television set to connect to the Internet via a digital set-top box and a remote control or wireless keyboard. While in the U.S. computers are the primary way to access the Internet, in emerging markets most people find set-top boxes more affordable and user-friendly. According to IDC (International Data Corp.), the worldwide set-top box market is about to explode and Asia will be at the forefront.
''We believe that the MyWeb Internet set-top box will become the most successful Internet television set-top box in Asia, particularly with the advanced Java-based development platform. We will work closely with MyWeb to develop advanced applications for merchants and end-users in the Asia region,'' explains Charles Mok, managing director of HKNet.
Under the licensing agreements, ISPs agree to license MyWeb's ThunderServ server software. It allows them to support the use of MyWeb set-top boxes, manufactured by Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG - news), thus extending the reach of their subscriber base beyond PC users only. The three ISPs mentioned above will also adopt the MyWeb online service as the preferred Web portal for all of their subscribers, including both PC and set-top box users.
MyWeb's online service localized for the Chinese market is expected to be launched in the second quarter of this year. It focuses primarily on E-commerce -- bringing goods and services to consumers at competitive prices. There is a strong underlying demand for Chinese E-commerce sites and Web portals. Last year, China Economic Times reported that 45.5% of Chinese users complained there was not enough Chinese-language material on the Internet.
''We expect E-commerce on MyWeb's online service to grow exponentially this year. The growth is a result of more users adopting the Internet, as well as more merchants realizing the importance of the Internet in their marketing plans. The more ISPs in the region adopt MyWeb Online Service (MOS), the faster we can grow,'' says TS Wong, CEO of Asia Media Communications Ltd.
MyWeb's positioning resembles that of America Online (NYSE:AOL - news) and Prodigy (Nasdaq:PRGY - news). ''MyWeb's online service is in many ways similar to Netscape (Nasdaq:NSCP - news) or AOL. Their Web portals receive heavy traffic because users automatically access their site whenever they log on. So do ours,'' states Wong.
MyWeb already has a base of 15,000 set-top boxes in the Asian market, and expects over 100,000 more to be sold this year. That would be more than twice the amount that WebTV had in the market when it was purchased by Microsoft in 1997 for $425 million. On Tuesday, March 16, ASMCD (MyWeb) had a market cap of only $130 million.
Last week, Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq:SUNW - news) and MyWeb announced their licensing and marketing partnership.
The statements made by Asia Media Communications Ltd. / MyWeb Inc.com may be forward-looking in nature. Actual results may differ materially from those projected in forward-looking statements. Asia Media Communications Ltd. / MyWeb Inc.com believes that its primary risk factors include, but are not limited to: the need for substantial financial requirements; the need to develop effective internal processes and systems; the ability to attract and retain high quality employees; changes in the overall economy; changes in technology; the number and size of competitors in its markets; changes in the law and regulatory policy; and the mix of product and services offered in the company's target markets. Merger Communications (Merger) is a media relations firm employed by the Company. The statements and opinions presented here represent the views of the Company, not Merger, as the release is based on the information provided by the Company. Merger and the Company believe that all information in this release has been obtained from sources considered reliable, but can not guarantee that the statements presented herein are accurate or complete. Merger's compensation for its media relations services, including preparation of press releases, consists of a monthly retainer and warrants for the purchase of the Company's stock. Merger may have a long position in the securities of the companies in which it distributes information to the media, and Merger may be buying or selling securities in the course of its regular business.
Merger Communications Inc., Houston
David Drake, 713/267-2328