Monday, 12 November 2007

Facebook to enter Chinese market

In a bid to grow its presence in the business intelligence software market, computer giant IBM is to buy software firm Cognos for $5 billion (£2.4 billion). Business intelligence software is aimed at helping large companies analyse information for complicated issues such as strategy or staffing. IBM proposes to pay $58 (27.6) for every share of Canadian-based Cognos, with other firms also growing their business intelligence software such as SAP, which is set to buy Business Objects.

IBM and Cognos, which employs 4,000 people worldwide, already have an existing business relationship. The purchase is expected to close in the first quarter of 2008 and needs approval from Cognos shareholders. Steve Mills, senior vice president at the IBM Software Group said "we chose Cognos because of its industry-leading technology that is based on open standards."
IBM shares rose 1% to $101.27 (£48.22) on the news. (source: BBC News)

Speculation is growing that Facebook is preparing a foray into China, with the social network being linked to a number of possible acquisition targets in the world’s second-largest internet market., a Chinese social networking site is reportedly in sight by Facebook. According to the Chinese press, Facebook has maintained an interest in despite the Chinese group rebuffing an offer of up to $100 million (£48 million).

A spokesman for Facebook (who today denied the reports) said: “Facebook has no plans to acquire any company in China. In the coming months, internationalisation of the Facebook website is priority and those efforts will support multiple markets around the world.”

However, Facebook, itself the centre of takeover speculation in recent months, has also been linked to Tianwang, a Chinese search engine, and (meaning on campus), the leading social network in China, which has an appearance similar to Facebook and claims to have 8 million active users in almost 8,000 colleges and universities in China. was acquired last year by Oak Pacific Interactive, the Chinese new media conglomerate.

It is estimated that China has some 162 million internet users, placing it second only to the US. According to a recent poll, the average Chinese user spends between 14 and 19 hours a week online, compared with between seven and ten hours in the US.

In 2005, Yahoo! announced it would merge its Chinese arm with, a domestic rival, drawing a line under years of losses in the country. EBay, the world’s largest online auction house, has struggled to compete with China’s, despite the American company making its entry into China through the acquisition of, at the time China’s largest auction site. (source: Timesonline) - Facebook valued at $15 billion

O2 sought to dismiss reports that the Apple iPhone is selling at a slower than expected pace claiming the device was its "fastest-selling” ever. Peter Erskine, the chief executive of O2, which is Apple’s chosen network partner in the UK, said: “It has been the fastest-selling device we have ever seen. The phone had sold in the tens of thousands since its launch on Friday”

Britain’s biggest mobile operator also raised speculation about the potential hit to rivals such as Vodafone and Orange from its exclusive deal with Apple. Two thirds of customers buying the iPhone were new customers to O2. IPhone buyers must sign up to an O2 contract costing from £35 to £55 a month for a minimum of 18 months.

However the refusal of both O2 and Carphone Warehouse, the only independent retailer to sell the phone, to reveal exact sales figures, has raised speculation that the gadget a combined iPod music player, mobile phone and internet browser, is not living up to expectations. Carphone Warehouse had said that it hoped to sell 10 000 of the devices when the iPhone launched on Friday, while O2 said last week that it had ordered several hundred thousand units to sell over the next couple of months. (source: Timesonline)

An A380 superjumbo VIP order has been made by the world's 13th richest man, Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal. He has invested a small piece of his estimated $20.3 billion (£9.8 billion) fortune in an Airbus "Flying Palace", which is priced out of most tycoons' range with a retail price of $310 million (£147.6 million).

The passenger version of the A380 has already raised the bar in luxurious air travel, with inaugural customer Singapore Airlines fitting its business class section with double-bed cabins. However, private buyers will have much more leeway to indulge their whims, because the lack of hundreds of economy class seats leaves ample room for a kitchen, boardroom, cocktail bar, gymnasium, jacuzzi and giant plasma TV screens. Virgin Atlantic, one of the biggest investors in innovative airline products and a prospective A380 buyer, has considered installing a swimming pool and creche in its planes.

The plane will be delivered around 2010 and will take about two years to fit. Asked if the prince had chosen the layout of his new jet, Velupillai said his customer had "not decided yet". He said: "In general terms, the VIP A380s will have lots of bedrooms, plus lounges where up to 20 people can be seated." (source: The Guardian) - Battle for the Jets

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