FamilyMart: A convenient success

By Anita Devasahayam

FAMILYMART opened its first 24-hour convenience store in 1998 in the eastern edge of Seoul at Songpa district. Within five years, the convenience chain that competed with big players such as 7-11 and LG-25, triumphed by adding another 1499 stores across the country. It emerged on top of the pile and remains profitable. FamilyMart

It can be argued that household goods and perishables are proven money-spinners for strategically placed stores as a FamilyMart typically location are populated suburbs filled with apartment blocks and housing complexes. FamilyMart remains a strong contender to other convenience store chain operators with its winning combination of wise business decisions, tech-savvy set-up and good relationship with franchisees.

FamilyMart believes that its franchise system became so successful because its owners nurtured relationships with its franchisees, says its Information Systems Department manager Sang Shin Park.

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AirAsia: Have Net will travel

By Anita Devasahayam

The region’s first budget, no-frills airlines AirAsia is flying high, raking in an estimate RM500,000 a month (US$132,000), thanks to the Internet. Chief executive officer Tony Fernandes tells C|Level why his e-ticketing strategy works.

AirAsia's Tony FernandesAIRASIA’s chief executive officer Tony Fernandes believes that anything is possible where there is a good enough deal. So when he sold 2,600 air tickets within six hours over the Internet at RM10 (US$2.60) a piece in December 2000 for his newly launched airline, he was verified.

“If the offer is good, people will find their way. The beauty of it - and I will tell this story till I the day I die - we had a family of 19 from a rubber estate, who got their brother-in-law with a credit card, find their way to the Internet and bought tickets,” he reveals.
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Ericsson free phone offer is a hoax

By Julian Matthews
Thursday, April 13 2000

KUALA LUMPUR–An email promising a free handphone from Swedish telco giant Ericsson and circulating among Asian Internet users is a hoax, confirmed a company spokesperson today.

“Ericsson is not giving away free phones. The chain mail is a fraud and there is no person with the name of Anna Swelund working at Ericsson. At Ericsson, we are constantly looking at new, innovative ways to market ourselves, chain emails is not one of them,” said Peter Bodor, public relations manager of Ericsson Mobile Communications in an email response.

Bodor said the company first detected the fake mail at the end of March and has received about 1,000 mail since, mainly from Europe, and also from the US and Asia.

He added, however, the volume did not crash its mail server.
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Handspring Visor lands in Asia

By Julian Matthews, CNET.com
Wednesday, March 08, 2000 10:33 PM

KUALA LUMPUR–Palm rival Handspring Inc is set to enter the Japanese market with a localized version of its Visor handheld computers by next quarter, says co-founder Donna Dubinsky.

“Our plan is to be in the Japanese market by second quarter this year. We have already established an office in Tokyo. We intend to enter Asia via Japan first, then into other markets,” she responded in an email to CNET Malaysia.

She added the company has not finalized plans for localized versions of the Visor in other Asian markets yet. “We can’t really do Korean or Chinese versions until Palm localizes the PalmOS into those languages.” Handspring is a licensee of the Palm operating system.

Dubinsky and co-founder Jeff Hawkins were also both co-creators of the popular Palm series, the current market leaders in the handheld computing space.
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Chase Capital’s US$1 billion venture fund for Asia

By JulianMatthews
Thursday, February 24 2000

KUALA LUMPUR–Chase Capital Partners (CCP), one of the world’s largest providers of private equity capital, is about to close a US$1 billion fund for Asia in March.

Founder and managing general partner Jeffrey Walker told CNET Malaysia the new fund called Chase Capital Partners Asia will focus on investing in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, China, Taiwan and to a lesser extent, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

“The Asia Pacific region is definitely the greenfield place for foreign venture cap funds to shop around and seed new ideas, particularly in Internet-related investments. We expect many private equity funds to enter Asia soon, probably targeting more developed economies first. We are also targeting greater China given its huge market potential in the long run,” he said in reply to a CNET Malaysia query.

The Asian fund, which had its first close of US$521 million last May, is headed by Andrew Liu, the former president and managing director of Morgan Stanley Asia.
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Toddlers on the net: When should you get your child a PC?

by Anita Devasahayam

Children have become the new target of Internet pushers. Parents mesmerised by slick advertising campaigns, and not wanting their kids to be left behind, are taking the bait. But when is it the right time to introduce computers to children? And does the technology really provide them greater opportunities to be creative?

Educators are beginning to question the drive to get children on computers and on the Net at an early age — even before they can write, spell or do arithmetic. American educational psychologist Jane M Healy, PhD, in her eye-opening book: Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Children’s Minds — For Better And Worse points out that computers, used in the wrong way, can actually hinder a child’s educational development.

With 35 years experience in teaching, Healy, a former tech-pusher, made an about-turn after three-years of exhaustive research in hundreds of schools across the United States. According to her findings, children under seven don’t really need to be exposed to computers at all as it affects their brains and physical health. “The brain undergoes certain ‘critical’ or ’sensitive’ periods in both childhood and adolescence, when learning environments exert special kinds of effects and when certain types of activities and stimulation are most appropriate and necessary for the brain to reach its potential. If we waste or subvert these developmental windows, the losses may be irrecoverable,” writes Healy.

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Catcha.com to license search technology, launches Chinese site

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Regional portal player Catcha.com will license its search and retrieval technology worldwide as a new revenue source.

“We have been approached by several parties to use our unique technology and have decided to commercialize and develop it into a product,” said Patrick Grove, Catcha.com Group chief executive.

Grove told CNET Asia the company will spend at least 2 million ringgit (about US$526,000) over the next five years to further research and develop its search engine.
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Malaysian fabs tipped for U.S. bank loans

By Julian Matthews

KUALA LUMPUR–Two wafer fabrication projects in Malaysia are being considered to receive financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), the official export credit agency of the U.S. government.

The managements of startup fabs 1st Silicon (M) Sdn Bhd and Silterra (M) Sdn Bhd have confirmed that a bank representative made site visits to evaluate the two projects this month.

1st Silicon chief executive Claudio G. Loddo cited “significant progress” from the recent meeting. “The bank has been in contact with us since early this year and is evaluating and considering significant opportunities in Malaysia,” he said.
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Women in IT: Coming into their own

by Anita Devasahayam

Carly Fiorina’s appointment as CEO in the world’s second-largest computer company in July is an indication that women are beginning to seriously dot the male-dominated high-tech landscape.

Reaching the No.1 post at Hewlett-Packard Co is all the more significant as Fiorina, 44, had topped Fortune’s ranking of the “50 Most Powerful Women in American Business” for two consecutive years.

Perhaps, even more telling in Fiorina’s case is that the only other person tipped to take over the reins at HP, prior to her being named, was another woman, Ann Livermore, the CEO of the computing division at HP.
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Malaysian elections: On the cyber campaign trail

By Julian Matthews

Malaysia had its first elections ever in which there was finally a medium beyond government control–the Internet. But did the Net play any part in helping people decide who to vote for?

When the results of Malaysia’s 10th general elections were coming in on the night of November 29, one stunning outcome that appeared on the Internet even before results were announced by the mainstream media was the defeat of opposition leader Lim Kit Siang in Penang.

It was ironic that the Internet was to be bearer of news sounding the death knell for the parliamentary career of the long-time Democratic Action Party stalwart. Lim is an ardent advocate of the medium and frequent poster to his party’s Web site and various newsgroups.
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