Daisuke Inoue could be a billionaire if he had only filed a patent for his invention three decades ago -- the karaoke machine, which has opened up the prospect of stardom, however fleeting, to millions of musical wannabes. \nInstead, the man whose creation has become a US$7.5 billion-a-year industry in Japan alone has designed gadgets to wash clothes and kill insects as he tries to put his finger on the next sensation. \nNow aged 64, Inoue said he came up with the device that would become a worldwide social lubricant when he was a fumbling keyboardist accompanying customers at a club in the western Japanese city of Kobe. \n"A driving force [for the invention] was my laziness as it was hard to master new songs one after another," Inoue told reporters in an interview. \nInoue, with a smooth deep voice, graying slicked-back hair and a ponytail, has never been able to read music even though he started earning money as a drummer when he was 16. \n"Accompanying tone-deaf singers was no problem. What was toughest for me was to remember by heart several new songs every month because I couldn't read music," said the inventor of karaoke. \nInoue first got the idea for a karaoke machine in 1971 after a club customer asked him to join him on a weekend company trip as he wanted to sing to Inoue's keyboard. Inoue could not skip work at the club, so he made a tape of instrumental music for him. \nLater that year, he invented the original karaoke machine, called "8 Juke," based on a car stereo and equipped with a microphone, amplifier and coin box that played music recorded on eight-track cartridge tapes. Inoue was 31 at the time. \nThe machine proved to be an instant hit. \nThough rival devices by firms such as Daiichikosho, now the top karaoke company, appeared within three years, Inoue saw 12 good years selling tape-based karaoke machines. \nHis company's fortune waned with emerging laser disc-based machines in the mid-1980s. He survived by turning the company from a karaoke machine maker to a trading firm. \n"I went to Daiichikosho with which we had been battling fiercely and asked them to let us handle their machines," Inoue said. \nHis company came to boast annual sales of ?10 billion (US$95 million). But the lifestyle proved too much for Inoue. \n"It was luxury-induced depression. I had been a salesman talking directly to customers but was suddenly given a monthly salary of ?3.5 million and no real job," he said. \n"I began to suffer head-aches and was unable to move to go to office," he said, recalling the months in the early 1990s he served as nominal "chairman" of the company. \nHe broke out of his depression by leaving the company, running around with his dogs and establishing an industry group to promote his invention, the All-Japan Karaoke Industrialist Association. \nHis latest invention is the "New Aqua Trio" pot which is purported to electrolyze water for washing laundry, cleaning dishes and even rinsing mouths without detergent or chemicals. \nCosting ?399,000 (US$3,800), the home-use pot is touted to bring about "a cleaning revolution." \nAnd this time, Inoue has wisely decided to patent the product, both in Japan and internationally.
NEW CONSIDERATIONS: An airline manager said the idea is tempting, as demand for air cargo is strong, but issues such as training loaders would need to be addressed Taiwanese airlines might repurpose passenger jets to carry cargo in their cabins to offset lost revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Airlines are considering applying to the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) for permission to transport cargo in passenger cabins after StarLux Airlines Co (星宇航空) last month became the first among the nation’s airlines to offer cargo-only flights using the normal cargo holds of its three Airbus SE A321neo passenger jets. “We are considering whether to increase our capacity by putting cargo on passenger seats,” Starlux spokesman Nieh Kuo-wei (聶國維) told the Taipei Times by telephone. “The advantage is that we can improve revenue,
GLOBAL CUTS: CEO Warren East said the firm’s focus was on strengthening financial resilience, so it would likely reduce salary costs by at least 10% this year Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC is scrapping its targets and final dividend to shore up its finances as the British aero-engine maker’s customers around the world ground planes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rolls-Royce, one of Britain’s most historic industrial names, which before the pandemic struck was trying to emerge from a multiyear turnaround plan, has suspended its dividend for the first time since 1987. The company’s engines power Airbus SE and Boeing Co’s widebody jets, but more than 60 percent of that fleet is now grounded, according to aviation data provider Cirium. Rolls-Royce is paid by airlines based on how many hours they fly. Over
PAINFUL CONTRACTION: Passenger loads in February on flights between Taiwan and China, Hong Kong and Macau fell by more than 90 percent compared with December Even with more than NT$450 billion (US$14.85 billion) in financial aid from the Executive Yuan’s expanded relief package, local tourism-related businesses are unlikely to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic any time soon, a central bank report released last month said. The NT$1.05 trillion relief package includes NT$472 billion in financial assistance for tourism and transportation sectors, such as airlines, hotels, travel agencies, taxis and tour buses. However, a March 20 central bank report said that the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on global and domestic economies are far greater than that of the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, despite any benefits from delayed purchases
Taiwan’s GDP growth would slow to 0.2 percent this year as the COVID-19 pandemic would hurt the economy more severely than the government’s expanded relief measures could cover, Moody’s Investors Service said yesterday. Moody’s said that the pandemic’s effect on the economy has escalated from a temporary supply-side disruption of cross-strait trade to a global economic downturn. “The outbreak has evolved into a serious demand shock to Taiwan’s economy externally and domestically as the health crisis has swept the globe,” it said in a report. Taiwan is highly exposed to a global downturn because of its reliance on trade and cyclical industries. Export