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.
CLIENTS’ RIGHTS: Banking Bureau Deputy Director-General Lin Chih-chi said the buyer and Citibank Taiwan would need to disclose changes to branch operations DBS Bank Taiwan (星展台灣), the local unit of Singapore-based DBS Group Holdings Ltd, has reportedly won a bid to acquire Citibank Taiwan Ltd’s (花旗台灣) consumer banking business, but the two companies declined to confirm the report yesterday. Citibank Taiwan’s consumer banking business is to be sold for about NT$60 billion (US$2.17 billion) to DBS Taiwan, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported on Sunday. DBS Taiwan and its parent company are expediting the negotiations with the seller’s US-based parent company, while other local bidders, including Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控) and Cathay Financial Holding Co (國泰金控), have dropped their bids, the report said. Citibank
Intel Corp yesterday said it has placed its first order with ASML Holding NV to purchase the semiconductor industry’s first TWINSCAN EXE: 5200 system, as the US chip giant aims to compete with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in advancing to 2-nanometer process technology. The Dutch semiconductor equipment maker’s TWINSCAN EXE:5200 system is an extreme ultraviolet (EUV) high-volume production system with a high numerical aperture (NA) that can produce 220 wafers per hour, more than the 150 wafers that its previous generation TWINSCAN EXE:5000 system can handle. ASML aims to launch the new system in 2024. ASML president and chief
Siltronic AG cast doubt on a planned US$5.3 billion takeover by GlobalWafers Co (環球晶圓), saying the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action’s feedback so far was opaque and offered no clear resolution on how to win approval for the deal. During recent discussions, the companies did not receive any information as to whether and under which conditions a clearance for the takeover might be issued, the German company said in a regulatory filing on Friday following a news report on remedies the companies have offered. In the ministry’s view “in this case, a mitigation agreement is apparently not suitable
BELLWETHER COMPANY: A failed fundraiser at Country Garden, thus far unaffected by issues at Evergrande, is feared to prompt widespread repricing of developer stocks A crisis engulfing China’s property sector is affecting its biggest developer, with Country Garden Holdings Co’s (碧桂園) shares and bonds hammered amid fears that a reportedly failed fundraising effort might be a harbinger of waning confidence. Country Garden is one of the few remaining large, better-quality private developers that had been largely unscathed by the liquidity crunch, even as peers, such as Shimao Group Holdings Ltd (世茂集團), saw dramatic reversals in their credit ratings. The firm is viewed as a bellwether for contagion risk, as unprecedented levels of stress in the offshore credit market threaten to drag good credits down alongside bad