Media Center on the way
Philips intends to bring a so-called Media Center into stores by the end of the year. The firm revealed the plans prior to a recent international electronics fair in Berlin. The device resembles a DVD recorder, but in fact is a combination of entertainment electronics and a computer. The Showline Media Center MCP9350i can store videos, photos and music in its 250 gigabytes of storage space. These can then be sent on to other audio or video devices for playback, using either a cable or wirelessly. The Media Center also offers two TV tuners to allow one program to be watched while another is being recorded. It also has a built-in DVD and CD recorder and insertion slots on the front for various storage media types. The Media Center is due in December with a Pentium 4 chip, USB 2.0 and Firewire. Philips declined to name a price.
Mitsubishi pulls PC's LCDs
Mitsubishi Electric Corp will stop production of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) for personal computers as early as 2008 and focus on smaller panels for cellphones, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported, without citing sources for the information. Mitsubishi Electric expects personal-computer panels will make up 10 percent of its total LCD sales in six months through to this month, down from 15 percent at the end of March as it seeks to counter price competition by rivals in South Korea and Taiwan, the newspaper said. Hitachi Displays Ltd, a unit of Hitachi Ltd, will raise production of cellphone panels, the newspaper said. The company's LCDs larger than 10 inches will be mainly for television sets, the newspaper said. Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology Co, an affiliate of Toshiba Corp, will reduce its LCD panels for personal computers to 15 percent of total sales, down from 30 percent, the newspaper said.
Fuel monopoly attacked
China Eastern Airlines (東方航空), one of China's top three carriers, has called for an end to the monopoly of fuel supply in the domestic market, which has sent its profits diving, state media said yesterday. "The fuel monopoly system must be broken to let airlines have the freedom to choose where to buy," said Li Fenghua (李豐華), president of China Eastern Airlines Group Co, in a report on the China Daily Web site. China Aviation Oil Holding Co holds a near-monopoly on China's jet-fuel market, limiting the choice for airlines such as China Eastern, which purchases 70 percent of its fuel from the domestic market. "The fuel market, which is monopolized by one company, has put Chinese airlines in an unfavorable position to compete with their overseas counterparts," Li said.
■ Mobile phones
Spice Nepal sets up shop
A privately owned cellular phone company yesterday said it had started services in Nepal, breaking the monopoly held by a state-owned telecommunications company. Spice Nepal Private Ltd said in a statement that it began signing up subscribers over the weekend in Kathmandu, and would spread its service to other cities in Nepal. Spice Nepal's entry into the cellphone market comes after the government opened the telecommunications industry to private businesses in 2000. Until Spice Nepal's entry, only government-owned Nepal Telecom provided cellphone services. It has about 300,000 subscribers.