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Broadband Business

 

Internet World Japan 2001, the annual industry exposition, shows how Internet business is shaping up after the dot-com shakeup. Kristen McQuillin reports on a three-for-one show.

 

Scores of venture-capital-funded dot-coms breathed their last gasp after the close of last year’s Internet World. This year’s show focused on consolidation, efficiency, and the bottom line for the Internet-based companies that survived. “E-business is not about web-based business. E-business is about web-enabled ways of doing the usual operations of business more effectively,” said Sam Halabi, vice president of product architecture at Extreme Networks, in his keynote speech.

Rhetoric aside, saving money and turning a profit is back in style for Internet businesses. Flyers used phrases like “total cost of ownership,” “business consolidation” and “cost-savings” to highlight the benefits of shelling out cash on new products. Despite the focus on cost-cutting, the 56 vendors at the show were providing lots of swag—pens, phone straps, candy, even a whiteboard—to anyone willing to fill out a questionnaire. But at times it seemed the staff outnumbered the visitors despite an almost deafening roar of presenters showing off the latest hardcore hardware and software products.

“Broadband” is the current buzzword among Internet companies in Japan, and networking hardware manufacturers dominated the floor space with routers, hubs and switches for the broadband wiring closet. Flamboyantly purple rack-mounted hardware at Extreme Network’s booth highlighted their Ethernet Everywhere concept—24/7 high-speed access to everything—that will help businesses to boost productivity. Apparently they haven’t learned about the recent changes in Japan’s “death by overwork” criteria. Cisco Systems’ latest range of products includes nifty IP phones that plug into an office network. As a bonus, the phones come in Cisco’s signature shade of blue.

 

Streaming Media Japan 2001

On the other side of the room, “co-located with Internet World Japan” according to the brochure, Streaming Media Japan 2001 offered more lively booths. Although this show had only 34 exhibitors, most of the innovation in the conference center was concentrated here. Streaming video is the hot new child of digital media. Whether it’s being presented live or on-demand, sending video across the Internet requires specialized authoring hardware and software plus a good dose of broadband.

Two big names in video authoring, Adobe Systems and Real Networks, drew plenty of attention and big crowds with demos of their latest products. Competitors flocked to one of Real’s lunchtime demonstrations after carefully tucking their exhibitor badges into pockets. A number of less-renowned players put their own products through the paces and gathered equally large crowds.

For media producers with big dreams but not enough space for a studio, Globe Caster Studio combines a switcher, editor, character generator and effects to allow a single operator to control an entire broadcast. Add a camera equipped with Globe Caster’s Holoset Chroma Key Technology, a special ring of lights that fits onto a video camera and reflects back the right chroma color for blue screen effects, and some on-screen talent and you’ve got yourself a virtual newsroom. Price tag: about US$30,000.

For a chance to see some of these technologies in action, visit Kyoshin Technosonic’s Techno Square. This streaming media showroom showcases the industry’s tools of the trade so you can try out the goods before you buy. Techno Square is open weekday mornings and afternoons (3F Shibuya Higashi Guchi Bldg, 2-22-3 Shibuya, tel: 03-5467-3170).

Many of the exhibiting vendors were showing off their streaming servers—the hardware components that push the video out to the Internet. Emblaze System’s turnkey products allow content producers to encode and compress their video, and stream it to wireless devices including mobile phones and PDAs. Streaming servers by NEC, Pinnacle, and Canopus offer mix-and-match operation.

 

DEMO Japan

The orphan child of this three-fold exhibition, DEMO Japan collected 16 venture capital firms into a corner of the conference center. Attendance in this area was lackluster, but it’s heartening that there is still money to be had for Internet-based ideas with a good business model.

 


TECH KNOW:
DECEMBER

404: Broadband Business
Internet World Japan 2001, the annual industry exposition, shows how Internet business is shaping up after the dot-com shakeup. Kristen McQuillin reports on a three-for-one show.
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