Microsoft Thailand Project Thrown Into Uncertainty
BANGKOK, THAILAND, 1998 JUN 23 (Newsbytes) -- By Sompit Potipattanakorn, The
Nation. Negotiations between Microsoft (Thailand), a unit of Microsoft Corp.
[NASDAQ:MSFT], and 7-Eleven for the PC Next Door project are breaking down with
the firms having differences in investment and focus, according to Phanu
Limmanont, the assistant vice president of Counter Service Co Ltd, an IT
subsidiary under the Charoen Phokphad conglomerate.
Both companies had planned to deploy personal computers, under the concept of
"PC Next Door", at 7-Eleven stores to allow people to use public computer
services at a shop near their home.
The idea is to have PC systems available for people to use at the 24-hour
convenience stores, which they can use for services such as accessing the
Internet or paying utility bills online.
In addition, the companies hoped to create the PC next door service as a single
point of contact, allowing people in that community to communicate or deal with
various government organizations to ask for civil or social services,
"We spent four hours in talks last week but can't conclude the negotiations
because of the differences. We want Microsoft to join in infrastructure
investment while Microsoft wants to sell its applications and technology
services to 7-Eleven," Phanu said.
In addition, the point of sale (POS) system is the priority for 7- Eleven while
Microsoft is attempting to boost the PC Kiosk service which needs
"Even though there are more than 1,000 7-Eleven outlets throughout the country,
only a few are linked with fiber optic cable. If we provide Web Phone and PC
Kiosk services, we need to invest considerably in new infrastructure. The
question is why do we need to invest at all," he said.
Phanu said that the PC Kiosk, which allows customers to use public computer
services, is certainly a trend but Thai customers today and in the near future
are not ready to embrace the concept.
Apart from negotiating with Microsoft, 7-Eleven is talking with other software
and technology vendors including Sun and Nestcape.
"We are also interested in the Java technology with our belief in the network
computing concept," he said.
Even though the PC Next Door project faces difficulties, the set-top box
project, which is a collaboration between UTV, another subsidiary of the CP
group, and Microsoft, is not affected.
"The negotiations for the set-top box project and the PC Next Door project are
being conducted by different executives," he said.
For the set-top box project, Microsoft will provide Web technology including
software and hardware for UTV set-top boxes. UTV hopes to distribute 2.6
million set-top boxes throughout the country.
Set-top box technology allows people to use IT and multimedia services such as
the Internet, video-on-demand, education-on-demand and the inevitable home
shopping, through a traditional television set. It can make existing television
receivers more "intelligent".
Reported By Newsbytes News Network: http://www.newsbytes.com