Kiosk Newsbit

Microsoft Thailand Project Thrown Into Uncertainty
(Newsbytes; 06/22/98)

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 
telecommunications infrastructure.

"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:

Thanks Kinetic!

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