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Xbox Designer Spearheads Broadband Venture

by Judy on April 14, 2005 @ 11:25 a.m. PDT

A designer of Microsoft's Xbox game console is teaming up with two of China's biggest electronics makers to develop a system to deliver movies and video games on demand to millions of homes worldwide by broadband Internet. Phantom anybody ?

Kevin Bachus's new venture, IDV-Global Media-On-Demand, reflects China's eagerness to take on a lucrative role as creator of popular new technologies for the Internet and telecoms.

Based in Newport Beach, Calif., Bachus's venture plans to work with Haier Group, China's biggest consumer electronics producer, and Tsinghua Tongfang Co., a major computer maker.

The company says it plans to develop a computer system that will deliver games, sports, movies, television programs and games by Internet to televisions and computers. Details of the technology haven't been released.

In a sign of official enthusiasm for the venture, the company held its public debut in China on Tuesday at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, the seat of the country's parliament.

But the extent of the government's backing was unclear.

"I've never heard of it," Wang Lijie, a spokesman for the Ministry of Information Industry, one of several agencies in charge of media and telecommunications-related businesses, said Thursday.

Beijing has been trying to generate its own technology standards in almost every new area, from digital television and wireless computer systems to next-generation mobile phones.

"With any new technology you can expect a gatekeeper approach," with China trying to control standards, says Duncan Clark, managing director of the Beijing-based consulting firm BDA China Ltd.

IDV-GMOD presents itself as a global alternative to IPTV, or Internet Protocol TV — delivery of television programming via the Internet.

IPTV services are just beginning to take off in the United States and Europe. They are not yet allowed in China.

"IPTV is a limited, regional broadcasting technology that was developed to allow broadband companies to compete with cable TV and satellite services," Fan Yeqiang, deputy director of the government's China Institute of Policy Studies, said in a statement during IDV-GMOD's launch.

The Chinese coalition backing IDV-GMOD expects the new technology to allow Chinese media companies to securely distribute programs worldwide, direct from publisher to consumer, Fan said.

A statement by the company said it has spent more than $30 million to acquire Internet domain names for its media platform, such as SPORTS.TV, MOVIES.TV and GAMES.TV.

So far, China's efforts to set its own technology standards have met with delays due to technical problems, complaints by foreign manufacturers and other issues.

Clark said IDV-GMOD will have to win support from a range of participants in order to work — telecoms, media and electronics companies and the government agencies that regulate them.

"What this initiative claims to attain, aligning the interests of many different players in the value chain, is something that has eluded many a media mogul outside China," Clark said.

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