Taiwan is set to become one of the first markets outside of Japan to launch Pepper, a key plank in SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son’s vision of future technology centered on ‘internet of things’, a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data.
The island is also home of the robot’s contract maker Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
Pepper won’t be available for sale or to consumers yet in Taiwan, which like many other markets, has yet to widely adopt human-like robots as part of a regular lifestyle.
The goal is to rent out 60 robots a month by sometime in the first half of 2017, Foxconn executive director Lu Fang-ming told reporters at a briefing.
The banking units of First Financial Holding Co., and Taishin Financial Holding Co., the life insurance arm of Cathay Financial Holding Co., and Taiwanese telecommunication carrier Asia Pacific Telecom Co., are expected to put Pepper into their frontline service to support the basic needs of customers, said Lu, who is also chairman of Asia Pacific Telecom.
Carrefour plans to start by putting two Pepper robots into its shops in Taiwan, said Marilyn Su, national marketing director for the French retailer. Su said the first mission for the robot is to get to know the customers and see how they interact with Pepper, especially children, before ordering any more.
Foxconn unit Perobot Co., which is in charge of sales and maintenance for Pepper in Taiwan, said Pepper is available for lease in a two-year contract at T$26,888 ($836.67) per month.
Verizon, seeking to bolster its meager digital content for consumers, announced on Monday that it was acquiring Yahoo’s core internet business for $4.83 billion in cash.
“The acquisition of Yahoo will put Verizon in a highly competitive position as a top global mobile media company and help accelerate our revenue stream in digital advertising,” Lowell C. McAdam, Verizon’s chairman and chief executive said.
The deal, which was reached over the weekend, unites two titans of the early internet, AOL and Yahoo, which were surpassed by Google and Facebook long ago and have struggled to compete on their own.
Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year. Now it will add Yahoo’s consumer services — search, news, finance, sports, video, email and the Tumblr social network — to its portfolio. The telecommunications giant hopes the combination will create a stronger No.3 challenger to Google and Facebook for digital advertising revenue.
Apple is planning to open its first Apple Store in Taiwan, a move that comes after the U.S. technology giant raised $1.38 billion in a bond offering last month on the island that is home to many companies in its supply chain.
Apple was seeking “a leader for personnel training plans for the Taiwan Apple Store” and other retail positions indicating it was looking for a team in Taiwan, according to job postings on Apple’s website.
The telco giant has long been considered the favorite to buy Yahoo’s internet assets, which it wants to combine with AOL, which it bought last year for $4.4 billion.
Part of Verizon’s pitch to Yahoo’s board is that it is the logical choice, since it is already operating a similar business. The concept of such a deal is to combine its advertising tech assets and become the third alternative to leaders Facebook and Google. Both companies also have extensive media assets.
“If Verizon bid that high, they’ve definitely got it, because they’re the safe bet for Yahoo,” said a rival bidder.
And insider sources at Yahoo, whose efforts are being led by board member Tom McInerney, also said that it wanted a deal that was the easiest to close. “There is no worry with Verizon about financing or as many questions about integration,” said one source. “It can swallow this without a lot of trouble.”
And Verizon raised the price it was willing to pay in its most recent offer for Yahoo, delivered this week. But some members of Verizon’s board had previously expressed concern about the deal’s price tag and were worried about other costs. That includes the revelation that search partner Mozilla had been given advantageous and pricey termination terms in a deal struck by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer.
Speaking of Mayer, if the transaction is completed it would be an ironic turn, given that a key exec on the Verizon side is AOL’s Tim Armstrong. He and Mayer worked together at Google many years ago. And most importantly, as recently as two years ago, Mayer had rejected Armstrong’s efforts to merge the two companies. AOL went with Verizon, which would now be swallowing up Yahoo.
But the deal is not sealed. As recently as yesterday, Yahoo was asking an investor group led by Quicken Loans’ Dan Gilbert for more details on their offer. Private equity firm TPG has also been very aggressive in the bidding.
Pandora’s board has turned down a take-over offer from Liberty Media. Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei approached the company with an offer of around $15 per share in recent months, which would equal around $3.4 billion.
Pandora board members value the company at closer to $20 per share.
Shares in Nintendo Co. jumped as much as 9.5% in early trade on Thursday, powered by ongoing hopes for its new Pokemon GO mobile game, which has become an instant hit after just over a week on the market in three countries.
The augmented reality game, where players walk around real-life neighborhoods to hunt down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens, had more than 65 million users in the United States just seven days after launch.
Industry experts say the game, which has rocketed to the top of Apple and Android app stores in record time, could be the next big marketing tool for retailers.