Legend And National Semiconductor Jointly Develop Set-Top Box That Combines Tv Programming And Internet Access
Utility Company Towngas is the First Customer
Santa Clara, CA --
Legend Holdings Limited (HKSE:992), a top-ranking computer manufacturer in Asia Pacific, and National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM), the leading provider of silicon and total system solutions for information appliances, today announced a new set-top box that combines television programming and Internet services.
The set-top box, based on the National Geode™ solution, allows users to browse the web on their TV sets at home. The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Ltd (Towngas), a utility company based in Hong Kong, selected the set-top box for its iCare Internet-on-TV Service, which enables subscribers to surf the web without using a PC.
"With the rapid development of the Internet, Legend has adopted a proactive approach in this arena," said Yang Yuanqing, Executive Director of Legend Holdings Limited. "The development and manufacturing of Internet access devices is a major focus of Legend. In addition to PCs, the Group is developing more Internet access devices, including set-top boxes, palm-sized PCs, and broadband and wireless Internet access devices. The set-top box is a newly added product line of the Group, and we believe it will become an important device for accessing the Internet."
Yang Yuanqing continued, "Legend-National Semiconductor joint laboratory, founded in Beijing in Spring 2000, launched its first set-top box product only five months after its establishment. With the strengths of both Legend and National Semiconductor, we can further develop our cooperation to capture the rapid growth of the market."
The set-top box market is a key aspect of National's information appliance strategy. Last week the company announced single-chip processor solutions for three of the fastest-growing information appliance markets: set-top boxes, personal Internet access devices and thin clients.
"National is very excited about this three-way collaboration with Legend and Towngas, because it illustrates our ability to establish strategic partnerships with the key players in this market," said Michael Polacek, vice president of National's Information Appliance division. "Towngas, moreover, is showing tremendous leadership in providing valuable new Internet services for its traditional utility customers," added Martin Kidgell, vice president and managing director for National Asia Pacific.
"At Towngas, we are committed to delivering the best possible value-added service to our customers' homes," said Sunny Lee, CEO of iCare. "The set-top box jointly developed by Legend and National Semiconductor is an ideal access device that will satisfy the demand of our iCare customers. Now, using a handheld remote control that's just like a TV remote control, our customers can sit back on their sofas and surf the web through their TV sets."
Internet usage is exploding, partially because of the proliferation of different information appliances that enable people to get online. By 2005, according to research firm eTForecasts, approximately1.3 billion people will regularly be online. The advanced set-top box will help drive this growth by bringing easy-to-use Internet services to consumers. According to National's projections, the worldwide advanced set-top box market will grow more than 20 percent per year for the next three years, resulting in nearly 200 million new units built by 2003.
"In addition to Towngas, National has secured business with other ISPs to use set-top devices based on our Geode solutions," Kidgell said. "Our strategy is to match the needs of ISPs with Geode-based solutions offered by our direct customers. The Towngas iCare service is a great example of our partnership-oriented business model for information appliances, where National brings various partner companies together to provide a new value-added service for consumers. Our collaboration with Legend and Towngas is very similar to National's agreements with AOL, Philips and Inprimis for AOL's AOLTV service, which was announced in June of this year."
Legend Holdings Limited is the largest computer company in the PRC. Its own brand PC has been the country's best-selling PC since 1997 and had a market share of 26.3% in Q2 2000. Legend also took the lead in the Asia Pacific market (excluding Japan) in the same quarter.
Legend also distributes foreign brand IT products, provides systems integration services and manufactures motherboards. Recently, Legend has begun actively developing its Internet-related and e-Commerce-related business.
Legend was listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 1994 and is a constituent stock of the Hang seng Index. Its American Depositary Receipts are also traded in the United States. (Website at www.legend-holdings.com)
About The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Ltd
Founded in 1862, The Hong Kong and China Gas Company Limited (Towngas) was the first public utility company in Hong Kong. Its main business comprises gas production and transportation, marketing of gas and gas appliances as well as after-sales services. In 2000, the pipeline network extended to over 2,800 km, supplying gas to over 1.3 million residential, commercial and industrial customers. The Company has established joint ventures in mainland China and is actively developing other gas related businesses. In Hong Kong, the Company has diversified into other businesses including credit card, e-commerce, insurance and green business.
About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor provides system-on-a-chip solutions for the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of the-art digital technology, the company's chips lead many sectors of the personal computer, communications, and consumer markets. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $2.1 billion for its last fiscal year and has about 10,500 employees worldwide.