Follow the leader

Follow the leader

Online analytics researchers Digital Daya reported that US President Barack Obama is the top tweeter among world leaders, with 5.6 million followers; the big news was the world leader who came No 9 in the results: Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva of Thailand, with 137,000 followers; Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan was the only other Asian in the Top 10, at number five, while the second biggest surprise on the list was Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan - the third most-followed leader, after Mr Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron; for those who aren't following Asia's only British-born prime minister on Twitter, he is at (@PM - Abhisit).

The obsessively focused blog Inside Facebook reported that Thailand - "long considered a bastion of the fading social networking site Hi5" - is the third-fastest growing market for Facebook; in 12 months from last Oct 1, the number of Thai users grew by 320 percent, to 5.4 million, putting the country at Number 21 in the world; at that rate, said the analysis, Facebook will pass Hi5 in Thailand by New Year's Eve; at least this is one area in which Thailand will simply smash Vietnam, is in number of Facebook users, since the Vietnamese authorities block Facebook and "encourage" patriotic citizens to use the government-owned network (go.vn).

Representatives of the top three yuppiephone firms AIS, Dtac and True Move met with Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij, with a single message: We don't care how you do it, we don't care who does it, just make third-generation mobile phone service happen; Mr Korn assured them he could not see any problems.

The deadline set in stone by Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij for the conversion of mobile phone concessions to licences passed without even a murmur from the minister; perhaps he forgot that he issued an ironclad, no-excuses order for the switch to happen by Oct 27 or there would be Heck to pay; the deadline passed and Heck is still broke.

The parliamentary panel which has failed since 1997 to appoint a National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said it wants to change the proposed law, because the 15-person board that the Senate wants is too big; Suphan Buri Sen Prasit Pothasuthon, head of the committee, said an 11-person board would be preferable; he would get from 15 to 11 by cutting the designated members from security firms and the civil service, because it would be far better to have a telecoms board with more experts on religion and social development.

The National Telecommunications Commission, severely chastened and facing demands for super-annuation, basically went on strike, although kindly people said the NTC had decided to "play it safe" after being slapped down by the Supreme Administrative Court; the Magnificent Seven simply stopped all work related to telecoms licensing; private operators see serious stagnation ahead, after what 3G supporters and the NTC followers call frankly "a day of defeat."

Loxley Plc, that most unlikely of all firms to run a 3G phone service, announced that it is preparing to sign a joint-venture agreement with Mobile Partners Group of Britain to do just that; the proposed firm will develop services to become a "full MVNO" (mobile virtual network operator) for your ToT, providing 3G links as well as integrated services from marketing, management, billing and after-sales services to customer relationship management.

The Microsoft search engine Bing has a translation service that is equal to that of Google in handling English-Thai, which is either a compliment or the opposite; it is at http://www.bingtranslator.com.

Microsoft dweebs went from computer show to show in Europe, demonstrating a new customer relations (CRM) program that operates in the cloud; executives in Thailand will be among the first to get the Microsoft sales pitch once the shows in London, Prague and the Hague are over this week; Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be accessible via the web and already speaks Thai; the Microsoft PR machine announced that pricing had already been set for the software, but in all the excitement forgot to detail it.

Toyota Motor announced it will start producing and selling the popular Prius gasoline-electric hybrid at its Thai Gateway Plant factory by next month; the Thai production will replace and seriously ramp up the paltry assembly line from China, now abandoned, and supplement the Prius made in Japan - but the Thailand-made models will not be exported.

Malaysian scientists working for the Ministry of Health announced plans to release thousands of mutant mosquitoes to try to defeat dengue, which has already killed more than 120 Malaysians this year alone; Prime Minister Najib Razak said the pilot project will release the genetically modified male insects in two trial areas next month; the goal is to have them mate with females, and produce offspring which die more quickly, and thus decimate the population of Aedes aegypti over a short period.

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