Group teams on Asian electronic software distribution

Germany’s Asknet AG has teamed with Japan’s SoftBank BB Corp. in a new joint venture aimed at providing electronic software distribution services in the Asia market.

The new venture, Asknet BB, will operate out of Tokyo and target Asia software producers eager to use electronic distribution as a new channel to the market, the companies said Wednesday.

SoftBank currently serves more than 1,200 Japanese software producers. The company, with a 60 percent stake in the joint venture, will support sales, marketing, administration and payments.

Asknet, to own the remaining 40 percent, will contribute its electronic distribution technology, portals and other technical services.

The company, based in Karlsruhe, Germany, offers software makers its portal, the largest download platform for standard software in Europe, with a catalog of around 7,000 software products from more than 400 vendors, according to its Web site.

Asknet’s range of services includes the sale and delivery of packet versions, downloads, licenses and updates. Its logistics system, for instance, enables continuous mapping of all processes, including ordering, payment and delivery, according to its Web site. Customers are able to tack every order in near real-time on the company’s Web-based operations control module.

Today, electronic distribution accounts for only 1 percent of all software sold, according to Asknet, which was spun out of the Karlsruhe University in 1995. But the company said it sees substantial growth potential, quoting market forecasts from IDC that the market volume for electronic software distribution, currently worth US$2.5 billion, will increase 35 percent annually over the next five years.

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