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No. 364, January 2000

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American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Almost every month, IBM JAPAN LTD. has a new reason to be happy that it decided some time ago to sell to corporate Japan, particularly financial services providers, its ability to save them money by taking over their information technology systems. MUSASHINO BANK, LTD. is the latest business to outsource the development, maintenance, operation and management of its central data-processing equipment to IBM Japan. The 10-year contract, which will start in April 2000, will cost the midsize regional bank headquartered in Saitama prefecture approximately $262.1 million. However, Musashino Bank calculates that it will save roughly $48.5 million in direct operational expenses over that period. It also will be able to cut in half the staffing of its IT department. IBM Japan also will help the bank offer telephone and Internet banking services in the coming years.

One of the first decisions that IBM JAPAN LTD.'s new president made was to consolidate the company's three regional sales and marketing units into headquarters. The efficiency- enhancing move will take place February 1, 2000. Subsequently, IBM Japan's systems division will be in charge of major corporate accounts, while its general business division will handle marketing to small and midsize business customers.

The technical merits and the pricing of its higher-end ProLiant servers apparently have not enabled COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary to make inroads in the Unix-based server market as fast as it would like. To give users of Unix machines from the three biggest American suppliers and the top two Japanese vendors another reason to switch, Compaq is running a trade-in program through March 2000. Companies that have Unix servers that are less than four years old and that meet certain internal memory and hard-drive specifications are eligible to purchase discounted ProLiant 5500, 6400R, 8000 and 8500 servers. The residual value of their Unix servers is capped at $4,900.

Direct marketer GATEWAY, INC. is offering a complete menu of systems integration services to corporate customers — everything from design, network construction, and Internet connection and e-mail account setup to after-sale hardware and software support. These services are provided in conjunction with systems integration companies. .....In another strategy designed to build sales to business clients, GATEWAY, INC.'s subsidiary is giving customers that lease its PCs the option of buying investment protection. For an extra $60 or so a month per desktop unit, companies that lease 10 or more systems for two years can trade in half of the machines for new models after the first year and the rest a year later. The same type of trade-up program is available with three- year leases for an additional $45 per month per PC.

Just over two months after completing the purchase of SEQUENT COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC., a leader in high-end systems based on the NUMA (non-uniform memory access) architecture, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. is rolling out in Japan as well as in the United States its new subsidiary's third-generation NUMA-Q 1000 and 2000 enterprise-class servers under the IBM logo. These machines harness the power of up to 64 Pentium processors, including the Pentium III Xeon, but operate as a single system in such settings as data centers. By the spring of 2000, IBM JAPAN LTD. will absorb the Japanese subsidiary of Beaverton, Oregon-based Sequent and form a NUMA-Q business unit to market and support the IBM NUMA-Q servers.

HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. has revamped its HP NetServer line to offer corporate workgroups, branch offices and fast-expanding small businesses an affordable server tailored to their requirements. The new HP NetServer LC 2000 family is designed to be easy to install, configure and upgrade while providing high availability and intelligent management. On the performance side, the HP NetServer LC 2000 can support one or two Pentium III processors running at 533 MHz, 600 MHz, 667 MHz or 733 MHz with a 133-MHz front-side bus. It also allows room for considerable growth with the capacity to handle 4 GB of PC133 synchronous dynamic random access memory, 144 GB of hard- drive storage and six open PCI (peripheral component interconnect) slots. HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. priced the HP NetServer LC 2000 from $4,500.

Corporate environments engaged in Windows NT-based 3D modeling and animation, rendering, nonlinear video editing and other types of digital content creation have new options from three suppliers of PC Workstations. The latest models in HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s high-end, dual processor-capable HP Kayak XU800 line feature 600EB-MHz, 667-MHz or 733-MHz Pentium III processors with a 133-MHz front- side bus and the Intel 840 chipset. They offer the choice of as much as 1 GB of Direct Rambus DRAM memory or 2 GB of SDRAM memory and 9.1 GB, 18 GB or 15 GB of hard-disk capacity depending on the technology selected. HP Kayak XU800 pricing now starts at $6,200.

DELL COMPUTER CORP. has established new, more affordable price points for PC Workstation computing while at the same time boosting processor performance and graphics power. Just $2,000 will buy a low-end Precision Workstation 220 with a 533EB- MHz Pentium III engine, a 133-MHz front-side bus and an Intel 820 chipset, plus fast RDRAM system memory. The Precision Workstation 420 costs just $1,000 more for a 600EB-MHz Pentium III and an Intel 840 chipset.

Professional 3D animators have a more powerful tool available thanks to GATEWAY, INC.'s decision to package San Antonio, Texas-based NEWTEK's localized LightWave 3D 5.6J 3D animation software with its E-5200 workstation. On the hardware side, the E- 5200CG, which lists for $4,500, includes a 600-MHz Pentium III processor and up to 1 GB of 100-MHz SDRAM memory.

Corporate buyers looking for top performance in a desktop system but at an affordable price have two more choices from DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary. The latest member of the Dimension XPS B line is powered by an 800-MHz Pentium III processor with a 133-MHz front-side bus. Among other cutting-edge technology features, the system incorporates as much as 512 MB of RDRAM memory and 4X AGP (accelerated graphics port) graphics. Hard-drive storage is expandable to 40 GB. Yet, the Dimension XPS B800r starts at $2,700. Just a step down the technology ladder but several rungs lower in price is the newest Dimension XPS T model. It is built around a 750-MHz Pentium III and features up to 512 MB of SDRAM system memory and 40 GB of hard-drive capacity. However, the base configuration costs only $1,800.

For the real power user, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s direct sales unit introduced the dual processor-capable OptiPlex GX300 with a 733-MHz Pentium III processor, including a 133-MHz front-side bus, the Intel 820 chipset and 256 KB of integrated L2 cache. The PC800 RDRAM system memory can be expanded up to 1 GB, while hard-drive storage runs from 10 GB to 30 GB. The estimated street prices of the new OptiPlex GX300 models go from $1,900 to $2,700.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s latest entry in the price/performance desktop market is a pair of configure-to-order Prosignia Desktop 330 models. One uses a 600E-MHz Pentium III processor and the other a 700-MHz Pentium III chip. Otherwise, the range of options is the same: 64 MB to 384 MB of system memory, hard-drive capacities of 4.3 GB to 20 GB and Windows 2000 or Windows 98. The base configuration of the slower Prosignia Desktop 330 costs less than $1,800, while the 700-MHz version starts at $2,100.

The strength of demand in Japan, especially among consumers, for space-saving yet affordable desktop systems has caused one of the few departures from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s policy of selling the same products worldwide. With help from headquarters in Houston, Compaq's subsidiary developed the Deskpro EC. Featuring a 466-MHz Celeron processor and an 8-GB hard drive, the new product, which lists for $970, is claimed to be 20 percent smaller than space-saving models now available. Given the combination of size and price, Compaq figures that it can sell more than 100,000 Deskpro EC systems in 2000.

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People in the market for a notebook computer have four new choices from DELL COMPUTER CORP. One is the Japan-only Inspiron 2000, which weighs in at just 3.5 pounds and measures a skinny 1 inch in height. A 400-MHz mobile Pentium III processor with 256 KB of L2 cache and a 440BX chipset are at the heart of this machine. It also features 64 MB of SDRAM memory, a 4.8-GB hard drive and a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display with a SVGA (super video graphics array) resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. A number of bells and whistles also are included in the $1,900 price of the Inspiron 2000. .....The specifications of the Inspiron 2000 match almost exactly those of the Latitude LS H400ST, whether the size and weight or the processor and display. However, this DELL COMPUTER CORP. notebook comes standard with 128 MB of SDRAM memory. A 6.4-GB hard drive also can be installed. Those upgrades boost the price of the Latitude LS H400ST to $2,800. .....People who do not want to spend that much have two other options from DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary. The $1,800 Inspiron 3700 C433ST uses a 433-MHz implementation of the mobile Celeron processor and includes 32 MB of system memory and a 4.8-GB hard drive. The similarly equipped Inspiron 3700 C466ST with a faster 466-MHz processor goes for $2,000.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. hopes that the all-in-one design of its OmniBook XE2 enables it to stand out in the crowded market for business-targeted notebooks. Said to be ready to operate right out of the box, this machine offers a choice of 450-MHz or 500-MHz Pentium III, 366-MHz or 400-MHz mobile Pentium II or 433-MHz mobile Celeron processors, 32 MB or 64 MB of SDRAM expandable to 256 MB, a 4.8-GB or a 6-GB hard drive, and a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display with VGA resolution (800 x 600 pixels) or a 14.1-inch XGA active-matrix TFT display. Pricing of the OmniBook XE2 starts at $2,500.

Internet caching — the process of storing frequently accessed Web pages and Internet content on local servers to speed information access and lower network communications costs — is starting to catch on with Japan's server manufacturers. The primary beneficiary of this trend is NOVELL, INC. Last fall, the big software house licensed its Novell Internet Caching System to NEC CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 18). Now, Novell has added HITACHI, LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. as licensees. Hitachi will develop an Internet caching appliance for the Japanese market based on the Hitachi Advanced Server HA 8000 Series. The platform for Toshiba's competing product, also destined for sale at home, will be the Magnia server series. The Magnia CS10 Cache Server, like the Hitachi appliance, will be marketed to companies of all sizes that operate e-business Web sites.

Before yearend 1999, the subsidiary of enterprise storage systems leader EMC CORP. expected to complete the integration of DATA GENERAL CORP.'s Japanese operations. The Hopkinton, Massachusetts manufacturer acquired DG in mid-October. The CLARiiON midrange storage business of DATA GENERAL JAPAN INC. will be merged into EMC JAPAN K.K., providing a complement to that company's high-end Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems and software. Data General Japan will continue to operate as an independent division of EMC Japan. It will be responsible for selling, servicing and supporting the AViiON line of Windows NT and Unix server products. EMC Japan expects the addition of the DG storage line to help it double its market share to 20 percent.

Workgroup and departmental applications that require low-cost RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage are the marketing focus of DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s PowerVault 211S floor-standing SCSI (small computer system interface) external storage system. The $3,700 unit features hot-plug hard drives, a splittable backplane for duplexing drives and scalability up to 108 GB using 9-GB drives or to double that amount with 18- GB drives.

The expanding HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. line of automated backup products now includes a model aimed at enterprise and departmental servers, where 18 GB to 80 GB of hard-disk storage needs to be backed up unattended. The HP SureStore DLT (digital linear tape) Autoloader 818 is powered by a DLT8000 drive. The $18,600 system provides 640 GB of capacity and a sustained transfer rate of up to 12 MB per second, both assuming a 2:1 data compression ratio.

In its second new product announcement in as many months (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 19), QUANTUM CORP.'s subsidiary introduced the Quantum Atlas 10K II. This 10,000-rotations-per-second SCSI drive is targeted at powerful workstations and servers as well as at high-transaction, data-intensive applications. It features a fast 4.7 millisecond average seek time, plus a sustained data throughput rate of up to 40 MB per second. The Atlas 10K II, which should be available in commercial quantities in Japan sometime in the spring of 2000, is built to handle capacities of 9.2 GB, 18.4 GB, 36.7 GB and a record 73.4 GB. Quantum's subsidiary set sample prices for OEM customers between $400 and $1,600.

In their third tie-up, MICROTEST INC. has tapped ARK INFORMATION SYSTEMS INC. to sell its DiscZerver VT, a Linux-based optical storage appliance, under the Tokyo company's brand name. The announcement of this deal coincided with the Phoenix, Arizona company's release of Japanese-language operating software for the VT that provides double-byte support for Japanese directory and file names. It also supports a fully localized version of the administrative user interface. The earlier distribution arrangements covered software for optical storage appliances — specifically, Microtest's Virtual CD, of which Ark has sold more than 150,000 copies since July 1997, and a localized version of DiscPort Executive for NT, which is used for enterprise device-sharing. Ark also will handle Microtest's LinuxZerver and the forthcoming FileZerver.

ZEN RESEARCH INC., the developer of the True-X and Multibeam technologies for improving optical disc drive performance, licensed SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. to produce DVD Multibeam optical pickups for sale under its brand name. In simplified terms, the Cupertino, California firm's Multibeam technology enables DVD as well as CD drives to overcome the performance limitations of conventional single-beam technology. Zen Research has been working with KENWOOD CORP. to bring its TrueX know-how to the market. Their latest CD-ROM (read-only memory) drive has a read speed of 72X, a record (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 4).

The first company to offer a touch-enabled Apple iMac system in Japan is MICROTOUCH SYSTEMS, INC. TouchStation combines the Methuen, Massachusetts firm's extremely durable ClearTek 3000 capacitive touch screen and a USB controller with a standard iMac configuration. Available in all five iMac colors, this product is aimed at such public-access applications as self-service kiosks as well as interactive multimedia kiosks in the retail, business, government and entertainment markets. MicroTouch also expects TouchStation to be used in education. Its subsidiary priced the system at $2,100.

A San Jose, California start-up that develops fingerprint recognition systems formed a Tokyo subsidiary to market products based on biometrics technology, which uses a person's unique physical characteristics for personal identification and verification. SECUGEN CORP. has a 65 percent stake in the eponymous company. Accounting firm BUSINESS BRAIN SHOWA-OTA, INC. owns the rest of the joint venture. Its first job is to persuade PC manufacturers to integrate SecuGen's EyeD mouse, which is priced between $100 and $145, with their products. In time, though, the company will market the fingerprint recognition system to makers of door locks and automated teller machine cards.

MEDIAQ INC., the Santa Clara, California developer of the first LCD/CRT two- dimensional graphics controller with embedded DRAM for digital consumer electronic appliances (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 22), has scored a breakthrough. NEC CORP. will offer the initial devices incorporating the MQ-200. This technology will power new color display models in the NEC MobileGear series of handheld computing devices. These Japan-only products, MediaQ says, will have unprecedented levels of color, clarity and functionality, the latter including several Internet applications. They also will feature 10 hours of battery life.

An exchange rate of ¥103=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaa

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