Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 343, April 1998

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Japanese Companies in the US


One of the big American names in batteries, RAYOVAC CORP., will continue to receive technical assistance from MATSUSHITA BATTERY INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. through the year 2003. Under the extended technology license, the world's largest producer of portable batteries will provide the latest in alkaline battery designs, technology and manufacturing equipment to Rayovac. The Madison, Wisconsin-based company will buy a state-of-the- art alkaline battery production line from Matsushita Battery for installation at its Fennimore, Wisconsin plant, which currently has four production lines designed and built by the Japanese company. Rayovac has the option of buying other lines from Matsushita Battery during the agreement's life. In addition, it will source certain finished products, battery parts and material to supplement domestic output.

The first DVD (digital video disc) players to incorporate SRS LABS, INC.'s TruSurround are in stores. With this surround-sound technology, PIONEER ELECTRONIC CORP.'s DV505, DV-606D and DVL-909 DVD Players deliver the six channels of Dolby Digital sound encoded on laser discs and DVDs through a pair of standard stereo speakers. These second-generation DVD products have estimated street prices of $400 to $1,100. Pioneer also has on the market the VSX-D507S and the VSX-D457 audio-video receivers, which allow users to take advantage of TruSurround from a Dolby ProLogic input source.

Acknowledging the market power in the United States of NINTENDO CO., LTD.'s 64-bit Nintendo 64 home video game machine and SONY CORP.'s 32-bit PlayStation, SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. pulled the plug on its Sega Saturn machine. U.S. sales of the Sega Saturn were just an estimated 100,000 units in FY 1997, off a whopping 90 percent-plus from the previous year. That plunge put Sega's Redwood City, California subsidiary deep in the red and forced a retrenchment at the American operation. The company, the largest maker of arcade-type video game machines, says that it will be back in the U.S. home video game market, hopefully next year. It is working with MICROSOFT CORP. on a next-generation product that will feature advanced image processing and networking capabilities.

An exchange rate of ¥129=$1.00 was used in this report.

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