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

No. 343, April 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Production of DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. desktop PCs for the local market has been switched to the company's Tama plant in Tokyo from Taiwan. The move is designed to make DEC a more nimble competitor in Japan's sluggish PC market. For better inventory control, its subsidiary will shift to a build-to-order system. At some unspecified time, DEC Japan will add production of minitower models and machines with liquid crystal display monitors to the output of the Tama factory, which was renovated before DEC gave it a new mission.

IBM JAPAN LTD. is taking several steps to better support companies marketing its symmetric multiprocessing RS/6000 servers, which use PowerPC RISC processors and run the AIX operating system, the in-house version of Unix. Among other changes, RS/6000 systems now are manufactured to order at IBM Japan's Fujisawa plant in Kanagawa prefecture. The company also has formed a technical support task force to backstop its RS/6000 business partners, as its distributors are called.

Managing other companies' computer systems is turning out to be a growth business for IBM JAPAN LTD. In just the last few months, DAIWA BANK, LTD. and SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. decided to outsource most or all of their information technology work to IBM Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 12, and No. 341, February 1998, p. 12). Now, OMRON CORP., adopting the same strategy as Daiwa Bank, has formed a joint venture with IBM Japan to oversee the development, operation and maintenance of the Kyoto manufacturer's IT system and those of its affiliates. Omron put up 65 percent of the capital for the new company and supplied 60 of the firm's 70 employees. Despite the joint venture structure, IBM Japan will be responsible for operations and maintenance. In time, the partners hopes to win outsourcing contracts from non-Omron Group companies.

Also climbing on the outsourcing bandwagon, UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary is offering two specialized services. Netman, a network operating management support service, provides remote monitoring of a company's network. Helpman, a distributed system operations management support system, offers technical support, such as help desk service and multivendor service. Unisys sees Netman and Helpman developing into a $19.4 million business in the first year.

Distributors of HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. PC servers that also do system construction as well as system integrators using HP Japan products can get help on two fronts from the company. Through the Preinstall Service, HP Japan basically will build PC servers to order, including the necessary software. That work costs about $195 per machine. The company also will check the operation of servers once they are installed. The Start-up Service is priced at roughly $390 per PC server. HP Japan expects the new services to cover 10,000 systems a year.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. and its business partner of seven years, OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD., have set up the OLTP Competence Center to provide technical support services to customers of both companies that are building on-line transaction processing systems. The 40 engineers on staff, who have been detailed in equal numbers from the two parents, bring to their design work HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s expertise in Unix servers and Oki Electric's Tuxedo middleware. The center is projecting revenues of $232.6 million in three years. Among other linkages between the two firms, Oki Electric sells various HP Unix servers on an original equipment manufacturer basis.

In an efficiency-enhancing move, the local product development unit of APPLE COMPUTER INC.'s subsidiary has been integrated into the Tokyo parent. Although owned by Apple's subsidiary, the former Apple Technology Inc. received funding from the American parent and maintained a separate administrative apparatus. Some 50 people transferred to headquarters as a result of the merger.

To protect its position in the high-end enterprise, engineering and scientific computing market, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. released in Japan as well as in the United States the HP 9000 V-Class Enterprise and Exemplar Server. Running on HP's new 240-MHz PA-8200 64-bit RISC microprocessor, the HP 9000 V2250 is billed as the industry's most powerful, cost-effective high-end computing solution. Japan pricing begins at $292,200 for a base system, which includes one central processing unit, 256 megabytes of memory and an unlimited license to the 64-bit HP-UX operating system. .....The 240-MHz PA-8200 microprocessor also is at the heart of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s simultaneously released HP 9000 K380 and K580 Enterprise Servers. These midrange additions, designed for such applications as data warehousing and Web hosting, offer performance boosts over existing K-Class models. In Japan, the Model K380 base system with a single processor and 128 megabytes of memory starts at $118,600, while the entry-level Model K580, which also has one MPU but 256 megabytes of memory, goes for $141,900. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is projecting combined sales of the three new machines at 6,000 units a year, including shipmemts by OEM marketing partners HITACHI, LTD., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., NEC CORP. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD.

Internet service providers and Web supersites have a new high- performance option in the WebFORCE Origin200 QuickCache server from SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s subsidiary. In company tests, the system, which benefits from expanded secondary cache and a faster cache speed, posted Web-serving performance records in both a two-processor and a four- processor configuration. Like other members of the Origin family, the $16,200-and-up WebFORCE Origin200 QC is powered by MIPS R10000 64- bit RISC processors.

Braving the recently inhospitable corporate PC market, HEWLETT- PACKARD CO. announced in the United States and elsewhere the HP Vectra VL Series 7. The Pentium II-powered five-member family replaces the HP Vectra VL Series 5 and Series 6 PCs. In addition to refreshing the features of the Series 6 with an Ultra ATA interface, synchronous DRAM memory and an advanced configuration and power interface for power management, the desktop and minitower models use AGP (accelerated graphic port) graphics technology and can be turned on and off remotely using LAN (local area network) cards from any major vendor. Windows NT 4.0 is preloaded, but the systems are Windows NT 5.0-ready. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has priced the high-end model with a 333-MHz processor at $3,400. The entry-level HP Vectra VL Series 7 starts at $2,800.

Although sales of laptops remain strong, competitors are adding one or more features that they hope will make their machines stand out in a crowded market. For COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary, a big selling point of the top-of-the-line Armada 1598DMT is a 13.3-inch color active- matrix display with 1024x768 resolution and up to 64,000 colors. The notebook, which uses a 266-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology and features a 4-gigabyte SMART hard drive and a USB port, is priced at $4,700. .....For its part, UNISYS CORP.'s affiliate is touting the extended battery life of the Aquanta EN/M notebook line, which uses a mobile Pentium processor with MMX technology running at speeds up to 266 MHz and features 512 kilobytes of Level 2 pipeline burst cache, a PCI (peripheral component interconnect) local bus, an active-matrix display and integrated stereo speakers. In tests, the battery lasted nearly 6 hours between charges.

A second-generation subnotebook is on the market from RIOS SYSTEMS CO., LTD., a Yokohama-based partnership between IBM JAPAN LTD. and RICOH CO., LTD. The Chandra II incorporates a 166-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, plus a 9.2-inch active-matrix display and a 2.16-gigabyte hard drive. It is smaller and lighter (just 2.6 pounds) than the original Chandra, which had sales of 35,000 units in 1997. The $1,900-or-so Chandra II is available on an OEM basis through HITACHI, LTD. and two other companies.

Going up against NEC CORP. and some other big-name Japanese competitors, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has introduced a handheld PC running the Japanese-language version of Windows CE 2.0. The second- generation HP620LX, which uses a SuperH SH3 32-bit RISC processor from HITACHI, LTD., is priced around $930. Despite the competition, which includes Hitachi, HP Japan expects to move 15,000 units a month. It previously had tested the water for handheld PCs by selling the American version of the HP620LX.

The prime promoter of network computers, ORACLE CORP., has launched a campaign to persuade business to try the less-expensive alternative to PCs. Its subsidiary has enlisted some 30 systems integrators, including FUJITSU, LTD. and NEC CORP., to sell corporate Japan on the idea. FUNAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and UNIDEN CORP. are supplying the hardware for Oracle's NCs, which went on sale at the end of March. The company is optimistic that it can sell 100,000 units in the first year of marketing.

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IBM JAPAN LTD. is hoping that Japanese-language speech recognition software will help it sell home PCs in the sluggish market for these machines. Two additions to the Aptiva E Series come with ViaVoice Gold, which allows users to open files and e-mail, format text, surf the Internet and do other jobs just using a normal speaking voice. Powered by a K6 processor from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC., the E1AV and the E2AV have estimated street prices of $1,600 and $1,900, respectively.

A new family of SPARCengine CompactPCI embedded-board computers is on the market from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary. The SPARCengine CP 1200 board, which utilizes a low power-consuming, high- performance 100-MHz microSPARC processor, is designed for applications that normally require rack-mounted systems with high-speed backplane bus architectures. Typical uses for the $1,800 board are embedded computing applications, telecommunications controllers, and industrial automation and control. The $7,700 SPARCengine CP 1500 board is targeted at mission-critical jobs that demand high performance and integration in a single-slot CompactPCI design, including communications, military and industrial control applications. It is powered by a 64-bit UltraSPARC IIi V9 superscalar processor.

First-year sales of 500 units are projected for the CPCI-16-1, a high- speed, high-precision, multifunction, plug-in data-acquisition system for CompactPCI from ANALOGIC CORP. The board uses a 16-bit, 200-kilohertz sampling analog/digital converter. INTERNIX, INC., the Peabody, Massachusetts firm's distributor since last October, is touting the $1,900 board's easy user access, excellent heat dissipation and secure mounting — features required for rigorous industrial and mobile applications.

Internet security with a twist is being offered by SONIC SYSTEMS INC. and marketing ally MITSUBISHI CORP. The Sunnyvale, California firm's Interpol hardware/software solution provides standard firewall security features but also can filter Internet sites based on a predefined list of URLs or content-checking rules. While its low cost — $2,700 — and ease of use will appeal to administrators of small networks, the built-in content filter will attract attention from educational institutions worried about students accessing inappropriate Web materials. A remote access server from SONIC SYSTEMS INC., QuickStream Pro, is described as simple to install, configure and use because it supports a wide variety of clients and offers Web browser-based remote administration tools. The less than $1,400 system is available through distributor MITSUBISHI CORP.

A new Intelligent Storage Network architecture is key to SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s drive to double the size of its worldwide storage business by the year 2001. Based on a Unix SMP server running an operating system that controls storage functions, this technology allows buyers to build storage networks matched to their application server, whether it is built by Sun Microsystems or another company. In Japan, the first product to incorporate the new architecture is the high-end StorEdge A7000 Intelligent Storage Server, which uses two quad-processor Unix computers instead of more typical fixed-function controllers. Its data- sharing and remote copy features allow customers to actualize their data separate from the original repository.

Through its new Tokyo office, COMPUTER NETWORK TECHNOLOGY CORP. introduced the UltraNet Storage Director, a high-speed switching platform that allows users to move and share data among servers and mainframe, Windows NT and Unix storage system platforms. It does this by establishing a direct connection between storage devices via a SAN or storage area network technology. In addition to shared storage and shared data, the UltraNet Storage Director supports disk mirroring, backup/restore, archive/retrieve and data migration functions. Available in 12-slot or six-slot models, the product is priced from $124,000. Minneapolis-based CNT hopes to sell 20 systems in Japan.

The subsidiary of one of the leaders in high-capacity storage solutions, STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORP., will soon release a disk subsystem that addresses the requirements of Windows NT and Unix servers alike. The 9153 OPENstorage offers complete redundancy. Its disk controller can be configured for either Ultra-SCSI (small computer system interface) or Fibre Channel host attachment. The deskside version can handle five to 10 drives, each providing 9 or 18 gigabytes of storage. A stackable rack- mounted 9153 subsystem can be loaded with anywhere from five to 40 drives in 10-drive increments for a maximum capacity of 720 gigabytes in one unit or 1.4 terabytes in two.

In an attempt to boost its 3.5-inch hard disk drive business, MAXTOR CORP.'s subsidiary will increase its now eight-person marketing staff. Their mission is twofold: to expand the volume of OEM sales to Japanese desktop PC manufacturers and suppliers of external upgrade drives and, at the same time, to persuade more PC retailers to stock Maxtor's own brand-name products. The San Jose, California company hopes that a new product will make the marketing job easier. The DiamondMax 2880 is a 3.5-inch EIDE (enhanced integrated drive electronics) drive that supports Ultra DMA Mode for up to a 33-megabit-per-second data transfer performance and has an average seek time of 9 milliseconds. Although available in a range of capacities, the first DiamondMax 2880 released in Japan stores 11.5 gigabytes of data. It is priced at $480.

Sample shipments will start in June of what IBM JAPAN LTD. claims is the highest-capacity 2.5-inch slimline hard disk drive for notebook computers. The Travelstar 6GT holds 6.4 gigabytes of data, thanks to the first implementation of INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s GMR (giant magneto-resistive) head technology in a notebook computer hard drive. A 5.4-gigabyte version of the Travelstar 6GT, which is about the size of a deck of playing cards, also will be available. The higher-capacity model will be sample-priced at $935.

The first licensing agreement for the production and sale of IOMEGA CORP.'s Clik! portable storage drive has been signed. CITIZEN WATCH CO., LTD. will manufacture Clik! drives for use in its own portable electronics products. It also will sell them to OEMs and consumers worldwide (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 12). Through ultrasmall 40-megabyte Clik! disks, the drives bring affordable removable storage to existing and future portable digital products, including digital cameras, handheld computers, personal digital assistants and smart cellular phones. Both the retail and the OEM versions of the drive are expected to be available in the United States in the second half of 1998.

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PEERLESS SYSTEMS CORP. has helped yet another Japanese manufacturer bring a color laser printer to market. KYOCERA CORP.'s FS-5800C is the first product to use the El Segundo, California firm's new QuickPrint 1800 coprocessor as part of its imaging system. It also incorporates optimized versions of the PeerlessPage object-based imaging system and the Peerless-Print 5C, an emulation of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s PCL5C. The FS-5800C prints 3.5 pages a minute in four colors with a resolution of 600 dots per inch. It is designed for corporate environments.

An external print server compatible with HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s printers and its Web JetAdmin network printer management software is being sold by its subsidiary for roughly $350. As its name suggests, the JetDirect 300XEthernet 10/100TX provides automatic switching for 100- megabit-per-second 100Base-TX networks. If the print server is attached to the printer through a Centronics parallel connection, data only is transferred from the network to the printer. If the printer supports a bidirectional connection, the print server also can receive printer identification and status information. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. projects first-year sales of the box-type product, which is preset for optimum network speed, at 50,000 units.

CALCOMP CORP.'s subsidiary, which has been moving aggressively in recent months to build sales, is touting the improved performance, print quality, ease of use and reliability that the CrystalJet brings to ink-jet large- format printing compared with thermal printers. The key to these advances is piezo ink-jet technology. Able to print 720 dots per inch for photorealistic-quality images in just 10 minutes, the two models of the CrystalJet print media either 42 inches in width or 54 inches. Both automatically pick the correct ink droplet size for the resolution and the media selected.

The PowerStorm 4D50T graphics accelerator, new from DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary, provides direct acceleration of OpenGL three-dimensional applications. It is optimized for such technical tasks as mechanical CAD (computer-aided design) and geographic information systems. However, the PowerStorm 4D50T also is designed to handle a full range of visualization applications, including computer animation, since it delivers trilinear perspective-corrected texture maps for outstanding realism. This performance is the result in part of the use of a 64-bit Alpha processor. PowerStorm 4D50T is fully supported by Windows NT as well as DEC's version of Unix.

With the JetEye PC infrared adapter from EXTENDED SYSTEMS INC., users of Windows-based mobile computing devices — portable PCs, PDAs, Windows CE handheld computers or digital cameras — can quickly move data to desktop computers without cables. The product works with Infrared Data Association-compliant software to establish the infrared data link. JetEye PC also includes QuickBeam, a file-transfer program that allows users to transfer files with a single click of a mouse button. It is being handled by Tokyo-headquartered CF CO., INC., a distributor for the Boise, Idaho manufacturer since 1995.

Two-button and three-button models of the PilotMouse from LOGITECH, INC. are available. Tokyo-based distributor LOGICOOL CO., LTD. has priced the Fremont, California firm's products at $27 and $35, respectively. The extra buttons can be customized.

If its purchase of INTERMART SYSTEMS K.K. goes through, Los Gatos, California-based SCM MICROSYSTEMS, INC. will gain the in-country engineering, marketing and product support capabilities that it believes are necessary for doing business with Japanese OEMs. Intermart Systems develops, manufactures and sells PC-based devices that provide access to various small form factor digital media, including PCMCIA, CompactFlash and SmartMedia. That business is similar to SCM Microsystems'. Under a letter of intent, SCM Microsystems will pay $8 million for the company, although the price could be $4 million higher if Intermart Systems meets certain performance criteria in the first year after acquisition. Intermart Systems, which has OEM relationships with a number of big-name local companies, had revenues equivalent to $3 million in the April-December 1997 period.

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