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

No. 344, May 1998

Issue Index

Japanese Companies in the US


SOFTWARE AND INFORMATION SERVICES

In a move to extend its Arcstar Internet service to the United States, NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. agreed to invest $100 million in VERIO INC. or to buy a 12.5 percent stake, whichever is less, before the Englewood, Colorado company goes public. The acquisition-minded Internet service provider has roughly 80,000 customers, mainly small and midsized businesses, located largely in 33 of the top 50 U.S. markets. Its goal is to develop a nationwide network or backbone. NTT plans to use its affiliation with Verio to target Japanese multinationals operating in the United States, offering to help them build Internet-based virtual private networks. The investment also will give Japan's top carrier first-hand experience with how foreign ISPs operate. Now free to offer services internationally, NTT is selectively investing in U.S. communications start- ups, including putting $100 million into TELIGENT LLC, which plans to build a nationwide digital microwave network (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 337, October 1997, p. 8).

Attempting to leverage all its assets, SONY CORP.'s primary subsidiary reorganized its year-old Internet entertainment site to focus more on offering games and game shows on-line produced by its SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. movie studio. It also formed SONY ONLINE ENTERTAINMENT INC. to manage StationSony.com. The site, which includes such game shows as "Jeopardy! Online" and "Wheel of Fortune," has nearly 1 million registered users.

In a key endorsement, FUJITSU, LTD. will sell and support SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris operating system for Unix servers based on INTEL CORP.'s architecture as opposed to Sun's SPARC platform. The pair will work on enhancements to Solaris, with the goal of offering corporate customers improved reliability, availability and serviceability. To this end, Fujitsu will join Sun's Solaris System Partners Business Council and dispatch a team to the United States to support the collaboration. The partners also will promote the development of applications for the Solaris operating system on Intel servers. Fujitsu is expected to ship the first Intel systems running Solaris in the second half of 1998, focusing on Japan and other Asian market.

HITACHI, LTD. is working with UNISYS CORP. on object-oriented software, starting with the joint development of an object-oriented COBOL compiler for the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania-headquartered company's ClearPath HMP IX system. Adding object-oriented technology to COBOL will enable companies to use effectively in the future the vast number of COBOL applications tied up in their enterprise systems. Under the agreement, Unisys gains worldwide rights to selected Hitachi OOCOBOL technologies, including its compiler front-end, class libraries, object browser, file/record designer and COBOL editor.

High-volume printed circuit board producer SUZUKI MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. acquired SSK TECHNOLOGY, INC. in a stock-for-stock swap. The Scotts Valley, California company is a network software developer and technology sales start-up. It will operate as a subsidiary of the Ibaraki prefecture manufacturer.

CAD (computer-aided design) data conversion software developer ASA SYSTEMS, INC. of Kitakyushu, Fukuoka prefecture has tied up with GLOBAL VISION TECHNOLOGY, INC. It invested $30,000 in the small Burlingame, California company, which develops software for Asian markets, localizes U.S. programs for sale in Japan and provides technical support via the Internet for American firms covering Japan. ASA Systems is using its relationship with Global Vision Technology in part to explore opportunities for expanding its business to new areas.

TOSHIBA CORP. and AVANT! CORP., an IC design automation software developer, are continuing work started last year on three-dimensional simulation of semiconductor fabrication processes. Under a multiyear pact, they will develop CAD software for incorporation in the Fremont, California company's forthcoming Taurus-Process for the design and fabrication of very deep submicron chips. Avant! will make available to Toshiba the simulation technology available in Taurus-Process for performing advanced modeling of 3D as well as 1D and 2D diffusion, oxidation, ion implantation and other processes. In return, the Japanese semiconductor maker will provide experimental data for simulation validation and details about cutting-edge process technology development requirements.

For just $99, anyone with a PC and Windows 95 can create digital content equal to that seen in films and games, says NICHIMEN GRAPHICS INC. about its new Nendo 3D modeling and 3D painting product. It now is available for workstations running SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris, but Windows NT and Windows 95 versions will be released shortly. Nendo is part of the NICHIMEN CORP. unit's N-World 3.2, a complete suite of development tools for interactive content creation.

Since many institutional investors use asset management software from NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. and BARRA INC. side by side to manage pension funds and other portfolios, the two companies will make their programs compatible to avoid duplicative data entry. The harmonization effort will begin with equity-related data and later will expand to bonds and other financial instruments. NRI's Pleiades system is used by about 200 financial services providers in Japan, while Berkeley, California Barra's risk assessment model is deployed by roughly 110 companies.

The fusion of PCs and consumer electronics products is expected to get a major boost from an agreement between SONY CORP. and MICROSOFT CORP. The consumer electronics giant will license to the software powerhouse its Home Networking Module for use with certain versions of the Windows CE embedded operating system. Sony's middleware supports the IEEE 1394 communications standard for connecting videocassette recorders with PCs or television set-top boxes, for example. At the same time, Microsoft will license Windows CE to Sony for use in unspecified future products.

Digital television decoder technology developed by HITACHI, LTD.'s Digital Media Systems Laboratory in Princeton, New Jersey will be licensed to INTEL CORP. That company will incorporate the All Format Decoder technology with software to enable PCs to decode digital TV signals, regardless of whether they are transmitted in high definition or standard definition or whether they are formatted in progressive scan or interlaced scan. Intel expects the Hitachi technology to be used in DTV trials later this year, with the first broadcast-ready PCs going on the market in 1999.

Pocket Monsters, the Americanized version of the Pokemon video game software so popular in Japan, will be released in the United States in September by developer NINTENDO CO., LTD. for portable GameBoy machines. Nintendo expects to sell 1 million copies of the action game.

An exchange rate of ¥132=$1.00 was used in this report.
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