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

No. 344, May 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

In a U.S.-style tender offer, NCR CORP. bought the publicly traded 30 percent share of NCR JAPAN, LTD. that it did not own directly or indirectly for around $300 million. The Japanese unit, which posted a revenue gain of 9.8 percent in 1997 to $841.7 million, was the only NCR subsidiary in which the Dayton, Ohio data warehousing and computer company did not own all the shares. NCR Japan is reported to have about 60 percent of the rapidly expanding local market for data warehousing. It also is strong in computerized point-of-sale systems for supermarkets. Following the takeover, NCR Japan was delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the Osaka Securities Exchange.

In the wake of the collapse of HOKKAIDO TAKUSHOKU BANK, LTD. last year, IBM JAPAN LTD. made previously jointly owned SYSTEM FRONTIER CO., LTD. of Sapporo a wholly owned information services subsidiary. The renamed IBM GLOBAL SERVICES JAPAN SOLUTION AND SERVICES CO., LTD. added to its staff of 190 some 300 people formerly employed by a computer affiliate of the Hokkaido bank. By October, it will hire 160 ex-employees of the bank's systems department for an eventual work force of 650. The IBM Japan unit designs, develops and maintains information technology systems for corporate customers as well as handles outsourcing of computer operations.

A NonStop Himalaya S7000 server is at the heart of the data warehousing system that COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary constructed for SNOW BRAND ACCESS CO., LTD., a Tokyo food wholesaler affiliated with SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. The first such system deployed in Japan's food wholesale business, it stores data on nearly 700 million nationwide sales transactions. This information can be retrieved and analyzed on a PC spreadsheet. The fault-tolerant, high-availability and scalable NonStop Himalaya S7000 server is a product of Compaq-owned TANDEM COMPUTERS, INC.

In its first such arrangement with a local distributor, the subsidiary of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. named OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD. a build-to-order partner for PCs. The world's top PC seller will deliver components to Otsuka Shokai's facility in Tokyo so that it can customize machines for its corporate customers. The turnaround is between three and five days. Compaq will continue to assemble PCs for its other Japanese distributors, although it is open to authorizing additional companies to be BTO firms.

IBM JAPAN LTD. is marketing a new solution for big corporations with such demanding applications as data warehousing, enterprise resource planning, server consolidation and on-line transaction processing. It is a RS/6000 SP Unix parallel server bundled with ORACLE CORP.'s Oracle8 relational data base management software, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s TXSeries and IBM Serial Storage Architecture disk subsystems. It set world records for the number of transactions per minute and the number of concurrent users performing transactions on the system. These capabilities are not inexpensive. The smallest configuration of the new RS/6000 SP, which runs off multiple PowerPC 604e processors, costs $143,300.

Internet service providers and other organizations that need to manage massive amounts of data quickly and efficiently are the target customers for the latest iteration of SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s Origin2000 Unix server. Like other members of the series, it can scale from one to 128 MIPS 64-bit RISC processors. This model, though, is powered by a 250-MHz version of that engine. The same processor is available in the Cray Origin2000 from SGI subsidiary CRAY RESEARCH, INC. A machine with two processors and 4 megabytes of system memory starts at $101,400, including annual support. SGI's local operation is projecting sales of 250 units annually.

Technical customers running Unix or Windows NT applications have a new option in the Digital Ultimate Workstation 533a2 and 533au2 from DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary. Although featuring a pair of 533- MHz 21164 Alpha 64-bit RISC processors, the machines are priced below workstations with a single, slower chip. The list price of the 533a2 starts at $43,900 with 64 MB of system memory, a 4.3-gigabyte disk drive and Windows NT Workstation 4.0, while a similarly configured 533au2 running Digital Unix 4.0B begins at $45,800.

The Digital Personal Workstation 333MHz i+ also is shipping from DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s local unit. It features the most powerful INTEL CORP. processor on the market, the 333-MHz version of the Pentium II, as well as Intel's new 440LX AGP chipset, which supports AGP and synchronous DRAM for a significant boost in 3D graphics performance. The 333MHz i+ also runs a variety of industry-standard graphics accelerators. The base model has an estimated street price of $4,900, while the high-end version goes for $8,600 or so. Both have Windows NT Workstation 4.0 preinstalled.

Competing products, the Kayak XW PC Workstations from HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD., are on the market. They, too, use Pentium II processors running at 333 MHz. Equipped with HP Visualize fx4 graphics, the machines are touted as outperforming all other Windows NT-based 3D workstations. The entry-level member of the line, priced around $7,100, supports dual 333-MHz Pentium II chips and a 440LX AGP-based system architecture. HP Japan is projecting yearly sales of 25,000 Kayak PC Workstations.

DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary is going after the same customer base with the PowerEdge 2200, which also can support one or two 333-MHz Pentium II processors. The basic configuration of the Windows NT Workstation 4.0 machine is priced at $3,100. HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s OpenView NNM Special Edition is standard.

A pair of aggressively priced entry-level servers is one way SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. is trying to capture the business of small workgroups. Both the Sun Enterprise Ultra 5S server and the Sun Enterprise Ultra 10S server feature the UltraSPARC-IIi 64-bit RISC processor and the Solaris enterprise operating environment and have high-performance PCI (peripheral component interconnect) buses for fast data transfer. Equipped with a 270-MHz UltraSPARC-IIi processor, the 5S model costs $4,500 for 64 MB of memory and 4.2 GB of storage. The base minitower 10S system, which uses a 300-MHz version of the chip but otherwise has the same capacities as the 5S, lists for $6,400.

Budget-conscious customers of Windows NT machines are the target market for DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s Digital Server Family. Less than $1,800 buys branch offices, enterprise workgroups or small businesses the Digital Server 500, which is powered by a 233-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology. With one or two 266-MHz Pentium II processors, the Digital Server 1205 provides a platform for file/print, BackOffice or Web services for $2,900. The pedestal Digital Server 3205 and the rack- mounted Digital Server 3205R, which offer a choice of one or two Pentium II or Pentium Pro processors, are departmental servers at what is labeled a file/print server price: $4,000 and $5,500, respectively.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has bundled MICROSOFT CORP.'s Small Business Server software with its ProSignia 200 PC server for $5,800. The server runs off a 300-MHz Pentium II processor.

Virtually alone among American competitors, GATEWAY 2000, INC. has out a new desktop PC machine in what is still a flat market for these systems. As the model number suggests, the GP6-233 is powered by a 233-MHz Pentium II processor. Like other desktops with this engine, it offers 32 MB of system memory, a 4-GB hard drive, a 32X CD-ROM drive, a x2 modem and Microsoft Office 97 for $1,200.

Although the network computer market has been slow to develop in Japan, prime backer NETWORK COMPUTER, INC. keeps plugging away. Among other moves, the Redwood Shores, California company signed an agreement with FUJI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. to manufacture NCs incorporating NCI's NC Administration Server and NC Desktop enabling software. The NC-10 is targeted at Fuji Electric's industrial customers for running manufacturing, plant automation and factory operation applications.

SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary had a June release date for its own Java Station network computer, which uses the Java network language for operations. Expected to retail for between $760 and roughly $1,200, the company is marketing the systems for specific applications, including reservations and data entry.

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Continuing the rollout of products built around the performance-enhancing PowerPC G3 processor (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 12), APPLE COMPUTER INC.'s subsidiary introduced the Macintosh Server G3. Designed to boost workgroup efficiency with high-capacity storage and state-of-the-art software, the server is available with a 233-MHz, a 266-MHz or a 300-MHz PowerPC G3. That processor is the first optimized for the Mac OS. Pricing is open, but the base server configuration is expected to have a street price around $3,800.

A second-generation Macintosh PowerBook 2400c has been released. Like the original (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 333, June 1997, pp. 10- 11), the smaller, lighter-weight notebook computer was developed by APPLE COMPUTER INC. and IBM JAPAN LTD. and is manufactured by the latter. However, it is designed exclusively for the Japanese market, where the PowerBook 2400c/180 was well-received. The PowerBook 2400c/240 sports a 240-MHz PowerPC 603e processor in place of the initial 180-MHz version. It is going for $1,500 or so.

In a concurrent United States/Japan release, EMC CORP. launched the world's highest-capacity disk storage system. Through the use of as many as 128 47-GB disk drives, the Symmetrix 5700/3700 Enterprise Storage system can deliver 6 terabytes of storage capacity housed in just 17.3 square feet of floor space. The Hopkinton, Massachusetts company is the first to implement 47-GB drives. The system provides simultaneous connectivity to all major mainframe, Unix, Windows NT, AS/400 and other hosts as well as supports existing EMC software solutions. The base configuration of the Symmetrix 5700/3700 with the 47-GB drives costs $1.6 million. A version of the system with 18-GB drives also is available for a starting price of $1.1 million.

This and other new products designed to meet the skyrocketing storage requirements of today's data-intensive applications is one part of EMC CORP.'s strategy for boosting Japan revenues by 40 percent in 1998. Another is the start of consulting services to help firms running data centers to cut costs through, for example, more efficient disk management and backup technology. EMC's subsidiary also opened a demonstration center equipped with mainframes and servers from various makers to show customers how Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems can work with their equipment.

SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, INC., the world's largest manufacturer of disk drives, has lined up a big-name distributor, SOFTBANK CORP. Known for its aggressive diversification through mergers and acquisitions, the software distributor will handle the full range of the Scotts Valley, California company's products.

For roughly $300, laptop and desktop PC users can get a 1 GB removable cartridge drive that manufacturer SYQUEST TECHNOLOGY, INC. claims is as fast as a hard drive. The Fremont, California company named a NICHIMEN CORP. affiliate to sell the SparQ. The distributor is projecting sales of 10,000 units.

A second Japanese manufacturer has received a license to manufacture IOMEGA CORP.'s Clik! portable storage device for such products as digital cameras and personal digital assistants. NEC CORP. will start Japan shipments this fall. The Clik!'s ultrasmall floppy disk offers 40 MB of storage. CITIZEN WATCH CO., LTD. was the first Clik! licensee (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 11).

Windows NT and Novell networks as well as a variety of other distributed computing environments have a new backup option, the Imation ITL 4115 Travan NS Tape Library System from IMATION CORP.'s subsidiary. The system's Travan NS 8 drive has room for up to 15 cartridges, each having 8 GB of compressed capacity for a total of 120 GB. It also transfers up to 7.2 GB of data in compressed form per hour and offers read-while-write capability, eliminating a separate verification pass. The ITL 4115 is priced around $6,800.

Workgroups that need to print documents in black and white that measure up to 11 x 17 inches are the target customers for HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s pair of HP LaserJet 5000 Series printers. Both print 16 pages per minute with a resolution of 1,200 dots per inch and include HP Web JetAdmin printer management software and HP JetDirect 600N internal print servers. The base model costs $2,000. About $600 more buys a printer with a larger-capacity paper tray and twice the memory, among other extras. .....Meanwhile, with demand for plotters flat, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD., which is said to control 90 percent of that market, is switching its marketing push in large-format output equipment to printers. The high-definition, full-color HP DesignJet ink-jet printers initially introduced last spring are its primary vehicle.

IBM JAPAN LTD. has on the market a flat-bed color scanner that can input information on legal-size paper into PCs. The roughly $300 product does not require an expansion board to connect with the desktop.

The Impressa 2 digital label and decal press from FARGO ELECTRONICS, INC. is being distributed to the printing industry by Tokyo-based HIRO CORP. The $2,200 system allows operators to print and cut labels or decals in any color, size or shape on a wide variety of substrates from a desktop computer. To do that, the Impressa 2 uses the Eden Prairie, Minnesota company's resin thermal and dye-sublimation ribbon-based printing technologies to fuse images permanently onto the print media through heat and pressure.

BITFLOW, INC. has tapped T&T CO., LTD. of Yokohama to import and market Road Runner, a PCI-based framegrabber board used to interface sophisticated cameras to PCs. The $4,500 or so product is capable of transferring data at a constant rate of 132 MB per second. It is used in such applications as inspection systems for the semiconductor and circuit board industries, web inspection for the paper, cloth and lumber industries, and traffic control and monitoring systems. Tokyo-based LINX CORP. also distributes the Woburn, Massachusetts manufacturer's products.

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