Its Sega Saturn machine blown out of the home video game market by SONY CORP.'s PlayStation and NINTENDO CO., LTD.'s Nintendo 64 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 4), SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. will spend as much as $100 million to launch its next-generation Dreamcast system in the United States. Codeveloped with MICROSOFT CORP., the machine combines a console running a version of Windows CE, a PC and Internet gaming features. Its graphics will be 10 times sharper than the Sega Saturn's, while the sound will be compact disc quality. Dreamcast will be released in Japan in late November. It will appear in this country roughly a year later. In the meantime, Sega is lining up software companies to develop games for Dreamcast.
With digital television broadcasting set to start this fall, the first high-definition and standard-definition TV sets are arriving in stores. To the surprise of some experts, though, early shippers MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. and MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. both introduced what they call upgradable analog sets with separate set-top box-like receivers and televisions. The seven digital-capable MITSUBISHI CONSUMER ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. models, which are upgradable to all 18 HDTV formats, range in screen size from 50 inches to 80 inches. They are priced between $4,000 and $10,000, but buyers also have to invest $3,000 in a proprietary MELCO receiver. Similarly, the 56-inch television rolled out by PANASONIC CONSUMER ELECTRONICS CO. supports all HDTV formats. It costs around $6,000, plus $1,700 for a proprietary upgradable digital set-top box decoder. Panasonic also unveiled 32-inch and 36-inch digital-compatible TVs, although they support only limited resolution of DTV signals. These models are priced at $1,800 and $3,200, respectively.
To capitalize on the anticipated growth of DTV and other digital appliances, HITACHI, LTD. decided that HITACHI HOME ELECTRONICS (AMERICA), INC. will specialize in the development and sale of these products. Effective July 1, the Norcross, Georgia subsidiary transferred its import and marketing rights to information-related equipment to Tarrytown, New York-headquartered HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. It also relocated to California, where Hitachi's product development operations are based. These moves, Hitachi Home Electronics projects, will boost FY 1999 sales 10 percent above FY 1997's.
Port Washington, New York-headquartered SANREX CORP., a marketer of discrete power semiconductors, power modules, intelligent power modules and other industrial power products made by parent SANSHA ELECTRIC MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. of Osaka, has broadened its operations. It formed SANREX TECHNICAL SERVICES LLC, also located in Port Washington, to provide value-added engineering services and to participate in the development and the implementation of preventive maintenance programs for SanRex equipment. SanRex supplies its products on an original equipment manufacturer basis to THERMAL DYNAMICS CORP. of St. Louis.
SEIKO EPSON CORP. spun out the electronic component division of EPSON AMERICA, INC. into a separate company. Also located in Torrance, California, EPSON ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. primarily sells quartz devices, LCDs, motors and magnets, PC cards and device-applied products. It accounts for about 30 percent of Seiko Epson's U.S. sales. The split was designed to bring more focus to electronic devices. Epson America's main products are scanners, digital cameras and other retail-oriented goods, which are sold through different channels than electronic components.
An exchange rate of ¥135=$1.00 was used in this report.