Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 351, December 1998

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American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

The subsidiary of professional services giant ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP. hopes to win contracts from five new companies a year to handle all or part of their information technology operations. It is off to a good start. EDS has a seven-and-a-half-year outsourcing contract from HOME WIDE CORP., the largest operator of home centers on Kyushu, to plan, develop, operate and maintain its computer system. The contract also covers the installation of a point-of-sale system in all Home Wide stores that is connected to the company's main computer system as well as the construction of an electronic data interchange between Home Wide and its suppliers. EDS will be paid a fraction of the company's revenues.

Market intelligence indicates that PC sales finally have turned up, but American manufacturers continue to look for ways to maximize their business. DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has set up an Internet site to sell directly to corporate customers. They can get cost estimates and terms as well as place orders. The company hopes the site will attract 200 new customers in its first three months of operation. For the local unit of another direct marketer, GATEWAY 2000, INC., one answer is to open more stores. The firm already has directly managed outlets in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Current plans call for setting up stores outside major metropolitan areas.

In an effort to prevent further encroachment on its turf by Windows NT machines, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. introduced a pair of affordable servers for workgroups and two workstations for the same price-sensitive market. Both the Sun Enterprise Ultra 5S Server and the Sun Enterprise Ultra 10S Server use a 333-MHz version of the 64-bit UltraSPARC-IIi processor. Promoted as a Web server and for file/print applications, the 5S provides 2 MB of external cache and a 9.1-GB EIDE (enhanced integrated drive electronics) hard drive. It lists for $7,400. The 10S, priced at $8,200, features 1 GB of internal memory, four PCI expansion slots and up to 18.2 GB of storage to support Web, e-mail or file/print services. For technical computer users, Sun is offering the $7,000 Sun Ultra 5 and the $10,700 Sun Ultra 10 workstations. The Ultra 5, powered by a 333-MHz UltraSPARC-IIi with 2 MB of cache, is being marketed for software development and two-dimensional design, while the Ultra 10, which sports a 360-MHz UltraSPARC-IIi chip and 2 MB of cache also, gives users a choice of graphics packages for three-dimensional design and analysis.

One of the companies trying to take sales away from the high end of the Unix market is INTERGRAPH CORP. Its weapon is the new Intense 3D Wildcat 4000 graphics accelerator. With it installed, the Huntsville, Alabama company's TDZ 2000 GTI and TDZ 2000 GXI ViZual Workstations powered by 450-MHz Pentium II processors are said to deliver the fastest 3D graphics performance for Windows NT applications. Not only that, Intergraph claims that the TDZ 2000 GXI with Intense 3D Wildcat 4000 graphics outperforms top-of-the-line Unix workstations but costs just a fraction of what those machines go for. Its subsidiary has priced the two TDZ systems from $16,400. Given their price/performance edge for 3D graphics, the local unit expects to sell 10,000 units.

For animation, video and film professionals using rendering software, which requires multiple fast processors, INTERGRAPH CORP.'s subsidiary also has on the market a new family of RenderRAX II modular, racked-mounted rendering systems powered by the latest Pentium II processor. The TDZ 2000-based line, which can be scaled to any size of production facility, starts at $90,900. With production professionals starting to migrate to the Window NT platform, Intergraph hopes to sell 100 of the new-generation RenderRAX II systems a year.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has switched its entire enterprise server line to Pentium II Xeon processors with the worldwide announcement of ProLiant 6500 rack-ready models. Able to support up to four 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon chips with 512 KB or 1024 KB Level-2 cache, as much as 4 GB of ECC-buffered EDO memory and dual-peer 64-bit buses, the ProLiant 6500 allows six units to be stacked in a standard rack. For companies running data base, on-line transaction processing, messaging and Web-hosting applications, this means that the computing power of up to 24 Pentium II Xeon processors can be harnessed in less than 2.5 square feet of floor space. Compaq's subsidiary priced the base configuration of the ProLiant 6500 at $19,800, while a dual- processor model lists for $33,100.

The PC server market leader does not have the advantage of any lead time on its American competitors in the enterprise computing field. Almost simultaneously, many of them announced the availability in Japan of systems capable of four-way processing using 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors. Each, though, touted the ways its server line stood apart from the others. The rival products included the NetServer LH 4 and the rack-mounted NetServer LH 4r from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. It is targeting sales of 1,000 units a year for the new line, which starts at $15,300. DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s competing entry is the rack-optimized PowerEdge 6350. For its part, UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary is taking on its rivals with the Aquanta QR/2 rack-mounted server.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. also has released internationally products designed to protect its turf in the departmental and workgroup server markets. The revamped ProLiant 3000 departmental server comes with one or two 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II processors with integrated 512-KB L2 cache, plus up to 4 GB of system memory. The pricing of the three models of the ProLiant 3000 begins at $8,700. The company's new ProLiant 800 workgroup server is tailored, in Compaq's words, to deliver next-generation performance while still meeting budget requirements. At prices starting from $5,000, buyers have a choice of one or two 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II processors and as much as 1 GB of internal memory. .....Workgroups that are willing to pay for clustering capabilities as well as the features available from competitors have at least one new alternative: UNISYS CORP.'s Aquanta DS/2 rack-mounted server. It lists for $21,500 and up.

The Dell Precision WorkStation 610 now defines the high end of DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s dedicated workstation line. Powered by single or dual 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, it can be custom-configured to meet the requirements of people who need maximum performance in a Windows NT environment for mechanical CAD, geographic information systems, digital content creation, electronic design automation, computer animation and financial analysis applications. Among the options is INTERGRAPH CORP.'s Intense 3DPro 3410GT OpenGL AGP (accelerated graphics port)-enabled graphics accelerator. Pricing starts at $3,600. .....Dual-processor capabilities also are available in an entry-level DELL COMPUTER CORP. system with the release of the Dell Precision WorkStation 210. Customizable like its high-end counterpart, it employs the 400-MHz version of the Pentium II processor. Value-priced, the Windows NT machine goes for $2,500 and up.

A number of big American PC makers are taking a breather on product introductions for the corporate desktop market, cutting prices instead on existing systems to win more business from companies. An exception is IBM JAPAN LTD., which released four models in the Pentium II-based PC 300GL series. It is highlighting their power to handle the newest business applications at affordable prices while offering expansion opportunities. Although pricing is open, the base model is available through mail order for around $1,200.

About the same amount of money will buy IBM JAPAN LTD.'s new, Japan-only home PC. The Aptiva DIJ, which runs off a multimedia-optimized INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. 300-MHz processor, includes 64 MB of system memory, a 3.2-GB hard drive, a 15-inch monitor, MICROSOFT CORP.'s Word and Excel, plus voice-recognition software.

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Even in Japan's reviving PC market, demand for notebooks continues to be stronger than sales of desktop machines. In fact, the strength of the notebook business has enticed HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. to test the waters of this market after a roughly 30-month absence. In December, it was scheduled to start sales of the OmniBook 4100 series to multinationals. These notebooks offer a choice of a 233-MHz or a 266-MHz Pentium II processor, a 13.3-inch or a 14.1-inch TFT display as well as a CD-ROM drive. If the test marketing proves successful, HP Japan will launch a full-scale sales campaign for OmniBook notebooks in 1999.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary is going after power users with the Compaq Armada 7800 Pro. This Windows NT model runs off a 300-MHz mobile Pentium II processor with 512 KB of L2 cache. It comes standard with 64 MB of synchronous DRAM memory, an 8-GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive and a 14.1-inch color TFT display. These and other performance features come at the fairly stiff price of $6,200, however.

Home and small business users are the target customers for DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s new Inspiron 3500 notebooks, the lightest (6.1 pounds) and thinnest (1.5 inches) Inspiron to date. Between $2,600 and $3,300 buys a system with a 233-MHz, 266-MHz or 300-MHz Pentium II processor, a 13.3-inch or a 14.1-inch display, 3.2 GB to 6.4 GB hard drives, DVD and Zip drives, a full-sized keyboard and some of the latest multimedia features.

In a coup for CYCOMM INTERNATIONAL, INC., its rugged, portable computer will be marketed by NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. The McLean, Virginia company claims that its PCMOBILE, which is powered by a 266-MHz Pentium chip, is the world's fastest heavy-duty laptop. NTT has positioned the PCMOBILE as the hub of a fully integrated disaster-relief system that it recently developed. To this end, the communications giant committed significant resources to specialized coding, translation and customized software engineering for the PCMOBILE. NTT also is marketing the system to service, construction and manufacturing companies, including related businesses, that require mobile applications, reliability and a rugged design.

Virtually every month recently, EMC CORP., the self-described world leader in enterprise storage systems, software and services, has earmarked additional resources, both financial and personnel, for its Japanese operations. In its latest move, the Hopkinton, Massachusetts firm's subsidiary opened a product development center. The Japan Technology Center's initial staff of 20 -- a number that will double in 1999 -- is working on the software development side of EMC's business. In a complementary initiative, the local unit now is offering consulting services, which include advice on system design and software support.

In a deal that also should help EMC CORP. build sales and share, the company gave NEC CORP. the right to resell Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems and software with its Express5800 Windows NT-based servers and NX7000 Unix-based servers. The multiyear agreement extends worldwide, but NEC is expected to generate most of its Symmetrix sales in Japan, where the Express5800 is the leading Windows NT server with an estimated 30 percent of the market. EMC officials believe the new relationship could generate sales on the order of $100 million over two years.

Network file server supplier NETWORK APPLIANCE, INC. also has gained a powerful ally: FUJITSU, LTD. The Santa Clara, California company's first Japanese OEM customer will market, sell and support its network-attached storage systems through the computer maker's domestic direct and indirect sales organizations. Filers, as they are called, manage both Unix and Windows- based heterogenous enterprise storage environments. They offload file access from general-purpose servers, thereby speeding access to the information across a network. Network Appliance's current product line is the NetApp F700 series (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 12). As part of the deal, Fujitsu named Network Appliance its long-term technology partner for network-attached storage.

A faster version of STORAGE COMPUTER CORP.'s RAID7 desktop storage server for workgroups and server clusters has been developed for the Japanese market. The RAID7 F1 System, which scales from 54 GB all the way up to 218.4 GB with a maximum of 12 3.5-inch drives, offers read/write speeds that are more than double the original system's at 46 MB per second (read) and 34 MB per second (write). Exclusive distributor TECHNOGRAPHY INC. has priced the system between $53,600 and $106,600. It expects to sell 100 units through March and a total of 500 in FY 1999.

In Japan as elsewhere, demand for scalable, manageable, protected storage capacity is increasing exponentially. That growth has attracted a new competitor, DELL COMPUTER CORP. Its subsidiary has introduced a range of PowerVault storage subsystem products that offer a choice of Fibre Channel or SCSI (small computer system interface) connections to host servers.

The data explosion also requires new backup and restore systems, a demand that COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. is ready to meet with the Compaq StorageWorks Enterprise Backup Solution for Windows NT and NetWare environments. This $57,400 system, which integrates application software and industry-standard hardware, allows multiple servers to share, via a Fibre Channel Arbitrated Loop, a single tape library, the Compaq DLT 3570 Tape Library. It consists of two 35/70 DLT (digital linear tape) tape drives with a total storage capacity of 1 terabyte through a 15-cartridge magazine.

With storage-intensive applications like multimedia, 3D graphics and video streaming proliferating, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. has announced new families of desktop and notebook hard disk drives that meet the capacity challenge. For desktop storage, its subsidiary will start shipping by March the IBM Deskstar 25GP and the IBM Deskstar 22GXP drives. The former provides up to 25 GB of capacity running at 5,400 rotations per minute, while the latter offers as much as 22 GB of storage with a 7,200 RPM access rate. The key to these industry-leading capacities is increased ariel density, the result of IBM's second-generation giant magnetoresistive head technology. The Deskstar 25GP will be priced at $990, while the Deskstar will list around $1,300.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s GMR technology also has allowed it to develop a record-breaking hard drive for notebook computers. The Travelstar 14GS holds 14.1 GB of information -- about four times more than today's typical notebook hard drive. IBM JAPAN LTD. simultaneously began sampling the Travelstar 6GN, the highest-capacity (6.4 GB) 9.5mm drive for ultraportable computers, and the Travelstar 10GT, a 10-GB drive for the mainstream notebook PC market. All of the new Travelstar and Deskstar hard drives feature not only GMR head technology but also include IBM's Drive Fitness Test technology, which lets users easily and quickly test the health of their drives.

An external disk drive for APPLE COMPUTER INC.'s iMac computers was to be available before yearend from MICROTECH INTERNATIONAL INC. The North Branford, Connecticut firm's Mil Zip 100 USB (universal serial bus) drive is the smallest and lightest drive based on IOMEGA CORP.'s Zip technology with its 100-MB disks. It will be priced around $230. Microtech is a majority-owned subsidiary of PC retailer ADO ELECTRONIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.

Building on the success of the REX PRO PC Card organizer in the United States, STARFISH SOFTWARE, INC. and CITIZEN WATCH CO., LTD. developed a comparable product for the Japanese market. By plugging the 1.4-ounce DataSlim into their laptop's PC Card slot or a docking station connected to a PC's serial port, users can synchronize their contacts, calendars and to-do information. The $205 package includes Scotts Valley, California-based Starfish's TrueSync Desktop, which allows users to transfer information from leading personal information management software programs to DataSlim. CBM LTD. is handling distribution.

Business people on the move who do not want to take a laptop with them can use the Crosspad to record information for later transfer to a PC. Designed by IBM JAPAN LTD. and writing instrument maker A.T. CROSS CO. of Lincoln, Rhode Island, the product consists of a special ballpoint pen and a letter-sized pad that contains a 1-MB flash memory and stores some 50 pages of data. The local Cross unit and KOKUYO CO., LTD. are distributing the $520 Crosspad.

Lower-cost PCs require less expensive input devices, MICROSOFT CORP. believes. Accordingly, its subsidiary introduced the $27 Basic Mouse, an ambidextrous two-button mouse that fits a range of hand sizes and works with either serial or PS-2 ports. .....PC race car drivers can get the feel of the real thing with MICROSOFT CORP.'s SideWinder Force Feedback Wheel. Designed for Windows 95 or Windows 98 machines, the $215 force feedback-enabled PC steering wheel comes with a release clamp, nonslip pedals and a power supply brick.

For $1,200, GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary is selling as an option for certain of its desktop PCs a space-saving, energy-efficient color TFT display with a 15.1-inch viewable area. The FPD1500 is equipped with a digital interface for clearer, crisper images.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
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