Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 353, February 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


At a cost of $11.2 million, NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. bought an 80 percent stake in AUTOWEB COMMUNICATIONS, INC. Formed in March 1997, the Oak Park, Michigan company has developed secure platforms using original encryption technology and file-sharing servers that allow vehicle manufacturers and their parts suppliers to reliably and inexpensively exchange sensitive technical information, including CAD (computer-aided design) data. More than 1,000 companies in the United States already use AutoWeb's services. By combining its technology with that of its new subsidiary, NTT hopes to expand AutoWeb's business to include the development of platforms that support the entire supply chain management system. The communications giant also wants to broaden AutoWeb's customer base by extending it to industries outside vehicles and to Japan and elsewhere in Asia. SUMITOMO CORP. and two of its affiliates are among the original investors in the start-up.

The 3.0 release of TurboLinux, PACIFIC HITECH, INC.'s flagship Linux product and the top-selling version of this server operating system in Japan, is selling in the United States for $50. TurboLinux 3.0, which also has the distinction of being the only version of Linux available in English, Japanese, Chinese and several European languages, bundles more than 700 applications, including Corel WordPerfect for Linux, Netscape Communicator 4.5, Apache, Samba 2.0 and the TurboDesk graphical user interface.

A number of Japanese companies are trying to revive interest in the once controversial but recently dormant TRON (real-time operating system nucleus) architecture as an alternative to Windows for PCs. About 45 companies, including MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., have formed Tokyo- based SENNET CORP. to develop and promote BTRON (business TRON). One of its earliest moves will be the establishment of GLOBAL OS CORP. in Sunnyvale, California to develop English-language application software for BTRON.

Independent software developer COMPUTER INSTITUTE OF JAPAN, LTD., which has been in business since 1976, now has a wholly owned subsidiary in Cupertino, California. CIJSJ AMERICA, INC.'s primary job is to convert into Japanese English-language software for sale in Japan. It also will conduct market research, engage in software development and provide integration and consultation services. Yokohama-based CIJ has another California affiliate, UNITECH RESEARCH, INC. of Irvine, which it opened in 1989.

In April, start-up software developer GLOBALCOM, INC. will open a subsidiary in Denver. GCI (USA) CORP. initially will study the feasibility of developing software for PDA (personal digital assistant) devices. It also will collect information for its Tokyo-based parent, which MIJ CO., LTD. formed in March 1998. GCI (USA) expects to hire 10 people this year but to have 100 employees in 2001. By then, its parent projects that it will be doing $20 million worth of business.

To help American retailers and distributors respond quickly to changing consumer preferences, NEC CORP.'s main U.S. subsidiary formed DCM SOLUTIONS, INC. in Irving, Texas. The company, which has 30 employees but expects to expand over the next three years to 110 people, will provide integration services and software initially to such retailers as convenience stores, supermarkets and drug stores. Demand chain management, the origin of the new company's name, is the organizing concept for DCM's business. With it, retailers can achieve better inventory management and more timely feedback for merchandise management. NEC projects that DCM, which will leverage its experience in building and supporting systems for retail chains in Japan, will have revenues of $65 million in FY 2002.

The next evolution of NICHIMEN GRAPHICS INC.'s N-World suite of real-time content creation tools will arrive in March. The three-dimensional animation package Mirai is a suite of software development tools that, according to the NICHIMEN CORP. company, will deliver new levels of performance, versatility and usability not available until now in a single package. Mirai is designed primarily for game developers and high-end character animators, but industry analysts believe that it also could find a market in such applications as film and video, visual simulation and Web- based content creation. Mirai will have a suggested price of $6,500.

In a coup for YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. in the electronic design automation field, CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC., the international leader in this business, will distribute around the world YEC's processor models and its VirtualICE coverification tool, which includes a software debugger. The multiyear OEM agreement gives San Jose, California-based Cadence access to more than 20 of Yokogawa Electric's processors for embedded applications along with the associated coverification technology. These products allow fast virtual prototyping so that chip designers can address hardware/software integration issues before a design is committed to physical prototyping. The VirtualICE coverification debugger is tightly linked with Cadence's Affirma hardware/software verifier. They will be sold as a package for $40,000 in the United States. The processor models will be marketed separately at prices between $20,000 and $25,000 each.

YAMAHA CORP.'s software-based music synthesizer will be preinstalled in COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Presario home computers. The S- YXG50 reproduces music that meets the international electronic musical instrument standard known as MIDI, says the world's largest manufacturer of musical instruments. With the Compaq order in hand, Yamaha expects to ship 10 million music synthesizers in 1999.

An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report. aaaaaa

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