Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 359, August 1999

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American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

In its latest business-expansion initiative, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is offering corporations the chance to cut hardware operating and maintenance costs by integrating the functions performed by multiple networked PCs and Unix servers into a single, high-end Unix server. The company has enlisted the help of HITACHI, LTD., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., NEC CORP. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. in offering the service since they often sell HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. Unix-based computer equipment on an original equipment manufacturer basis. HP Japan believes that the new business will bring in revenues of $33.3 million in the first year.

Buyers of workstations, servers and supercomputers from the on-the-move subsidiary of SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. now can sign up for worldwide maintenance service. Available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Global Service comes with a guaranteed turn-around time. Moreover, three levels of support are available.

Frustrated by its seventh-place standing in Japan's PC market, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has launched direct sales over the Internet as a complement to its retail channel sales. A new family of Prosignia servers, desktop systems and notebooks is available exclusively through Compaq DirectPlus. Orders, which also can be placed by phone, will be built to buyers' specifications at Compaq's Tokyo-area plants. Although it runs its own call centers, the company decided to outsource Compaq DirectPlus call-center operations to big telemarketer BELLSYSTEM24 INC. In time, Compaq hopes that Internet sales will generate 10 percent of its Japanese business.

People interested in customizing their APPLE COMPUTER, INC. Macintosh Server G3 and Power Macintosh G3 desktop machines (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 16) can do so at the Apple Store on the company's Web site. The equipment is assembled at Apple's Singapore factory and shipped directly to buyers. The process takes two weeks at most.

In the latest demonstration that the company remains committed to supporting the customer base it inherited with the purchase of Digital Equipment Corp., COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. rolled out a pair of Alpha-based workstations. The latest performance enhancement to the AlphaStation XP1000 boosts its speed above the 600-MHz barrier thanks to the new 667-MHz Alpha 21264 (EV67) chip. Built for designers and engineers who use RISC-based systems and require top 3D workstation application performance, a Tru64 Unix system with a single Alpha 667- MHz processor, 128 MB of memory, a 9.1-GB hard drive, 4 MB of cache and entry- level graphics costs just $15,100. Even more affordable at $9,600 is the AlphaStation XP900 for OpenVMS applications developers and system managers. It is the first high- performance Compaq workstation to feature the new 466-MHz Alpha 21264 (EV6) processor.

Windows NT-based workstation users seeking greater performance now can tap the power of the 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor in the HP Kayak PC Workstation line from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The release of the seven new models coincided with an average price cut of 38 percent on HP Kayak products with the 500- MHz version of the Pentium III Xeon chip.

Companies requiring extremely high levels of data availability for such critical applications as enterprise resource planning, on-line transaction processing and Web hosting have new two-node Microsoft Cluster Server clustering options available from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. in the form of the Compaq ProLiant Cluster HA/F500 and the Compaq ProLiant Cluster HA/F200. Both systems can be built with a variety of ProLiant servers. The storage system for the HA/F200 is the Compaq StorageWorks RAID Array 4000 (formerly known as the Compaq Fibre Channel Storage System), while the HA/F500 uses the new StorageWorks RAID Array 8000 and the Enterprise Storage Array 12000 high-end optical Fibre Channel external storage subsystem and storage systems to meet specific requirements. For greatest protection, the systems can be configured with a dual-loop connection between the server and the storage subsystem. With two ProLiant servers, pricing starts at $72,800 for the HA/F200 and at $428,800 for the HA/F500.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary also has brought the performance- enhancement powers of the 550-MHz Pentium III processor to its mainstream line of ProLiant servers. Pricing ranges from $3,600 for the ProLiant 800 workgroup server to $5,400 for the ProLiant 1600 and on to $6,500 for the rack-mounted ProLiant 1850R, topping out at $7,200 for the midrange ProLiant 3000. At the same time, the Compaq marketing unit added two products to the low-cost ProLiant line that it calls Advantage PAQ. The ProLiant 400 6/450 Advantage PAQ, listing for just $1,700, features a 450- MHz Pentium II processor, while the $5,500 ProLiant 1600 6/500 Advantage PAQ workgroup server draws on the performance capabilities of the 500-MHz Pentium III engine.

Sales to date indicate that a market exists in Japan for equipment running the Linux operating system. To tap that demand, particularly among small businesses, IBM JAPAN LTD. has tied up with 10ART-NI CORP. and OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD. to deliver complete solutions based on the freeware version of Unix. 10art-ni will combine IBM Japan's low-cost Netfinity 1000 servers with dial-up routers and uninterruptible power supplies for marketing by Otsuka Shokai. The PC retailer, which has priced the package from $3,000, is projecting sales around 2,000 units a year. Including support and training, the trio believes that this new business can produce annual revenues on the order of $33.3 million.

With Japan's PC market expanding strongly, American competitors are tweaking their product lineups to capitalize on this growth. The repositioning involves not just introducing products with all the latest bells and whistles for the corporate or the home market but also catering to the demand for compact, Japan-tailored products and to value-conscious buyers. For instance, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. unveiled the Deskpro EN SF Series, a line of small form-factor commercial PCs for crowded environments that is said to take up 36 percent less space than conventional desktop PCs without compromising performance. The 20 Deskpro EN SF models are split equally between machines powered by a 466-MHz Celeron processor and those with a 550-MHz Pentium III chip. Buyers have a choice of 64 MB or 128 MB of SDRAM and a 6.4-GB or a 10-GB SMART II Ultra ATA hard drive. A 24X slimline CD-ROM is optional, as is 13.5 GB of storage. An integrated network controller and graphics accelerator are included in the starting price of $1,200. .....Taking the small form-factor idea another step, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary introduced the Presario 3500, a line designed specifically for Japan that occupies 70 percent less space than typical desktops. A representative model, the Presario 3505, comes with a 400-MHz Celeron processor, 64 MB of internal memory and a 6.4-GB hard drive for about $1,200 excluding a monitor.

Direct marketer DELL COMPUTER CORP. also thinks that a reduced footprint will sell desktop systems to companies. Its new OptiPlex GX1 line, the company's first such product, is 44 percent smaller than its predecessors. The Model 450S features a 450-MHz Pentium III chip, 64 MB of RAM and a 6.4-GB hard drive. It lists for $1,200, again without a monitor. For IT managers who are just as interested in price as in compactness, Dell's subsidiary is offering a space-saving machine that starts at $830 without a display. The OptiPlex GX100 runs off a 400-MHz Celeron engine.

Fellow direct seller GATEWAY 2000, INC. is aiming at the high end of the desktop market with the latest addition to the Profile line of stylish, space-saving, all-in-one equipment. The XL, which costs $2,100, comes with Office 2000 Personal preinstalled. It also features a wireless keyboard. .....Bringing to Japan a strategy that has attracted first-time buyers in the United States, GATEWAY 2000, INC. is selling a system that includes one year of free Internet access in its affordable price of $915. The GP6-400C has a 400-MHz Celeron processor and a 15-inch display.

Going after the high end of the corporate market, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. added to its NetVectra family five models running the Japanese-lan-guage version of Windows NT Workstation 4.0. Priced from $1,700 to $2,400, including a network interface adapter, the machines range from a system with a 400-MHz Celeron chip to one powered by a 450-MHz Pentium III processor and providing 8.4 GB of disk storage.

IBM JAPAN LTD. has redefined the top of its mainstream PC 300PL desktop/minitower line with the release of a model sporting a 550-MHz Pentium III processor and including a 13.5-GB hard drive. Pricing starts at $2,400. .....Office 2000 Personal is being preinstalled on six of IBM JAPAN LTD.'s home-targeted Aptiva models. These machines list for $1,700 and up. The software package also is a selling point of three new ThinkPad notebook computers that have been beefed up in other ways as well. For example, the ThinkPad 600E, which IBM Japan is selling direct for $3,600, features a 400-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, a 13.1-inch TFT LCD display, a 10- GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive and a video-out port. For more budget-minded corporate buyers, there is the $2,000 ThinkPad 390E with a 366-MHz mobile Celeron chip, a 12.1-inch TFT LCD screen and 4.8 GB of storage.

By introducing a notebook computer that costs just $1,400, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. hopes to make inroads among Japanese who might be interested in buying a computer but do not feel that they have space for a desktop model. The company was able to hold down the price of the Presario 1245 by using a 333-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor and installing a smaller-than-normal 32 MB of internal memory and a 3.2- GB hard drive. However, the machine has a CD-ROM drive and comes with e-mail software.

For anyone in the business world who worries about the security of the information stored on his or her notebook's hard drive should the machine be lost or stolen, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has a solution. Five new Armada notebook models feature the company's DriveLock password-protection technology. These products range from the $2,000 Armada M300, which has a 333-MHz mobile Celeron processor, up to the Armada E700, a machine with a 400-MHz mobile Pentium II chip that lists for $5,700.

The world's leading provider of enterprise storage systems and related software and services is taking a number of steps to ensure that this distinction extends to the Japanese market. For starters, EMC CORP. opened a customer service facility in Tokyo to provide corporations using its equipment with 24x7 technical support. The center, which is linked to the company's major support hubs at headquarters in Hopkinton, Massachusetts and in Cork, Ireland, also is providing product validation, new product qualification and sales support to customers. The opening of the support center is one reason that EMC's subsidiary is projecting an increase in staffing in 1999 to 400 from about 260, but the company also wants to hire more systems engineers and sales people. Additional software developers are expected to be hired as well for EMC's Japan Technology Center. Set up last November, this facility has just been moved to Kawasaki in Kanagawa prefecture.

In an aggressive move by INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. to recapture its former leadership position in disk storage, the company rolled out the IBM Enterprise Storage Server in Japan and elsewhere. Of its many selling points, IBM is touting in particular the system's ability to work with heterogeneous hosts — S/390 mainframes/servers, Unix platforms, Intel-based systems running Windows NT or in a NetWare environment and AS/400 — and with a variety of interfaces, including ESCON, Fibre Channel and Ultra SCSI. ESS, which pointedly was code-named Shark, can scale from 420 GB to more than 11 terabytes, a record capacity, according to IBM. Its performance is enhanced by two four-way SMPs (symmetric multiprocessors), the Serial Storage Architecture and a large cache with additional battery-backed memory. IBM JAPAN LTD. priced the base configuration of the Enterprise Storage Server at $516,600.

Market newcomer XIOTECH CORP. gave KANEMATSU ELECTRONICS LTD. nonexclusive rights to distribute its centralized storage subsystem and supporting REDI software family. Dubbed a SAN (storage area network) in a Box, the Eden Prairie, Minnesota manufacturer's MAGNITUDE provides up to 3 terabytes of centralized storage that can be continuously accessed by several heterogeneous servers.

CASTLEWOOD SYSTEMS, INC. added FUJIKURA LTD. as a manufacturer of the 2.2- GB ORB drive and ORB media. As part of the deal, the Japanese producer of electric wire and cable invested $3 million in Castlewood, acquiring a 10 percent stake in the Pleasanton, California company. Fujikura will make the ORB drive, the world's first removable hard drive to use magnetoresistive head technology, at a Thai subsidiary. It is targeting initial output of at least 20,000 units a month and full-capacity production of more than 1 million units in 2001. The ORB drive is marketed exclusively in Japan by SHINNICHI ELECTRONICS CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 16).

By the end of the year, QUANTUM CORP. and HITACHI MAXELL, LTD. hope to commercialize a digital linear tape drive that can deliver 100 GB (uncompressed) of storage capacity per cartridge with a fast 10-megabits-per-second data transfer rate — more than enough to meet the backup, archival and disaster recovery requirements of midrange servers. The Milpitas, California company is responsible for the tape drive, while its development partner is handling the media cartridge. Providing the foundation for the Super DLTtape system are several tape-drive technical breakthroughs made by Quantum that in time could bring about a storage capacity of 500 GB (uncompressed) per cartridge with a transfer rate of up to 40 Mbps.

GIGANET, INC. signed ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. to distribute its server clustering solution in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. cLAN server cluster interconnects link Intel architecture-based servers, enabling them to synchronize and replicate information at high speeds with what the Concord, Massachusetts manufacturer says is little or no performance penalty. Moreover, the product's plug-and-play capabilities enable firms to scale clustered servers incrementally and transparently. In Japan, cLAN pricing starts at $20,700.

It now is possible for PC users to operate their machines with one hand, thanks to the Cut Key keyboard from the subsidiary of Fremont, California-based LOGITECH, INC. The small-footprint product has just 22 keys that are arranged like an adding machine, but these keys perform all standard PC keyboard functions. Cut Key costs $125.

LCD module maker THREE-FIVE SYSTEMS, INC. tapped MITSUI & CO., LTD. to facilitate its entry into the Japanese market. The marketing, sales and distribution agreement covers all three of the Tempe, Arizona firm's advanced display products in or nearing production. Both companies think that Three-Five's LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) microdisplay technology, which is scheduled for production during the first quarter of 2000, might have the greatest near-term market potential. Mitsui will market this thumbnail-size display that delivers the resolution of high-definition television screens for such applications as rear-projection systems, cellular telephones, personal information appliances and portable multimedia terminals. Other possible uses for the microdisplay are HDTV sets and computer monitors, especially large-screen products.

Hoping to take sales away from SEIKO EPSON CORP. and CANON INC. in the SOHO (small office/home office) ink-jet printer market, LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s subsidiary introduced the Z series. This line offers the same image quality, printing speeds and other functions as the entrenched competition's products, but they are more affordable. The high-end Z51 already is on the market; it lists for $415. This fall, the Z11 will be on store shelves. It is a replacement for last year's low-end CJP1100. With the launch of the aggressively priced Z series, Lexmark believes that it can sell 150,000 ink-jet printers in 1999, triple the 1998 total.

The lightest and smallest projector ever built by INFOCUS SYSTEMS, INC. will be available in September from ADVANCED PERIPHERALS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The LP330 "Dragonfly" weighs just 4.8 pounds and is the size of a hardback book, yet it provides a true XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels bright images and true-to-light colors with its DLP (digital light processing) display. APTi is a Fujisawa, Kanagawa prefecture-based joint venture between IBM JAPAN LTD. and TOSHIBA TEC CORP. InFocus recently agreed to provide its ultraportable projectors to TOSHIBA CORP. on an OEM basis (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 17).

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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