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No. 361, October 1999

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American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Business prospects in the supercomputer field seem to be improving for SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s subsidiary, both on its own and through a new alliance with NEC CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, pp. 12-13). In its latest victory, SGI retained TOSHIBA CORP. as a high-performance computing customer, moving the electronics giant from the Cray T916 vector supercomputer it had used since 1996 to a SGI Origin 2000 scalar machine. Equipped with 32 processors, the system, including auxiliary equipment, cost $13.9 million. Toshiba reportedly was persuaded to stay with SGI in part because of the inducements the company was offering to make the switch to a scalar supercomputer but also due to the easy expandability of the SGI Origin 2000 and a change in the types of applications it was running on its high-performance computer. Toshiba apparently is so satisfied with SGI and its equipment that it plans to order a 100-processor SGI Origin 2000 next year.

A massively parallel Compaq NonStop Himalaya S700-A server or a Compaq ProLiant 1600 PC server is at the heart of the round-the-clock settlement system for debit-card transactions that COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and TOYO INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. are marketing to retailers. TIS provided the software for the system, which is said to be priced at about half of what competitors charge for a similar capability. The standard CardWorks S package for big store chains lists for $553,700, while the base configuration of the CardWorks NT version for small and midsize retailers goes for $180,600. Compaq and TIS expect their initial collaboration to produce revenues of $27.8 million in the first year.

In its second such move, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary released a PC tailored for customers of NIKKO BEANS INC., the start-up on-line brokerage affiliate of NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. The space-saving model is powered by a 400-MHz Celeron processor. It lists for $1,600 without a monitor. Dell will handle installation and provide support. It has a similar arrangement with MATSUI SECURITIES CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 13).

The effort by GATEWAY 2000, INC. to extend its customer base beyond individuals and small and midsize businesses has paid at least one dividend (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, pp. 14-15). The direct marketer has a deal to supply its ALR series of Windows NT servers to recently established regional communications services providers NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE EAST CORP. and NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE WEST CORP. for use in the computer telephony integration systems that they market. These CTI solutions can serve up to 24 PCs and 20 phone lines. NTT East and NTT West have priced a system with an ALR server, 10 multifunction phones and four ISDN (integrated services digital network) lines are $24,100.

In the hope of signing up 1 million new customers for its OCN Internet service over the next two years, long-distance/international carrier NTT COMMUNICATIONS CORP. tied up with IBM JAPAN LTD. to offer potential subscribers a low-cost package deal. People willing to sign a three-year service agreement can get an Internet-ready version of the Aptiva 20J desktop and 100 hours of on-line time for approximately $37 a month, although this charge does not include telephone fees. At the end of the contract, subscribers will have the option to renew at the same price and get a new PC, remain an OCN customer for $26 a month or cancel their contract at a cost of $280.

IBM JAPAN LTD. has made several other moves recently to ensure that it capitalizes on the market's growth now and down the road. In an initiative that goes beyond a new HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. program (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 13), the firm will provide hardware, software and technical support free of charge to at least 10 promising Internet start-ups. Successful candidates will receive as much as $925,900 in IBM Japan help over three years, including servers and desktop PCs. The selection process should be finished by the end of the year. At the same time, IBM Japan is investing more effort in reaching the huge number of small businesses in Japan. That includes opening the Small Business Center on its Web site. Here, the company offers complete solutions, such as a Netfinity 1000 server running the Linux operating system packaged with all the software that a smaller firm might require for $6,400.

In a potentially more significant move, IBM JAPAN LTD., which generated some 60 percent of its 1998 revenues of $13.6 billion from software and services, will expand staffing at its 16 service-oriented subsidiaries over the next year. The company hopes to add 1,000 technicians and systems engineers to the 3,200 or so already employed by these affiliates to handle what it predicts will be a continued upswing in corporate outsourcing of information technology operations. This already is a big business for IBM Japan, with revenues projected to hit $926 million in 2000. .....IBM JAPAN LTD. also will open a customer support center in Naha, Okinawa prefecture next April. It will have 50 employees initially, but as many as 300 people could be on the payroll in 2001.

Visitors to GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s Japanese Spot Shop Internet site, which was opened last April, soon will find a broader selection of products — four times as many, according to plans. The company is boosting its lineup of peripherals, software, DVD movie titles and Gateway logo products. It also will add computer-related furniture and other office products. Gateway executives say that the site not only has had a high number of hits but, more importantly, has produced strong sales.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. has packaged the performance-enhancing technology of its fifth and sixth generations of high-end S/390 enterprise servers into a compact, lower-cost server designed to meet the current and future e-business requirements of small and midsize companies and corporate departments. The three models of the S/390 Multiprise 3000 enterprise server, which run all of IBM's enterprise operating systems, incorporate the input/output and storage subsystems of the S/390 for greater throughput, plus 12 slots for parallel or ESCON adapters for high-speed access to peripherals. They also integrate 100/10-Mbps Ethernet for LAN connectivity and come with seven industry-standard slots for additional options. In two other adaptations for e-business applications, the Multiprise 3000 can be equipped with as much as 4 GB of main memory and up to 792 GB of internal storage. Packaged solutions are available as well to help companies tap the potential of e- business. IBM JAPAN LTD. has priced the Multiprise 3000 from $624,000.

In another worldwide release, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. introduced the 64- bit RS/6000 Enterprise Server Model S80, which it claims is the world's fastest e-business server. System improvements on existing S family servers include 24-way SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) capability, 64-GB memory capacity and a new backplane that nearly quadruples internal bandwidths. Performance is boosted further by the use of 450-MHz RS64 III RISC processors, each with 8 MB of L-2 cache and featuring IBM's copper interconnect technology, and the optimization of the AIX 4.3.3 operating system for e-businesses applications. S80 pricing in Japan is around $490,700. .....The RS/6000 line of Unix servers also has a new member developed specifically for Internet and application services providers. The low-cost ($5,500 in Japan), high-density, rack-mount Model B50, which runs AIX 4.3.3 as well, features the 375-MHz PowerPC 604e processor with 1 MB of L-2 cache, up to 1 GB of main memory and a maximum 36.4 GB of internal storage capacity. As many as 20 B50 servers fit into an industry-standard 19-inch rack.

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Going after the workgroup server market, particularly Unix customers with compute-intensive requirements, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s subsidiary put on the market the SGI 2100 server. It is a true 64-bit system, featuring not only two to eight R10000 MIPS RISC processors but also this architecture in its I/O system, the file system and the IRIX operating system. Moreover, like the SGI Origin 2000 series of servers, the SGI 2100 leverages the company's ccNUMA (cache-coherent nonuniform memory access) technology to eliminate memory bottlenecks. These and other enterprise-caliber capabilities are priced aggressively, with an entry-level SGI 2100 starting at $98,200.

The first product based on SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Hot Desk software technology has arrived in Japan as well as in other markets. The book-sized Sun Ray 1 is the industry's first true enterprise appliance, Sun says, because all computing resources are accessed from the Sun Ray enterprise server software residing on Sun Enterprise or Sun workgroup servers. This setup has numerous benefits for a company, starting with zero administration requirements since all software upgrades, resource management and configuration takes place on the server. For workgroup users, the Sun Ray appliance offers such advantages as instant access to any application or information on the server and mobility via smart-card technology. Sun's subsidiary priced the device, which comes with 10/100BaseT connectivity, a smart-card reader, two USB ports, a keyboard and a mouse, at $535, including a monitor. The Sun Ray enterprise server software costs $825.

Engineers who are nearing system limits in running electronic design automation and mechanical design automation applications have a way out. HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. released worldwide the HP VISUALIZE J7000, a four-way SMP system that delivers what is said to be a workstation-record 8 GB of RAM memory. The technical workstation is built around HP's 64- bit PA-8500 RISC processor operating at 440 MHz and deploys the power of the 64-bit HP-UX operating system. A variety of graphics packages is available. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. priced a typical low-end configuration at $120,400, which includes four processors, 4 GB of internal memory, 18 GB of disk storage, a monitor and VISUALIZE EG graphics.

Redefining the low end of its Unix lineup, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. announced for world markets a family of mission-critical, Internet-optimized HP 9000 Enterprise Servers. The two HP 9000 L-Class products — the dual processor-capable L1000 and the L2000, which can support as many as four 360-MHz or 440-MHz PA-8500 processors — are designed to enable ISPs and midmarket firms to deploy emerging e-services across the Internet. Among other innovations, the entry-level systems run an Internet-enabled version of HP-UX 11. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. priced the L1000 model from $29,900; the L2000 model starts at $40,000. As is typical with HP 9000 servers, HITACHI, LTD., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., NEC CORP. and OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. also will sell the L-Class machines on an OEM basis.

The Linux bandwagon rolls on in Japan as well as in the United States. For instance, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. introduced through its direct sales channel six Prosignia servers with the freeware version of Unix preinstalled. The high-end Prosignia Server 740 Model 660 uses a 600-MHz Pentium III processor. It lists for $3,200 or so. The least expensive Linux machine, the Prosignia Server 720 Model 6450, goes for $1,800. It is powered by a 450-MHz Pentium II. Buyers of these build-to-order systems can get a year of access to a help desk for $1,700. .....Likewise, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s affiliate is marketing Precision workstations with Linux, although customers have to install the open-source operating system themselves since these systems come with Windows NT installed. It opted to use the version from San Francisco's TURBOLINUX, INC. The Japanese-language edition of TurboLinux 4.0 costs $65, while the localized version of TurboLinux Pro 4.2 goes for $220.

The SGI 1000 server family that SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. recently announced has the distinction of being the first Intel Architecture-based enterprise server introduced by the big Unix vendor, which earlier had released Windows NT workstations (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 13). The initial product in the new line, the four-way SGI 1400L workgroup and application server, also is the company's first enterprise-class Linux server. The SGI 1400L, which employs 500-MHz or 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, comes preloaded with the SGI Linux Environment with Red Hat Linux 6.0.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has brought the latest in Pentium processor technology to its ProLiant enterprise-class and workgroup servers. The ProLiant 5500 server for large business and enterprise customers now can be equipped with one to four 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon chips for a minimum of $12,700. At the same time, the performance-boosting power of the 600-MHz Pentium III is available in a number of dual processor-capable ProLiant servers. These include the ProLiant 3000 tower, which starts at $8,500, as well as the rack-mountable ProLiant 1850R for ISPs, corporate data centers and remote sites and its workgroup mate, the $7,800-and-up ProLiant 1600R. Compaq also introduced the next-generation Pentium III technology in its ProLiant 800 tower, which, at a starting price of $4,300, is the firm's most affordable workgroup server, and in the ProLiant 1600 tower for more demanding workgroups and remote/branch sites. Compaq used the switchover to the 600-MHz Pentium III to tweak certain features of some ProLiant servers.

The 600-MHz Pentium III processor also is an option on the mainstream Windows NT-based HP Kayak XU workstation line for as little as $5,000. This family, which offers a choice of 2D and OpenGL 3D graphics, is aimed at such markets as digital content creation and mechanical design. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. used the launch to slash prices on the HP Kayak workstation series that it offers by as much as 27 percent. Now, all models cost less than $9,300. It paired this change with cuts in the prices of the HP VISUALIZE Personal Workstations that were introduced in April (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 15). Sales of these Windows NT machines for technical computing, which share the HP VISUALIZE fx graphics architecture of the Unix version of the line, have fallen far short of expectations. In order to raise shipments closer to the forecast rate of 7,000 units a year from the current level of 4,800 or so annually, HP Japan trimmed the price of the X-Class model with a 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor and 256 MB of internal memory by 10.2 percent to $13,800 and lowered the cost of a P-Class model with a 600-MHz Pentium III chip and 128 MB of system memory to $8,500, a 15.2 percent reduction.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s marketing unit adopted a similar strategy for its Deskpro EN Series, which is designed for enterprise customers that are interested in a combination of value, manageability, serviceability and performance for their client systems. It made the 600-MHz Pentium III processor available in this line at prices, including a monitor, that begin at $3,000. At the same time, it cut the cost of the 27 existing Deskpro EN desktop, minitower and small form-factor configurations by as much as 18 percent.

Increasingly, the competition in the desktop segment of the PC market is between firms trying to outdo each other in terms of offering the most performance at the lowest price. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has two entries in this sweepstakes. For corporate buyers, it is offering a Deskpro EC Series model for as little as $925. That gets a machine with a 433-MHz Celeron processor, a 4.3-GB Ultra ATA hard drive and a 15-inch monitor. The same money also buys the Prosignia Desktop 320 through Compaq's direct sales, build-to-order channel. In fact, people who do not need to buy a monitor can obtain this system, which also features the 433-MHz Celeron processor, for as little as $740.

IBM JAPAN LTD.'s latest candidate is a new member of the low-cost, Japan-only Aptiva E line of desktop PCs introduced in June. Included in the $925 price of the Aptiva 20J, which runs off a 400-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor and features 64 MB of internal memory, are a monitor, a modem, LAN capabilities, and word-processing, spreadsheet and voice-recognition software. The Aptiva 20J has proved to be a heavyweight contender in the ¥100,000 and under desktop category. In fact, initial demand for the machine was so strong that IBM Japan had to boost weekly production to 10,000 units from the planned 6,000 units.

IBM JAPAN LTD. also is trying to ride the wave of interest in the corporate world in space- saving designs. It added the four-model PC 300PL Slim line to the Japan-only PC 300 family. The new systems, which are powered by a 433-MHz Celeron processor, start at $1,600. Simultaneously, the company put on the market four more models in the volume PC 300GL series of desktops and minitowers. Pricing of these Pentium III/Windows 98 machines begins at $3,000.

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A number of American PC vendors recently have buttressed their lineup of low-cost notebooks or at least their entry-level models in an effort to broaden their market reach. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP., for instance, is marketing through its direct sales channel the value- oriented Prosignia Notebook 150 for small businesses. The base configuration is priced at less than $1,600. That covers a 380-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor, 32 MB of internal memory, a 4- GB hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive, ATI Rage Pro 3D graphics, a one-touch Internet access button, a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display and Office 2000. .....For budget-conscious corporate notebook users who want an all-in-one design, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. is offering the Armada 1500C Basic for under $1,900. Running off a 400-MHz Celeron processor and equipped with a minimum of 32 MB of system memory, this unit features simultaneous access to the diskette drive, the 4-GB SMART hard drive, the 24X CD-ROM drive, the 56K V.90 modem and the AC adapter. It also has a dual-function bay for either a diskette drive or a second battery.

Other American PC makers are trying to exploit the strong demand in Japan for slim, lightweight notebooks. DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s latest product targeted at the business end of this market is the Latitude CS R400XT. This 4.3-pound machine comes standard with the fast 400-MHz mobile Pentium II chip, a 13.3-inch active-matrix TFT screen with XGA resolution, 64 MB of RAM and a 4.8-GB hard drive for $2,500. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. countered by releasing the OmniBook 4150, which weighs less than six pounds and measures just 1.4 inches thick. This performance-oriented notebook, which uses a 366-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, offers the choice of a 13.3-inch XGA active-matrix TFT display for $4,200 or a 14.1-inch screen for $4,800.

"Mobile Desktop" is how DELL COMPUTER CORP. describes its new Inspiron 7500 Series. Much of the desktop technology for the two models available in Japan is fairly standard: a 433-MHz Celeron or a 400-MHz Pentium II processor, 32 MB of SDRAM memory or twice that amount and a 4.8-GB or a 10-GB Ultra ATA hard drive. However, the Inspiron 7500 comes with a 15- inch active-matrix TFT screen with either XGA resolution or super XGA+ resolution (1400 x 1050 pixels). These notebooks also have Dell's new MegaBay, which gives users as much as 75 GB of total hard-drive capacity when using optional second and third hard-drive modules. The two units are priced at $2,200 and $3,000, respectively. .....Of course, GATEWAY 2000, INC. might argue that its rival has no monopoly on this description since it also fits the latest Solo 9300 models. These thin, lightweight products offer a choice of processors (360-MHz and 400-MHz Celeron chips or a 400-MHz Pentium II engine), 64 MB of system memory, a 4-GB or a 6.4-GB hard drive, a modular 24X CD-ROM drive or a modular 4X DVD-ROM drive, and a 14.1-inch or a 15-inch XGA active-matrix TFT display. Moreover, the Solo 9300 line is IEEE 1394-compatible. Pricing runs from $2,800 to $3,700.

APPLE COMPUTER, INC. has staged a major comeback in Japan as well as in the United States. It now is banking on an updated desktop line and a new, distinctive-looking notebook computer to keep momentum on the upswing. The sleek Power Mac G4 desktop series delivers processing improvements on its G3 predecessor since the line's new 400-MHz, 450-MHz and 500-MHz PowerPC G4 chips contain a so-called Velocity Engine execution unit that gives speeds a boost. As usual, desktop publishers are expected to be major buyers of the new machines, but the aggressive pricing of the Power Mac G4 series could win Apple some first-time customers. Pricing is open, but purchased directly from the company, the G4s range from $1,800 for the 400-MHz model to $4,000 for the 500-MHz machine.

The iBook also is coming to Japan. If the success of the home-oriented iMac desktop is any indication, the new portable should be another big hit for APPLE COMPUTER, INC. Housed in a semitransparent, clamshell-like case available in tangerine or blueberry, the iBook is powered by a 300-MHz PowerPC G3 processor. It has 32 MB of system memory, 3.2 GB of hard-disk storage, a 24X CD-ROM drive, a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display and a six-hour lithium- ion battery. The iBook, which has a suggested retail price of $1,800, also is the first computer designed specifically to handle wireless networking. Targeted at the consumer and educational markets, the iBook will be sold on launch by 31 companies, including PC volume retailers.

In what certainly is good news for e-business companies and ISPs, Internet caching servers have arrived in Japan. The first major vendor to deliver this help is COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. Its Compaq TaskSmart C-Series servers are the initial products in a planned line of single- purpose servers or what the company calls appliance servers. Using the Internet Caching System architecture developed by NOVELL, INC., the easy-to-deploy, easy-to-manage TaskSmart machines accelerate the performance of e-business Web servers, speed information access across networks and lower network communications costs. In fact, Compaq says, its package, which starts at $15,300, can increase Web response times by as much as 10-fold. The company will have competition in the Internet caching appliance server field before yearend, however, since Novell has licensed its technology to NEC CORP. The first Japanese hardware vendor to become a Novell Internet Caching System partner, NEC will develop an Internet caching server product based on its Express5800 Series of Windows NT servers.

Months behind schedule, IBM JAPAN LTD., many of the country's nationwide commercial banks, including the biggest, BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD., and other businesses were set to launch in early October a company to install and run automatic teller machines at the outlets of FAMILYMART CO., LTD. and four additional convenience store chains. E.NET CO., LTD., in which IBM Japan is the top shareholder with an 8 percent stake, was to be operational last spring. However, government red tape held up the start of business, as reportedly did hesitancy on the part of IBM Japan's parent, which had to be convinced that e.Net met its guidelines for new businesses, particularly its growth and profit potential requirements.

The exponential growth in data volumes has created enormous sales opportunities for suppliers of storage products. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has been especially quick in trying to exploit these openings. Among its latest products is an expandable line of tape library backup solutions designed to ease the burden placed on this equipment by e-services applications. The new family consists of the HP SureStore and the HP SureStore E tape libraries, which support both the HP-UX and the Windows NT operating systems as well as SCSI and Fibre Channel interfaces. These remotely manageable libraries feature the just-released DLT (digital linear tape) 8000 drives for extremely fast data transfers. Based on a common architecture, they offer a choice of a one- or two-drive 20-slot configuration, a two- or four-drive 40-slot combination and a two-, four- or six-drive 60-slot setup. Backup capacity ranges from 800 GB to 2.4 terabytes, with pricing scaling from $29,600 to $140,700.

To meet the data-protection requirements of midsize corporations, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced the DLT 8000-compliant HP SureStore DLT 80 tape backup drive. With 2:1 data compression, it can hold as much as 80 GB of data on a single tape and transfer this information at a maximum rate of 43 GB per hour. The system is compatible with a broad range of server brands and supports the Windows NT, Novell NetWare, Linux, SCO Unix and Sun Solaris operating systems. HP Japan, which expects to sell 1,000 HP SureStore DLT 80 systems a year, priced the internal and the external models at $10,600 each and the rack- mountable version at $11,000.

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PC users in Japan will have access to the latest 250-MB Zip drives from IOMEGA CORP. before American customers do as the company attempts to defend its turf against the encroachment of other storage formats. The subsidiary of the Roy, Utah supplier first will release English- language versions of a USB-compatible Zip drive and one that offers both USB and PCMCIA (personal computer memory card interface) connections. Japanese-language products will be available in late November. Both packages are almost half the size of earlier Zip drives. The USB Zip drive will cost $240, while the combination drive will list for $270.

The second of LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s aggressively priced, watch-out-competition ink-jet printers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 17) will be on store shelves at the end of October. The Z31 Color Jetprinter outputs up to eight pages per minute in black and white and as many as 3.5 ppm in color, both with a resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. It will list for $275. .....In another move to lift sales in Japan, LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s subsidiary signed PILOT CORP. to market cartridges for its ink-jet printers. By tapping into the big writing instruments manufacturer's nationwide distribution channels, Lexmark expects to broaden its customer base beyond people who live in metropolitan areas.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. hopes to fortify sales in the high end of the ink-jet printer market with the HP DeskJet 970Cxi Professional Series printer. The company says that this $535 machine provides its best photo-like reproduction, thanks to its parent's enhanced color layering technology. However, with a print speed of up to 12 ppm in black and 10 ppm in color, the DeskJet 970Cxi is targeted at mainstream business applications. .....With demand for large- format printers expanding in the graphics market, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is optimistic about the sales prospects for the HP DesignJet 2800CP and the HP DesignJet 3800CP. They are the fastest HP DesignJet CP Series printers ever offered, enabling mechanical printing speeds that are up to 60 percent faster than those obtained with the line's existing products while still maintaining photo-quality output. The improved speed and performance are attributable in large part to technology from ELECTRONICS FOR IMAGING, INC. HP Japan priced the HP DesignJet 2800CP at $15,600 and the HP DesignJet 3800CP around $24,900.

Supplies of active-matrix TFT displays are increasingly tight not only because of increasing sales of notebook computers but also due to growing demand for high-resolution flat-panel displays used as desktop monitors. To ensure that this problem does not affect their shipments of computer products, IBM JAPAN LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. have decided to expand capacity at equally owned DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES INC. at a cost of more than $92.6 million. Capacity at DTI's plant in Nosu, Shiga prefecture will be boosted by 50 percent a month to the equivalent of 450,000 12.1-inch displays, while output at the joint venture's original factory in Himeji, Hyogo prefecture, now running at the counterpart of 200,000 10.4-inch screens a month, will be raised by roughly 20 percent. The additional output should be available next spring.

Part of the additional capacity coming onstream at DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s Shiga prefecture facility will be devoted to the output of an extremely high-resolution 15-inch panel developed by IBM JAPAN LTD. With its resolution of 1400 x 1050 pixels, this display is one of the first to meet the new specifications for SXGA+ graphics. Volume production actually will start even before the extra capacity is available at an expected rate of 20,000 to 30,000 units a month. IBM Japan says that the higher resolution of the new display will aid the growth of on- line shopping since customers will get a more accurate view of merchandise.

RARITAN COMPUTER, INC., a Somerset, New Jersey maker of switches that enable multiple computers to be controlled through a single keyboard, monitor and mouse, has formed a subsidiary in Tokyo. Its products have been available through a distributor (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 16). However, demand for its switches is climbing as corporations install more servers, leading to overcrowding in their data centers and a shortage of IT people to manage all the hardware. To support this growth, which is projected to lead to annual sales of $9.3 million in three years, Raritan decided that it needed its own sales and technical services base.

An up-and-coming maker of host adapters and other connectivity products, San Jose, California-based ADVANCED SYSTEM PRODUCTS, INC., also is in the process of establishing a subsidiary. ADVANSYS JAPAN K.K. will backstop current distributors MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and SHINSHO CORP. as well as attempt to sign up other marketers to ensure that sales climb to a projected $15 million in 2000 from an estimated $5 million this year. AdvanSys currently has on the market Fast SCSI, Ultra SCSI, Ultra Wide SCSI and Ultra 2 Wide SCSI host adapters that feature SCSI data transfer rates between system memory and internal and external devices of up to 10, 20, 40 and 80 megabytes per second, respectively. Before yearend, the company plans to release an IEEE 1394-compliant host adapter for linking various digital consumer electronics products to a PC. At the heart of AdvanSys' connectivity products are the company's own RISC processors.

Behind the boost in performance of RICOH CO., LTD.'s latest CD-Recordable/CD-Rewritable drive is its host I/O card, which was supplied by ADAPTEC, INC. of Milpitas, California in the form of the AVA-2903B SCSI card. Ricoh's MediaMaster MP7060 combines a 6X CD-R recording speed capability and a 4X CD-RW rewriting speed with a 24X CD-reader.

LEXAR MEDIA, a supplier of digital film and connection cables that transfer large image files to desktop computers via the faster USB port rather than the serial cable usually included with digital cameras, has enlisted two powerful partners to work with its Tokyo sales office. The Fremont, California company signed OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. to market its 64-MB, USB- enabled CompactFlash digital film card and JumpShot USB cable, which will be cobranded. At the same time, SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and Lexar will comarket the new 32-MB, 8X CompactFlash digital film card and JumpShot cable; it also will be cobranded.

An exchange rate of ¥108=$1.00 was used in this report.

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