Production of polypropylene resin will begin early in January 2000 at ARCO POLYPROPYLENE, LLC's state-of-the-art, 220,000-ton-a-year facility in Carson, California. ITOCHU CORP. (one-third) and ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO.'s ARCO PRODUCTS CO. affiliate (two-thirds) announced the joint venture in September 1998. The $200 million factory is located next to an ARCO refinery that will provide all of the required feedstocks. In anticipation of the start of production, Itochu, the world's largest polypropylene marketer, formed CIPLAS AMERICA, INC. in Long Beach, California. This company will handle international sales, particularly in Asia, as well as marketing in the United States outside of the West Coast. That region will be covered by ARCO Products.
Cutting its losses, surfactant manufacturer NICCA CHEMICAL CO., LTD. ended production of specialty chemical products at its Fountain Inn, South Carolina subsidiary. The plant will continue its profitable specialty textile chemicals business, its initial focus on start- up in 1990. A major source of the favorable results in that area is an agent that repels soil on nylon fabric. In 1996, NICCA U.S.A., INC. diversified, opening a factory to make biphenol-S, which is used in developers for chemicals and papers. That was a bad move, the Fukui prefecture company now acknowledges. Nicca U.S.A.'s sales in 1999 are projected to fall about 10 percent short of the $18.1 million generated in 1998.
Interested in expanding its already significant agrichemicals division, particularly the range of products it sells for organic farming, SUMITOMO CHEMICAL CO., LTD. agreed to buy the agricultural products business of ABBOTT LABORATORIES. The deal includes research and development, sales, marketing and support operations for Abbott's naturally occurring biopesticides, plant growth regulators and other products for agriculture, public health and forestry. Abbott, however, will retain manufacturing rights to the bulk active ingredients for these products. This part of the health-care company's business, which employs some 165 people, had sales of $103 million in 1998. The transaction is expected to close in January 2000. At that time, Sumitomo Chemical will establish VALENT BIOSCIENCES CORP. in Libertyville, Illinois to run the acquired business. This globally focused company will function as an independent subsidiary of VALENT U.S.A. CORP. of Walnut Creek, California, which distributes herbicides and other agrichemicals.
Even second-tier pharmaceutical manufacturers believe that they need a R&D presence in the United States to succeed internationally. The latest company to make this move is SUMITOMO PHARMACEUTICALS CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 2). It formed a wholly owned subsidiary in Fort Lee, New Jersey to oversee clinical testing of commercially promising treatments by contract research organizations as well as to track developments in the American pharmaceutical industry and to explore tie-ups. SUMITOMO PHARMACEUTICALS AMERICA, LTD. will begin operations in March 2000 with a staff of six or seven people. At that time, Sumitomo Pharmaceuticals' liaison office in New York City will close. The Osaka company sees two products under development as candidates for U.S. clinical trials. One is droxidopa for Parkinson's disease; the other, SM-13496, is a schizophrenia treatment.
Fellow midsize drug company MITSUI PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. thinks that its MS- 275, a synthetic benzamide derivative, has sufficient potential as a chemotherapeutic treatment for cancers insensitive to traditional antitumor agents to launch clinical testing in the United States. The firm already has asked specialists at the National Institutes of Health to evaluate the studies completed to date on MS-275, which works by inhibiting histone deacetylase. If those results are verified, Mitsui Pharmaceuticals could contract with a CRO to begin clinical trials as early as 2000. The company recently pulled out of the pesticide business and ended production of bulk ingredients for drugs to concentrate its resources on the more promising field of drug discovery, development and commercialization.
Japan's second-largest pharmaceutical house, SANKYO CO., LTD., has not been shy about its intention to remain a player in the rapidly consolidating world drug industry. Soon after announcing that CS-866 (olmesartan medoxil), an oral antihypertensive angiotensin-II receptor, would be the first product for which it would file an independent new drug application with the Food and Drug Administration (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 2), Sankyo identified three other drugs as strong possibilities for U.S. clinical testing. One is CS-011, an oral antidiabetic agent for Type II, or adult-onset, diabetes. This second-generation glitazone is considered a follow-on to Rezulin (troglitazone), which already is on the American market. Phase I testing of CS-011 is scheduled to start shortly, with FDA marketing approval eyed for 2003. U.S. clinical trials of CS-780, an oral anti-anginal nitrate donor, also could begin in the next few months. The third prospect is CS-502. As with CS-780, Sankyo plans simultaneous development of this oral analgesic and anti-inflammatory COX-II inhibitor in the United States, Europe and Japan.
SANKYO CO., LTD. readily acknowledges that to achieve its goal of selling products commercialized in-house on its own in the United States, it must develop its marketing and distribution capabilities. That was a primary reason the company was interested in obtaining exclusive rights from GELTEX PHARMACEUTI-CALS, INC. to market the Waltham, Massachusetts firm's Cholestagel (colesevelam hydrochloride) in the United States. This drug, expected to receive FDA marketing approval in mid-2000, is a treatment for hypercholesterolemia, which is characterized by undesirably high blood cholesterol levels. Cholestagel will be marketed by SANKYO PARKE-DAVIS CO., a Parsippany, New Jersey joint venture with WARNER-LAMBERT CO. Sankyo will pay GelTex up-front licensing and option fees of $13 million, plus make a $20 million milestone payment once the FDA clears Cholestagel for sale. As part of the agreement, Japan's number-two pharmaceutical company also gains an option to global rights to GelTex's second- generation cholesterol-lowering product, GT102-270, which is in Phase II clinical trials. The exercise of that option will generate additional payments.
A February 1997 partnership between SANKYO CO., LTD. and OSI PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. of Uniondale, New York to discover and develop small molecule compounds to treat influenza has been renewed for two more years. Several active compounds have been identified in the program. They now will be the focus of research to develop drug candidates for clinical testing. Sankyo is covering all the R&D costs as well as making milestone payments. In return, it will have exclusive worldwide commercialization rights to all products resulting from the collaboration. .....Mean-while, a project that SANKYO CO., LTD. began in 1995 with the medical school at the University of Alabama in Birmingham to develop gene therapy-based drugs for collagen-induced arthritis will be extended through 2002 rather than end in 1999 as originally planned. Over the next three years, the pharmaceutical company will provide $5 million-plus in funding to the university to support the ongoing research.
Caspases a family of 11 structurally related human enzymes known to play specific roles in apoptosis or programmed cell death will be the focus of a collaboration between TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. and VERTEX PHARMACEUTICALS INC. Their goal is to discover, develop and commercialize caspase inhibitors for the treatment of cerebrovascular (stroke, for example), cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Cambridge, Massachusetts-headquar-tered Vertex already has developed considerable expertise around one inflammation target in the caspase gene family. This work will be leveraged to other caspase targets. Taisho Pharmaceutical will make a $4 million initial payment to its partner as well as provide research funding and milestone fees. It also will cover up to a third of the cost of developing compounds that emerge from the caspase research program. For this money, the company will have the option to obtain marketing rights to any products in Japan and certain other Asian markets.
Bolstering its efforts to discover novel lead compounds, OTSUKA PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. contracted to use the lead discovery services of PHARMACOPEIA, INC. These services start with high-throughput screening of the Princeton, New Jersey firm's multimillion-compound internal sample collection against an unspecified Otsuka Pharmaceutical target. They also include assay development and assay validation. In addition to fees for these services, Pharma-copeia is entitled to payments for successful achievement of milestones and royalties on marketed products resulting from its work.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
For months, even longer, industry analysts have been saying that it was just a matter of time before NEC CORP. pulled the plug on persistently money-losing PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. That time has arrived. The Sacramento, California manufacturer of personal computers for the consumer or home market, once the number one in that segment but now fifth or sixth in the United States, basically is being reorganized out of existence. Only 500 or so of Packard Bell NEC's current North American and European work force of 2,600 will have jobs when this process is completed. Production of the PCs made in Sacramento will be outsourced, and operations there essentially will be closed. A call center in Magna, Utah is expected to be sold. Most notably perhaps, the Packard Bell brand name will disappear from the U.S. retail market. The commercial division of Packard Bell NEC the NEC Computer Systems Division, which markets Express5800 servers, PowerMate desktop computers, Versa notebook computers and MobilePro handheld PCs to the corporate, government and educational markets under the NEC brand name will remain in business. It will become NEC COMPUTERS, INC. effective January 1, 2000, part of NEC COMPUTERS INTERNATIONAL B.V., which will be in charge of all of NEC's personal computer operations outside of Japan and the People's Republic of China. Since 1995, when Packard Bell NEC's problems began, then new investor NEC and minority (12 percent now) partner GROUPE BULL pumped in excess of $2 billion into the company. The PC manufacturer's losses narrowed to a projected $150 million for 1999, but with NEC itself having problems and announcing a restructuring plan in September, executives decided that the electronics giant no longer could afford to keep Packard Bell NEC afloat.
Mainframe systems marketer AMDAHL CORP. of San Jose, California, a wholly owned FUJITSU, LTD. company, is taking over the U.S. sales and marketing operations of SIEMENS INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION PRODUCTS LLC. The arrangement is an outgrowth of the global distribution agreement that Fujitsu and SIEMENS AG signed earlier this year. The Siemens computer systems product portfolio consists of Intel-based Primergy servers and Unix-based Reliant servers.
The next generation of the wildly popular PALM COMPUTING, INC. handheld platform will be codeveloped with SONY CORP. The starting point for the collaboration is Sony's decision to license the Palm OS operating system and the commitment by Palm Computing, a 3COM CORP. company, to support Sony's flash memory-based Memory Stick technology as part of the Palm Computing platform. The Japanese electronics powerhouse plans to use the Palm Computing platform to develop an entirely new line of information appliances in short, mobile wireless electronics products that include not only today's electronic organizer functions but also audio-video capabilities. On paper at least, these devices will be able to access a broad range of wireless-based network services and content. At the same time, Sony and Palm Computing will work together to develop a version of Palm OS that supports the Memory Stick technology a portable, rerecordable device about the size of a stick of chewing gum that can store digital data, audio, video and music as well as other Sony AV technologies. Palm Computing will be able to license the bulked-up Palm OS to third parties.
The last products released by PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s NEC CSD were three additions to the Versa notebook line targeted at different groups of users. The Versa LXi is aimed at people looking for a desktop replacement at prices starting at $3,000. Running off a 500-MHz mobile Pentium III processor, it incorporates such features as a built-in floppy drive, modular VersaBay III technology and a 15-inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) screen with a XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The Versa VX notebooks deliver convenience and ease of use in a package that weighs 6.4 pounds and measures 1.6 inches thick. They offer a choice of processors, whether Pentium IIIs with a clock speed of up to 500 MHz or 400-MHz and 433-MHz Celeron processors. The same goes for the display: a 12.1-inch TFT screen with a SVGA (super video graphics array) resolution of 800 x 600 or a 14.1-inch XGA TFT display. Hard-drive storage capacity runs from 6 gigabytes to 12 GB. A port replicator for easy connections to peripherals and local area networks also is included in the prices of the Versa VX, which range from $1,700 to $3,600. Finally, for highly mobile users, NEC CSD has the Versa FX, which weighs just 3.5 pounds and has a profile of less than an inch. Inside this slim form is a 400-MHz mobile Pentium III processor, a 12-GB hard drive, a 12.1-inch TFT display and extended battery capability. The price of $2,500 and up also includes external CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory) and floppy disk drives.
The next generation of the ePlate handheld PC from HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. will debut in the first quarter of 2000. Among other innovations, the HPW-630ETR incorporates an 8.2-inch color transflective LCD display that allows use of the device in all conditions, including direct sunlight. It also features a ruggedized case and a cradle option. Wireless LAN connectivity is built in. The new ePlate runs off the latest version of HITACHI, LTD.'s SuperH SH-4 RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processor operating at 128 MHz. This engine was developed specifically for portable appliances like handheld PCs. The operating system is Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition Version 3.0.
MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. will develop the media for MAXOPTIX CORP.'s next-generation Optical Super Density high-capacity, removable, magneto-optical storage devices. The new OSD drives, which combine near-hard drive data-transfer rates and direct overwrite capabilities, will provide storage of 20 gigabytes per side and a growth path to 200 GB per cartridge. The OSD drives and media are designed so that today's MO jukeboxes can be upgraded to the new technology for an almost 800 percent increase in capacity without any changes in the jukebox robotics. Fremont, California-based Maxoptix plans to ship the new OSD drives and media by the fourth quarter of 2000.
In their second tie-up, KENWOOD CORP. and ZEN RESEARCH INC. have codeveloped a CD-ROM drive with an industry-leading read speed of 72X. Like their earlier 52X drive (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 4), the new one is based on the Cupertino, California company's TrueX technology. A Kenwood affiliate was scheduled to start shipping the drive on an original equipment manufacturer basis in late November. Samples were priced around $240 each.
Hard drive OEM customers of FUJITSU COMPUTER PRODUCTS OF AMERICA, INC. will have two new families of enterprise products available by the end of the first quarter of 2000 as well as the San Jose, California firm's next generation of entry-level desktop drives in December. The Enterprise 36LP Series is designed for the most demanding server and workstation applications. Available in capacities of 9.1 GB, 18.2 GB and 36.4 GB, this line features a spindle speed of 10,000 rotations per second, what is said to be the industry's fastest maximum internal data-transfer rate up to 62.5 MB per second and an improved average seek time of 4.7 milliseconds. It is available with either a Fibre Channel or an Ultra3 SCSI (small computer system interface) interface. For the cost- sensitive entry-level server and workstation market, the FUJITSU, LTD. unit has the Enterprise 18LP Series. Compared with their predecessors, these 9.1-GB and 18.2-GB drives, which have a 7,200-RPM spindle speed, deliver a 65 percent improvement in maximum internal data transfer and a 17 percent boost in average seek time. To meet the needs of today's low-cost consumer PC devices, Fujitsu Computer Products rolled out the XV10 family. This line comprises a single-platter 10.2-GB, 5,400-RPM drive and multiplatter 15.3-GB and 20.4-GB, 5,400-RPM drives. According to the company, the industry-leading transfer rate of up to 37.8 MB per second of these products as well as an access time of 9.5 milliseconds and a beefed-up arial density allow the high-speed access to large files that current data-intensive consumer and business applications require.
HITACHI, LTD. intends to be a major player in the market for digital video disc-random access memory drives, which, given their high speed, large storage capacity and rewritability, it sees as the medium of choice in the multimedia world of the future. For now, though, the company is focusing on DVD-RAM drives for PC applications. Its second- generation such product, the GF-2000, will begin sampling in January 2000. With single- sided storage of 4.7 GB, the forthcoming DVD-RAM drive offers some 1.8 times the capacity of its April 1998 predecessor. Moreover, during writing operations, it transfers data twice as fast. .....In the meantime, HITACHI, LTD.'s Brisbane, California marketing unit is shipping a fifth-generation DVD-ROM drive to computer OEMs and multimedia PC upgrade kit suppliers. The GD-5000 can read data from all standard removable optical discs, including both DVD-RAM and DVD-Recordable as well as the full range of CD technologies. It provides a data-transfer rate as high as 11.08 MB per second for DVD- ROM media and 6 MB per second (40X maximum) for CD-ROMs, plus enhanced data- access times for all types of media.
The main promoter of combination drives, RICOH CO., LTD., has moved up the release of its latest product, a four-in-one, CD-Recordable/CD-ReWritable/DVD-ROM drive, in response to strong initial business and consumer interest. The MP9060A drive, part of the MediaMaster line, will allow users to read DVD-ROM and CD-ROM, write to CD-R and rewrite to CD-RW media. Expected to cost less than $400, the drive will have a 6X CD- Recording speed, a 4X CD-ReWriting speed, a 24X CD-ROM reading time and a 4X DVD-ROM reading time.
Small businesses and workgroups never again will have trouble locating an electronic or a paper document. That is the promise made by RICOH SILICON VALLEY, INC. for its novel eCabinet information-management solution. With eCabinet plugged into the office network, all workflow information is routed through it and automatically captured with optical character reading and indexing technologies. Once documents are stored, they then can be searched and retrieved using eCabinet's Web-user interface. Cupertino, California-based Ricoh Silicon Valley, a wholly owned RICOH CO., LTD. subsidiary, specializes in networked office products that harness the powers of the Internet and thin-server hardware/software technologies.
KYOCERA ELECTRONICS, INC.'s strategy for making headway in the extremely competitive U.S. market for laser printers is to emphasize the low cost of ownership of its products just as much as their performance and quality. The latest printer to get this sendoff from the Duluth, Georgia company is the FS-1200, which outputs 12 pages per minute of black text. Based on a suggested price of $650, a long-lasting drum and toner cartridge and low consumable costs, Kyocera Electronics claims that the FS-1200 has the lowest total cost of ownership of any product in its class.
Rounding out its coverage of the ink-jet printer market, SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s Long Beach, California marketing unit introduced a wide-format business graphics printer. The EPSON Stylus Color 1160 prints up to 9.5 pages per minute of black text and 7 ppm of color material with a photo-quality resolution of 1440 dots per inch. It can handle paper sizes ranging from 3.5 x 3.5 inches up to 13 x 44 inches. Compatible with both Windows and Macintosh machines, the EPSON Stylus Color 1160 features built-in USB (universal serial bus) and PC parallel interfaces. It also can be connected to an optional Ethernet print server to serve network requirements. After a $50 mail-in rebate, the printer costs an estimated $400.
Multifunction peripherals have proved to be a tough sale for suppliers, in part because they do not necessarily improve productivity. SHARP CORP. has taken on this complaint in its FO-3800M multifunction digital laser fax/copier/printer/scanner. A true multitasking device, the system simultaneously performs two functions for example, sending or receiving faxes at the same time that printing or copying is going on. The FO-3800M prints or copies at a rate of 8 ppm. .....In a related move, SHARP CORP.'s American marketing unit introduced a multifunction device with one-touch scan to electronic mail for less expensive Internet faxing. The UX-4000M, which will be available in the first quarter of 2000 at an estimated price of $500, also features fax forwarding. In addition to scanning and Internet faxing, the system functions as a digital copier and an 8-ppm laser printer as well as a regular fax machine.
SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. continues to push the envelope on flat-panel displays. The 15-inch Multiscan N50 XGA TFT active-matrix LCD panel showcases the company's latest engineering efforts. The sleek black design measures just a half-inch at the edge and weighs less than 6 pounds. It also incorporates SONY CORP.'s single interface cable, which allows all the circuitry to be designed into a separate module that can be placed out of sight. Other Multiscan N50 innovations are a user sensor that powers the display down or up depending on where the user is and a light sensor that adjusts the monitor's brightness to the ambient light in the room. The Multiscan N50 will be available in January at an estimated price of $1,500. Currently shipping for $1,300 is Sony Electronics' Multiscan M151, a 15.1-inch XGA TFT active-matrix LCD panel. Although measuring 8.2 inches deep and weighing 11.2 pounds, this monitor occupies half the desk space of a conventional 17-inch cathode-ray tube display while weighing 25 percent less.
Although touting its flat-panel display expertise, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. continues to advance its lineup of CRT computer displays, all of which now have been converted to the company's "virtually flat" FD Trinitron technology. Marking the switchover are three Multiscan E Series FD Trinitron displays: the Multiscan E100 15-inch (14-inch viewable image size), Multiscan E200 17-inch (16 inches) and Multiscan E400 19-inch (18 inches) monitors. These products are priced at roughly $230, $380 and $650, respectively.
Low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCDs have an edge on amorphous silicon TFT LCDs in terms of both resolution and brightness for new generations of mobile personal devices, TOSHIBA CORP. maintains. Its latest effort in this field is the world's first 6.3-inch display with XGA resolution. That capability makes the display suitable for such products as electronic books or personal digital picture viewers. The new LCD will be available in the spring of 2000. The sample price will be about $1,000. Toshiba's lineup of low- temperature polysilicon TFT LCDs already includes a 4-inch product with VGA resolution (640 x 480 pixels), an 8.4-inch SVGA model and a 10.4-inch XGA display.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
For the last 13 years, TIFFANY & CO. has leased its flagship store at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan from DAIICHI REAL ESTATE CO., LTD. Now, the 10-story, 124,000-square-foot building, which was designed and built specifically for the luxury jeweler in 1940, is back in Tiffany hands. The company paid $96 million in cash for the property. The former Japanese owner said that it decided to sell to improve its financial position. Although the price Daiichi Real Estate paid for the building in October 1986 was not disclosed, executives indicated that it was about the same as the selling price. That makes the company fortunate compared with many other Japanese investors. In general, American commercial properties bought in the late 1980s and early 1990s have been sold at a loss.
Beating out two other bidders, including another Japanese team, SUMITOMO CORP. and partner MI-TSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. won a $109 million contract to build an automated people mover system at AMERICAN AIRLINES INC.'s new North Terminal at the Miami International Airport. The project, scheduled for completion in 2004, includes design, engineering, construction, vehicles and a closed-circuit television monitoring system. Featuring MHI's unmanned train technology, the 0.8-mile-long system will have four station stops and will carry as many as 74,000 people a day between AA's 47 North Terminal gates, ticketing and baggage areas. Sumitomo and MHI initially will deliver 11 trains with two rubber-wheeled cars each. Up to 20 trains could be in operation if demand requires. The partners will be working with eight Miami-area companies.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Santa Clara, California is the location of YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP.'s U.S. mechatronics marketing unit (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 6). The staff of 10 or so is working to develop customers among semiconductor makers in Silicon Valley for Yaskawa Electric's compact servos, machine controllers and other motion control products, its wide range of drives and its robotics equipment, particularly clean-room robots. In time, the office, which is run by YASKAWA ELECTRIC AMERICA, INC. of Northbrook, Illinois, is expected to help advance the company's technology in the mechatronics field.
By yearend, SMK CORP., a big maker of connectors, switches and other mechanical components for computer, communications and consumer electronics products, planned to open an office to market connectors and other parts for cellular telephones to North American suppliers of this equipment. The site selection process has not been completed, but the Chicago area reportedly is a leading candidate for the new facility. In the United States, SMK plans to target sales to U.S. manufacturers, while its Mexican marketing effort will be directed at Japanese companies producing there. The company already has a distribution subsidiary in Placentia, California. It also makes remote controls for audio and video equipment there.
NICHICON CORP., Japan's top producer of aluminum capacitors and a major maker of tantalum capacitors, and VISHAY INTERTECHNOLOGY, INC. have agreed to combine R&D efforts to advance the state of the art in tantalum capacitors as well as in related materials and production equipment. The Malvern, Pennsylvania company has expertise in this area through its Sprague division. A primary focus of the work will be to lower the ESR (equivalent series resistance) of tantalum capacitors to meet the increasingly demanding requirements of desktop and notebook computer makers and communications equipment suppliers. As a result of the collaboration, Vishay expects to introduce shortly an organic polymer tantalum capacitor with an extremely low ESR. NEC CORP. and KEMET ELECTRONICS CORP. have a similar tie-up (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 6).
Even after all these years, SONY CORP.'s technical prowess still can wow people. The latest demonstration is the VAIO Music Clip. Called a personal network player, this sleek, cigar-size device stores and plays secure digital music content downloaded from the Internet or transferred from an audio CD. The VAIO Music Clip, which has 64 MB of flash memory, holds up to 120 minutes of music files stored using Sony's ATRAC3 audio compression technology. It plugs into the USB port of almost any VAIO desktop or portable PC and downloads an hour of music in about three minutes. On-the-go users can get approximately five hours of continuous playback from a single AA alkaline battery. The VAIO Music Clip will be available in January 2000 at a suggested price of $300.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The progressive deregulation of Japan's power-generation market has a number of domestic firms scrambling to gain the expertise to take advantage of the business opportunities emerging. For MITSUBISHI CORP. and TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC., one means to this end is to become shareholders in independent power producer ORION POWER HOLDINGS, INC. Through recently formed DIAMOND GENERATING CORP. of Los Angeles, the trader invested $120 million in the Baltimore- based company, which was established in March 1998 by CONSTELLATION ENERGY GROUP, the parent of BALTIMORE GAS AND ELECTRIC CO., and investment banker GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO. to acquire electric generating plants across the United States and Canada. TEPCO, Japan's top electricity supplier, put $80 million into Orion. By mid- 2000, Orion expects to have spent more than $2.7 billion to buy in excess of 5,200 megawatts of generating capacity in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Pending is a $1.7 billion deal to purchase seven plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio from DUQUESNE LIGHT CO. that have a combined generating capacity of 2,600 MW. Orion sells the electricity it produces to local utilities.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a further diversification of its U.S. agricultural operations, ITOCHU CORP. has introduced in California a feed additive developed by CALPIS CO., LTD. Calsporin is a beneficial bacterial product that is said to lower the incidence of salmonella in poultry. It also reportedly reduces the presence of other harmful bacteria found in the intestines of livestock. Itochu subsidiary QUALITY TRADERS INC. is handling sales, which it plans to extend nationwide. The Cincinnati, Ohio company believes that Calsporin can develop into a $19 million to $28.6 million business in the United States in three or four years.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
At a cost of roughly $47.6 million, AICHI STEEL CORP. is buying the 80 percent of LOUISVILLE FORGE AND GEAR WORKS, LLC that it does not own already. The manufacturer of specialty steel and forged products bought into the Georgetown, Kentucky company in August 1997, paying some $10 million for its initial stake. Louisville Forge makes such forged products as crankshafts, gears, knuckles, camshafts and connecting rods for the automotive and off-road equipment industries. Its primary customer is TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s main North American assembly complex, which also is located in Georgetown. However, Aichi Steel, which does a considerable amount of business with Toyota at home, hopes that Louisville Forge can win contracts from other companies. Such an expansion would help boost sales above the current annual total of about $76.2 million.
STRAWBERRY CORP. is moving into the American market for microhinges used in such products as cellular phones and PCs. Although only three years old, the Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture manufacturer claims to be the world's leading supplier of precision hinges for cell phones. Executives attribute this success not only to cutting-edge design and production capabilities but also to the company's ability to quickly engineer products to customers' requirements. That responsiveness, in turn, is the result of what Strawberry says is the largest number of computer-aided design and manufacturing systems in the hinge industry.
Virtually unnoticed outside the business, SONY CORP.'s main U.S. subsidiary sold MATERIALS RESEARCH CORP. to industrial gases giant PRAXAIR, INC. Sony's 1989 purchase of Orangeburg, New York-headquartered MRC, then a manufacturer of chemical vapor deposition and physical vapor deposition equipment for semiconductor producers as well as of thin-film deposition materials, became a political issue in the United States because of worries that Japanese competitors not only would dominate the chip market but also take over the semiconductor manufacturing equipment end of the industry. Those fears have evaporated. In the meantime, Sony sold MRC's equipment division to TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. The operations acquired by Praxair of Danbury, Connecticut consist of deposition materials, mainly sputtering targets for semiconductor production.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
During the mid-1980s, HOSOKAWA MICRON CORP.'s New York City subsidiary used acquisitions to build what it calls product recovery products industrial filter media, filter bags and cloths, for example into one of its four major businesses. However, those operations, which span North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa, have become a drag on profits. To sharpen its focus on its other activities, particularly powder and particle processing equipment, HOSOKAWA MICRON INTERNATIONAL, INC. has agreed to sell its global product recovery product line to BEACON INDUSTRIAL GROUP LLC of Charlotte, North Carolina for an undisclosed price. The transaction, which is expected to close in January 2000, covers products and services marketed under the MikroPul, Menardi-Criswell, Filtex and Filter Media brand names.
Although operations began only about a year ago, an expansion is underway at bellows manufacturer NABELL CORP.'s plant in New London, North Carolina. A cutting and sewing line has been set up, and a welding machine is scheduled for installation in advance of the start of production of advanced folding bellows. The Nabell subsidiary already has an order for AF bellows from the U.S. affiliate of a Japanese linear motion guide maker. It also has had feelers from a number of semiconductor and medical equipment makers. Those inquiries have convinced Nabell that its U.S. sales could reach $1.3 million in 2000.
Production of KUBOTA CORP.'s new BX-Series of subcompact tractors has started at the company's 11-year-old plant in Gainesville, Georgia. The two models in the line the BX 1800, which features an 18-horse-power version of Kubota's three-cylinder, liquid-cooled E-TVCS diesel engine, and the 22-hp BX 2200 were designed specifically for the American and European markets. They are targeted at commercial operations that require more than a lawn and garden tractor but something smaller and more efficient than the company's mainstream compact tractors. Both are equipped with four-wheel drive and a heavy-duty, two-speed hydrostatic transmission. The BX 1800 is priced at $11,000, and the BX 2200 lists at $11,500. KUBOTA MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA CORP. expects to produce 4,000 BX-Series tractors for the U.S. market in 2000 and 1,000 for European sale.
KOMATSU UTILITY CORP. hopes to ride the strong demand in the United States for compact excavators and sell 2,000 units in 2001 versus 500 or so in 1998. Key to the Vernon Hills, Illinois company's ambitious goal are three models in KOMATSU LTD.'s new MRx compact excavator family. These products, which have lifting capacities of 740 pounds (the 4,829-lb. PC20MRx), 925 pounds (the 7,056-lb. PC30MRx) and 1,145 pounds (the 9,900-lb. PC40MRx), can work in tight areas without sacrificing power or performance thanks to their small tail swing radius. The MRx compact excavators also feature the HydrauMind hydraulic control system found in Komatsu's full-size excavators as well as proportional pressure-controlled joysticks and swing booms. Of course, Komatsu is not alone in hoping to boost sales of compact excavators. YANMAR DIESEL ENGINE CO., LTD.'s Buffalo Grove, Illinois subsidiary expects to double sales in FY 2000 from the 500 units projected to be sold in FY 1999. KOBE STEEL, LTD.'s Stafford, Texas construction machinery operation also is eyeing a 100 percent jump in compact excavator sales. However, both of these competitors plan to achieve their targets with their existing product lines.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Taking aim at XEROX CORP.'s near-stranglehold on digital machines for print-on-demand establishments and centralized corporate production centers, CANON INC.'s Lake Success, New York subsidiary introduced its first high-volume digital printer/copier product. The imageRUNNER 110, which will be available in the first quarter of 2000, prints 110 pages of black text per minute with a resolution of 600 dots per inch. Interestingly, the machine will be made by the German printing press manufacturer that earlier this year bought EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s high-end copier business. Canon did not release any pricing information, but industry sources estimate that the imageRUNNER 110 will cost in the low $200,000 range. Xerox's DocuTech production printing line, which spans machines printing 65 ppm to 180 ppm, is priced between $100,000 and nearly $500,000. Over the last year or so, Canon has moved aggressively into the market for digital copiers/printers, unveiling imageRUNNER products for both low end and midrange copying requirements.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Within the next two years, FURUKAWA ELECTRIC CO., LTD. expects to be one of the three biggest optoelectronics suppliers in North America. To this end, it formed FITEL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. in Clinton, New Jersey to run all existing FEC optoelectronics operations in North America. FITEL Technologies is backed by new design and product development centers in Clinton and in Marlborough, Massachusetts. It also can draw on the resources of FEC's existing marketing and sales offices in Peachtree City, Georgia and Santa Clara, California. Beyond a new organizational form, the company's strategy for ascending the ranks of optoelectronics suppliers is to maintain its current leadership position in power pump lasers while providing integrated, custom passive devices for DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) optical networking systems and optical amplifiers.
SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. is working with CIDRA CORP. to advance the capabilities of the Wallingford, Connecticut firm's distributed fiber-optic sensing systems. Oil companies use these imaging and monitoring systems to locate, manage and control hydrocarbon resources. The partners' immediate goal is to develop distributed sensors. These are required, CiDRA says, because as wells become deeper, hotter and more complicated, the current alternative technology, single-point electronic sensors, no longer are effective. SEI, which is CiDRA's fiber-optic cable supplier, invested $1 million in its collaborator as part of the tie-up.
Marketing will start in spring 2000 of a tissue preparation system developed by the Torrance, California subsidiary of histology and cytology equipment manufacturer SAKURA FINE TECHNICAL CO., LTD. The Tissue-Tek Paraform Sectionable Cassette System is designed to streamline the now time-consuming job of embedding tissue in a cassette and removing the processed tissue and placing it in an embedding mold while, at the same time, making the process more exact. For greater efficiency, SAKURA FINETEK U.S.A., INC. is working on an automated version of the Paraform cassette system. A prototype should be available in the fall of 2000. Sakura Fine Technical plans to market both products in Europe and Japan.
The team of TOTOKU CORP. and Westminster, Colorado-based DATA-RAY CORP. has developed what is said to be the world's first perfectly flat CRT monitor for PACS (picture archive and communication systems) medical imaging. This profile eliminates the distortion typically associated with a CRT's curved screen. The DR96 Digital also employs automatic luminance stability circuitry. By continuously compensating for beam current degradation, this technology ensures that brightness levels remain stable both over time and among monitors. Shipments of the DR96 are scheduled to start in January 2000. Data- Ray, a designer and manufacturer of high-performance monitors for medical, industrial and scientific imaging applications, is owned by NIPPON CHEMI-CON CORP.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
To support its push into the international market for set-top boxes and other digital television broadcast equipment, MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. invested $5 million in TERALOGIC, INC. The fabless Mountain View, California start-up, in which MELCO has a 4.3 percent stake, has made a name for itself as a developer of low-cost, high-performance graphics and video processing chipsets for digital TV set-top boxes. Satellite-beamed digital TV broadcasting will begin in Japan toward the end of 2000, followed by terrestrial broadcasting in 2003. By then, ground-based digital TV broadcasting should have started in Europe and Australia. It already is available on a limited scale in the United States. Like other consumer electronics manufacturers, MELCO sees in that rollout a surge in demand for digital TV set-top boxes. TeraLogic's chips have been available in Japan since the spring of 1998.
By the spring of 2000, NEC CORP. expects to be selling 1 million virtual channel memories a month. Within a year, it believes that it can jump the monthly total to 5 million units. A volume order from PC supplier MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. of Nampa, Idaho is one key to this confidence. The chipmaker's VCM is a new, open-standard DRAM (dynamic RAM) core architecture that addresses the demands that today's multimedia PCs place on their system memories. It does this by increasing memory bus efficiency and performance.
Management of R&D activities for all CANON INC. operations in the Americas has been assigned to CANON U.S.A., INC.'s new Canon Research and Development Group. This organization is headquartered in a recently opened, 163,500-square-foot facility in San Jose, California. Nearly half of the building is occupied by Canon U.S.A.'s Semiconductor Equipment Division. It has space for sales, marketing, customer support and training, including a large clean room where Canon's wafer steppers and scanners can be demonstrated and evaluated. The facility also houses Canon U.S.A.'s software development and publishing unit. That proximity is expected to facilitate timely development of new stepper and scanner software. The center will be used to service and refurbish the company's microlithography tools, work that until now has been performed in Japan. Located in the center as well is the sales and support staff for Canon U.S.A.'s camera, components and computer peripherals divisions.
SHIN-ETSU CHEMICAL CO., LTD.'s Phoenix, Arizona subsidiary is working with wafer stepper manufacturer ULTRATECH STEPPER, INC. to develop processes for thick-film and specialty photoresist applications using the San Jose, California company's 1x and reduction line of microlithography tools. The partners will use Ultratech Stepper's latest equipment to evaluate SHIN-ETSU MICROSI, INC.'s I-line, G-line and broadband resist materials (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 8). They also will examine the use of these products in a variety of applications, including thin-film heads, micromachining and bump processing.
Semiconductor production equipment manufacturer DSI K.K. has given AMTECH SYSTEMS, INC. of Tempe, Arizona exclusive rights for three years to market its high vacuum-type vertical furnace system for annealing in the United States, Europe and China. In South Korea and Taiwan, the Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture company and its marketing partner, which also makes semiconductor production equipment, will collaborate on sales. DSI's SA-200HV features a unique double-wall process tube system that provides a high vacuum with a very low oxygen concentration. For precise temperature control, it has a touch panel controller. The SA-200HV can transfer as many as 25 200-millime-ter (8-inch) wafers at a time. Through its alliance with Amtech Systems, DSI hopes to sell 10 SA- 200HV furnaces outside Japan in 2000 for revenues of $3.8 million and $9.5 million worth in 2003.
ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. selected the Unity DRM oxide etcher from TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. to perform the critical local interconnect application involving cobalt silicide at its Fab 25 microprocessor front end. AMD migrated to CoSi from titanium silicide when it switched to 0.25-micron processing tech-nology for its new generation of speedy chips. The firm said that it chose the Unity DRM oxide etcher because of its suitability for high-volume manufacturing, the tool's superior critical dimension control, and its highly selective process and precise chamber matching. TEL is the world's leading supplier of oxide etching systems.
In January, the Austin, Texas subsidiary of TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. will begin marketing a fully automatic prober for 300-mm (12-inch) wafers. The mechanical architecture of the second-generation Model P-12XL is designed to sustain high loads while maintaining accuracy. This combination, TEL says, accommodates optimal test conditions for high-pin- count advanced logic and memory devices as well as the precision needed for on-axis alignment of narrow-pitch, small-pad devices across wide temperature ranges. The system comes standard with capabilities for inspecting probe tips and probe marks, a semi- automatic probe card changer for changing larger probe cards and temperature control systems. The Model P-12XL is software-compatible with TEL's 200-mm wafer prober, the P-8 Series Model.
The Methuen, Massachusetts marketing unit of ULVAC JAPAN, LTD. has introduced a pair of sputtering systems. The small, cluster-type Model SME-200 sputtering system for compound semiconductor and SAW (surface acoustic wave) devices responds to manufacturers' interest in depositing thinner films for more compact parts. It can be used with wafers that measure up to 200 mm. Another selling point is the configurability of the SME- 200 with one of three process chambers: a sputtering chamber, a plasma chamber or a heating chamber. The other new sputtering system, the Model SRH-820, is designed for processing CSP (chip-scale packaging) parts. This high-throughput system also can accommodate wafers up to 200 mm. It offers the flexibility of seven process modules, including heating, etching and sputtering.
Generation six of KOMATSU LTD.'s krypton excimer laser light source for high numerical aperture steppers and scanners is available from the company's Santa Clara, California sales office (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 9). The G21K is the world's first deep ultraviolet excimer laser for 0.13-micron processing. It builds on the 248-nanometer, KrF 20-kilohertz G20K excimer laser light source, which is targeted at the 0.15-micron node. To enable steppers and scanners to expose finer line geometries, Komatsu narrowed the laser's bandwidth. It also improved the G21K's energy dose stability.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Within weeks of opening its doors, the Internet Incubator at PANASONIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC.'s Panasonic Digital Concepts Center in Cupertino, California was home to five early-stage, rapidly growing Internet and electronic commerce start-ups (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 9). The companies that passed the PDCC test are: 2ROAM, INC., which provides translation solutions to deliver Web- based content, commerce and services to handheld wireless devices; DYNAPTICS CORP., a developer of on-line impulse buying software; EMENTORING. COM, INC., an on-line learning source for global business skills; FORT NOCS, INC., an Internet applications development and hosting company; and MAGIC-BEANSTALK.COM, INC., which is a meeting place for participants in the dot-com revolution. At this stage, PDCC's Internet Incubator has room for 10 more entrepreneurial ventures.
American Internet start-ups that need money to get off the ground or to expand continue to find willing investors among the handful of Japanese companies that have tied their future to this medium. For example, year-old PRESENTER.COM, INC., which describes itself as the Web's first on-line exchange and forum for presenters and consumers of expert- knowledge content, raised $6.5 million in initial venture-capital funding from SOFTBANK CORP., TRANS COSMOS INC. and a former chief executive of APPLE COMPUTER, INC. The San Jose, California company will use the money to expand operations and staffing, implement an international marketing campaign and develop additional applications for its expert-based information exchange system. Presenter.com, which plans an initial public offering in 2001, uses proprietary encoding technology to transform videotaped events into iPresentations a new media form that combines streaming audio synchronized with transitional video or still slides and fully indexed presentations of experts from around the world discussing a variety of business-relevant subjects.
SOFTBANK CORP.'s Mountain View, California-based SOFTBANK VENTURE CAPITAL unit, which manages venture-capital funds focused mainly on early-stage Internet companies, hopes to bolster its reputation as the driving force behind some of the most successful Internet start-ups in the United States by leading a $7.5 million round of follow- up financing for DR- DREW.COM, INC. This Pasadena, California company just launched a health and life-style Web site and community aimed at young adults. It takes its name from Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is called the favorite television and radio doctor of the Internet generation. The site is designed to give hard-to-reach 14-to-34-year-olds a forum for exploring a wide range of physical, mental and emotional health topics.
In another test of its ability to pick winners, SOFTBANK VENTURE CAPITAL joined two other American venture-capital funds in putting up money for SPIN MEDIA NETWORK, INC. Established in 1998, the Palo Alto, California company runs Spinway.com, which offers businesses free cobranded or private-label dial-up Internet access to drive traffic and broaden their brand identity. It does this by allowing companies to offer personalized content, rewards programs, instant messaging, full-featured electronic mail and parental- control software. Spinway.com also is said to be the only site that features full-motion video at dial-up.
Softbank Group companies have been the leading source of funding for American Internet start-ups, but HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC., Japan's biggest distributor of cellular telephones, also is making a name for itself. Among other recent initiatives, the company spearheaded a round of venture-capital financing that raised $20 million for INTRANETS.COM, INC. The Woburn, Massachusetts business, which launched its Web site less than three months ago, provides free intranet portals for small and midsize businesses and organizations, including Web hosting and custom URLs. More than 55,000 entities already have registered for the services. Intranets.com, a product of the idealab! Internet incubator, will use the new funding mainly to finance a major marketing campaign.
Another Internet venture that has caught HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC.'s eye is MEDSITE.COM, INC. The four-year-old, Manhattan-based business, which calls itself the physician's home on the Internet, generated $36 million in follow-on financing through the sale of preferred stock to a number of venture-capital funds or firms as well as to the Japanese company and a big U.S. health-care operation. Medsite.com offers a broad selection of medical books, software, journals and supplies, plus such services as medical news, electronic physician credentialing and continuing education.
XSIDES CORP. (formerly The Pixel Co.) also received a vote of confidence from HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. The Japanese business joined other investors in providing $15 million in second-round financing for the Seattle operation, which is developing technology that brings Internet applications and services to PCs independent of and outside the machine's operating system. Through partnerships with other companies, xSides delivers such content as customized e-mail, news and weather via a permanent miniature portal window on the desktop.
In an investment right down its alley, HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. joined four other companies, including 3COM CORP., to provide $14 million in second-round financing for PARAGON SOFTWARE INC. The Santa Clara, California firm's FoneSync software technology is the de facto platform for synchronizing personal information between the desktop and the Internet and mobile phones. Some of Japan's biggest manufacturers of cellular phone handsets have worked with Paragon to develop its software.
TRANS COSMOS INC. and its Bellevue, Washington subsidiary also have built up an enviable portfolio of dot-com investments. One of the latest additions is TRANZ-SEND BROADCASTING NETWORK, INC., into which the American affiliate put more than $3 million. Some of this money will be used to launch the San Francisco firm's ClickMovie.com site, which electronically delivers movies to TV sets using a PC as the set-top box. Tranz- Send's ultimate goal, though, is to use the Internet to make all types of high-quality video available on demand. .....TRANS COSMOS INC.'s U.S. unit also participated in raising $2 million in seed funding for BRAND3 INC. Founded last spring, the Los Angeles developer of Internet-based relationship-building programs for branded organizations will use the money to launch its first offerings in early 2000. Its mission is to enable merchants to extend their brand and marketing message beyond banner ads and limited portal plays. The means is Brand3's GluOn software. It allows an organization to permanently put its logo on the desktops of customers who have signed on or who have requested the free Internet access, e-mail or chat services that participating retailers can provide thanks to their tie-ups with Brand3.
Japan's trading companies also have emerged as a source of funding for Internet and information technology ventures. For instance, ITOCHU CORP. led a group of venture- capital funds and private investors that put up $2.4 million in first-round financing for ZIPLIP. COM, INC. The Mountain View, California business, which launched its Web site in July, specializes in secure messaging and collaborative services. ZipLip was the first company to offer free, totally private e-mail and file transfer over the Web. Its fee-based services include secure document delivery, file-sharing, storage, bulletin board and other collaboration tools. With more money in hand, ZipLip will scale up operations, broaden its product lines and expand marketing.
For their part, MITSUBISHI CORP. and it primary U.S. subsidiary acquired a reported 25 percent in ERGONOMIC TECHNOLOGIES CORP. for an undisclosed amount. The six- year-old Oyster Bay, New York ergonomic consulting technology company will use the investment in part to complete the development of its ergonomic enterprise work-force planning software for Fortune 500 businesses. ETC also will earmark some of the money to begin an Internet-based workplace risk assessment service. .....At the same time, MC CAPITAL INC., the New York City venture-capital arm of MI-TSUBISHI CORP., joined SOFTBANK TECHNOLOGY VENTURES L.P. and a long list of other investors, including many big names, in providing $35 million in mezzanine financing for RECIPROCAL, INC. The Buffalo, New York-headquartered company is in the digital rights management business, enabling content owners to secure their material for distribution and sale over the Internet. Its highly scalable Digital Clearing Service, which just started, is compatible with a variety of platforms, vendors and content types and can handle millions of transactions a day.
Forthcoming SONY CORP. audio products featuring the consumer electronics innovator's OpenMG and MagicGate copyright management technologies will be able to play music content protected by INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s Electronic Music Management System a comprehensive electronic-business solution for the sale and secure downloading of music. This interoperability is the result of an agreement the two reached last spring (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, pp. 9-10). Sony's Memory Stick Walkman and VAIO Music Clip personal audio players, which will be packaged with OpenMG software, will be the first products to feature IBM's EMMS solution. The next step in the collaboration is a wireless music distribution field trial in Japan with NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. This test, expected to start in the first half of 2000, will enable consumers to receive and play EMMS-secured music content over NTT DoCoMo's personal handyphone system data-communications network using Sony's Memory Stick as the recording media in portable devices.
In an arrangement also designed to promote digital music downloads to personal audio players and PCs while protecting the intellectual property of artists, music labels and other rights holders, SONY CORP. agreed to make OpenMG interoperable with MICROSOFT CORP.'s Windows Media digital rights management format. As with the IBM collaboration, the end result here will be that content protected by Microsoft's DRM system can be securely supported on the Memory Stick Walkman, the VAIO Music Clip and other OpenMG-compliant devices. In conjunction with this announcement, Sony said that it would support the Windows Media Audio audio-compression technology on the VAIO Music Clip in addition to its proprietary ATRAC3 technology. In a trade-off of sorts, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. agreed as part of its expanding electronic-music alliance with Sony to back the ATRAC3 sound-compression know-how.
Last January's agreement between SONY CORP. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. to bridge the Sony-backed HAVi (home audio-visual interoperability) standard for AV equipment and Sun's Jini (Java infrastructure initiative) platform, which is aimed at information appliances (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, pp. 24-25), has evolved. The pair now plan to work on technologies to directly link digital consumer devices and Internet-based content and services. Their initial focus is the development of home- gateway software that will run on such appliances as set-top boxes and digital TV sets and bring the Internet to consumers without using PCs. Network server technologies are the other thrust of the expanded tie-up.
FUJITSU, LTD. and TIVOLI SYSTEMS INC. have signed a wide-ranging cooperation agreement designed to help their mutual customers worldwide more efficiently leverage their IT resources. For starters, the diversified electronics company will bundle Tivoli Management Agent with storage systems currently under development. This pairing, the new partners said, will help Fujitsu customers reduce the complexity of implementing Tivoli Enterprise technology management software. Second, Fujitsu will offer Tivoli Storage Manager 3.7 as part of its SystemWalker suite of network management products for enterprise customers. It also will integrate several other main SystemWalker components with Tivoli Enterprise. Finally, Fujitsu will join the Austin, Texas company's Team Tivoli partner program. In conjunction with this worldwide arrangement, Tivoli's Japanese subsidiary will offer its customers several SystemWalker management products and Tivoli Ready SystemWalker applications.
Hoping to win more business from big financial services providers and communications companies in need of mission-critical integration solutions, the Waltham, Massachusetts- based Software Solutions Division of HITACHI COMPUTER PRODUCTS (AMERICA), INC. joined forces with TOTAL TRANSACTION MANAGEMENT. The alliance will draw on the HITACHI, LTD. organization's expertise in large-scale infrastructure software and San Diego, California-headquar-tered TTM's experience in the integration of Web-based and legacy systems with scalable and robust middleware systems. Hitachi's infrastructure software includes the Hitachi Enterprise Application Manager distributed application middleware, which allows direct measurement and management of large distributed applications. Another product is Hitachi TPBroker for Java and C++. This custom application development platform provides the infrastructure for communications and CORBA (common object request broker architecture)-based transactions. TPBroker also has several add-ons.
A wider range of scientific and technical applications soon will be available for COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s powerful 64-bit Unix AlphaServers, thanks to an agreement that the big computer supplier signed with FUJITSU, LTD. Under it, the two initially will port the Japanese company's MOPAC 2000 calculation system, which is used to obtain molecular orbitals from macromolecular structures, to the Compaq high-per- formance computing platform. Later, they plan to optimize Fujitsu's molecular dynamics software, MASPHYS, its VisLink network visualization tool and other science and technology applications to run on the Compaq system. These products will be jointly marketed in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Attempting to ride the constantly building Linux wave in the United States, FUJITSU SOFTWARE CORP. will release in the first quarter of 2000 a version of TeamWARE Office 5.3 that supports the open-source operating system. This suite of groupware applications includes e-mail, time and resource scheduling, discussion forums, and document management and retrieval functions. The forthcoming package will work with Caldera Open Linux, Red Hat Linux and Turbo Linux. In the future, San Jose, California- based Fujitsu Software plans to offer other TeamWARE products that support the Linux platform.
To ensure the continued penetration of the IMAGER line of digital document systems into corporate offices, the Sharp Document & Network Systems of America Division of SHARP CORP.'s main U.S. subsidiary soon will release a pair of document management applications. Both were developed by SHARP LABORATORIES OF AMERICA, INC. in Camas, Washington. One of the products is SharpDesk, which links hard copy and digital images to application software. That integration gives users the ability to manage and merge documents from various sources, edit and manipulate them, and then produce finished documents locally or send them electronically anywhere in the world. The other SLA-developed product is the Sharp Printer Administration Utility. It allows remote configuration and monitoring of Sharp and other companies' printers.
CASIO SOFT, INC., the San Jose, California mobile productivity software development subsidiary of CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD., announced Casio Soft Project 2.0. This program lets users import and export Microsoft Project-compatible project schedules directly from and to handheld or palm-size PCs, including Casio's line of Windows CE- operating Cassiopeia products.
In a deal valued at $16 million, NAMCO LTD., one of Japan's three largest makers of arcade-type video game equipment, has agreed to buy VIRTUAL MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT INC. The Andover, Massachusetts company specializes in music- based video games. It has developed games for the Sony PlayStation and other platforms. VME also codeveloped a karaoke sing-along game with PIONEER CORP.
In a coup for home video game content developer KONAMI CO., LTD., the company is teaming with the Disney Interactive unit of WALT DISNEY CO.'s Disney Consumer Products Division and ESPN, INC. of Bristol, Connecticut to produce a full line of ESPN sports titles for video game consoles and PCs. Approximately 10 titles are planned for launch in 2000 for such interactive game platforms as the Sega Dreamcast and the Sony PlayStation. The initial titles will be based on officially licensed league sports, but later ones will draw on exclusive ESPN programming.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
With a near-term investment of $1.2 billion, trader MARUBENI CORP. hopes to develop high-speed, high-bandwidth global data communications services into one of its core businesses. The company already has committed most of this money. Marubeni is a partner along with GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. and others in Pacific Crossing-1, the first privately owned and operated transpacific undersea fiber-optic cable network. Marubeni also owns 51 percent of GLOBAL ACCESS LTD., a joint venture with Global Crossing that is building a state-of-the-art terrestrial fiber-optic network to link the two PC-1 cable stations in Japan to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 26). Both the subsea system and the terrestrial network are nearing completion. In addition, the trader is participating along with such companies as BELL ATLANTIC CORP. in laying the FLAG undersea fiber-optic cable network between the United States and Great Britain. This link is scheduled for completion in 2001. With the international infrastructure almost in place, including a Japan-Great Britain connection, Ma- rubeni founded GLOBAL BANDWIDTH SOLUTIONS, INC. This New York City- headquartered subsidiary, which the trader is planning to take public on the NASDAQ over- the-counter market in the summer of 2000, will be in charge of selling data communications capacity to multinationals around the world.
KYOCERA CORP. is likely to become the second source of supply of iDEN (integrated digital enhanced network) handsets to wireless services provider NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC. The two have signed a memorandum of understanding. To finalize the deal, Kyocera must arrange to license the iDEN technology from MOTOROLA INC., the developer of this know-how which combines digital cellular service with text/numeric paging and digital two-way radio and currently the Reston, Virginia company's only handset manufacturer. Nextel indicated that it felt that it had to diversify suppliers because of the recently rapid growth in its subscriber numbers. The Kyocera- made handsets should be available in late 2000.
Already the producer of modems for METRICOM, INC.'s current-generation Ricochet mobile communications service, ALPS ELECTRIC (U.S.A.), INC. will make the modems for the Los Gatos, California firm's forthcoming 128-kilobit-per-second service. The new devices, which will begin shipping in the second quarter of 2000 in anticipation of a summer launch of the Ricochet 128-kbps service, will work with both serial and USB ports on portable computers. Ricochet uses small antennas on the customer's equipment that exchange data with microcell radios mounted on city streetlight and utility poles. These radios communicate with each other and with local wired access points that, in turn, are connected to a wired local network and the national Internet backbone. San Jose, California- headquartered Alps Electric (U.S.A.) primarily is a manufacturer of computer peripherals.
CBS CORP. is using production equipment manufactured by SONY CORP. to create digital high-defini-tion programming for its morning news shows. The contract, which industry sources estimate was worth somewhere between $4.8 million and $5.7 million, includes nine studio cameras and companion control units, plus 39 plasma display monitors that measure 42 inches diagonally. CBS already has some Sony digital broadcast equipment in its studios. It also has digital production systems from Sony archrival MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. The network's directly owned affiliates are installing MEI equipment for their own digital broadcasting.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Operations in Japan will bear the brunt of the restructuring plan that NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. announced in mid-October, but the number-two Japanese automotive maker's North American business will not be exempt from this cost-cutting, efficiency-boosting initiative. For starters, 1,000 jobs will be cut by April 2001, primarily by eliminating overlapping positions in NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC.'s various units. In fact, however, more than half of the reduction already has been completed, in part through attrition but mainly because Nissan outsourced all of its information technology activities in the United States and Canada to INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 3). The remaining cuts will come from Nissan North America's regional sales offices and financing unit as well as from among the roughly 1,200 white-collar workers at NISSAN MOTOR MANUFACTURING CORP. U.S.A. in Smyrna, Tennessee. The downsizing will not affect the 4,800 or so people who work on the factory floor making the Altima sedan, the Frontier pickup and the Xterra sport- utility vehicle. As part of the restructuring, though, Nissan Motor Manufacturing will cease to be a stand-alone company effective April 1, 2000, becoming instead part of Gardena, California-based Nissan North America.
TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. and GENERAL MOTORS CORP. have codeveloped an inductive charging system for electric vehicles that is based on the American partner's Magne-Charge inductive-charge technology. This breakthrough is the result of a June 1998 agreement. Unlike the conductive charging systems tried until now, this one has the advantages of being small and lightweight. Perhaps most importantly, it does not need to be installed in the electric vehicle. Toyota is using the new charging system in the electric- powered version of its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle, which just went on sale in Japan. Under a wide-ranging five-year arrangement announced last spring, Toyota and GM now are trying to prove technologies for vehicles powered by alternatives to gasoline (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 14).
With an order in hand from DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG for sintered camshafts for one of its light trucks, the Grand Haven, Michigan joint venture between NIPPON PISTON RING CO., LTD. (20 percent) and FEDERAL-MOGUL CORP. will double output of this component. Little additional money will have to be invested in equipment to reach this target. Starting in March 2000, the partners will have the capacity to make 100,000 sintered camshafts a month. The joint venture now known as FEDERAL-MOGUL ASSEMBLED CAMSHAFTS, INC. was formed in late 1996 when NPR tied up with the U.S. subsidiary of a British automotive parts manufacturer that later was acquired by Southfield, Michigan- headquartered Federal-Mogul.
Three-year-old F.T. PRECISION INC., a supplier of parts to HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s engine factory in Anna, Ohio, is undergoing a $13.3 million expansion. The Fredericktown, Ohio joint venture between Honda and bearing manufacturer TANAKA PRECISION INDUSTRY CO., LTD. (65 percent) already has used part of this money to launch production of outboard retainers at the rate of nearly 1.1 million units a year. The rest will be used to start making a specialized roller bearing. Production of that component will begin in March 2000, heading toward an annual volume of almost 3.2 million units.
At a cost of roughly $9.5 million, TOKAI RIKA CO., LTD. will add a facility to make steering locks at its TAC MANUFACTURING, INC. subsidiary in Jackson, Michigan. Production is scheduled to begin in June 2001. The new plant will have the capacity to turn out 45,000 steering locks a month. These products, which will be made from lighter-weight magnesium rather than the traditional zinc, will be shipped to TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s Georgetown, Kentucky complex and to Fremont, California-based NEW UNITED MOTOR MANUFACTURING INC., Toyota's equally owned venture with GENERAL MOTORS CORP. In 2005, Tokai Rika projects, output of steering locks will total $23.8 million. In operation since 1992, TAC now makes steering wheels, airbag assemblies and shift levers.
TOYO RADIATOR CO., LTD.'s decision earlier this year to gamble $10 million on a plant to make radiators and oil coolers for cars and light trucks (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 11) even though it had no customers lined up has paid off. GENERAL MOTORS CORP. has awarded a contract to Toyo Radiator subsidiary COPAR INC. of Hopkinsville, Kentucky for radiators and oil coolers for some GM minivans. Shipments will start in the summer of 2000. The new Copar plant initially will have the annual capacity to build parts for 300,000 vehicles.
Going out ahead of its bigger domestic rivals, JAPAN AIR SYSTEM CO., LTD. awarded Pratt & Whitney Engine Services a 10-year, nearly $150 million contract to provide overhaul work and maintenance for its fleet of JT8D-200-powered MD-80 aircraft. The deal covers 63 Pratt & Whitney-built engines. All of the service will be performed at the UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP. company's Columbus Engine Center in Georgia, which is dedicated to the very large population of JT8D engines installed on commercial aircraft. The same team of people at the center will work on all the JAS engines. Pratt & Whitney also will assign staff to the number-three Japanese airline's base in Tokyo.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
What is claimed to be the first chemical admixture to reduce the drying shrinkage of concrete and the potential for subsequent cracking is available exclusively in North America from Cleveland's MASTER BUILDERS, INC. The low-viscosity, water-soluble liquid admixture, TETRAGUARD AS20, was developed by one of the companies that merged to form TAIHEIYO CEMENT CORP. In use in Japan and elsewhere in Asia for nearly 15 years, TETRAGUARD AS20 has a proven track record of reducing concrete shrinkage by as much as 80 percent at 28 days and up to 50 percent at a year and beyond. Taiheiyo Cement believes that North American sales of TETRAGUARD AS20 could equal those in Japan in 2002, or about 550 tons a year. Japan's largest cement producer hopes to expand its admixture business in the United States through the tie-up with Master Builders, which specializes in construction chemicals.
ITOCHU CORP. has a 10-year contract to ship 330,600 tons of steel slag annually to American cement producers. They will mix this substitute for limestone with cement for use in such bulkhead projects as dams and ports. Steel slag, a by-product of the steelmaking process, has two major advantages over limestone. First, it is environmentally friendly. Limestone emits carbon dioxide when heated at the extremely high temperatures required for mixing with cement. Second, steel slag costs about half of what limestone does. The steel slag that Itochu exports to the United States will come from NIPPON STEEL CORP. mills.
The 15-year North American marketing arrangement between FUJIMI INC., a major supplier of abrasives and slurries (polishing liquids), and SPEEDFAM-IPEC, INC., a Chandler, Arizona maker of chemical mechanical planarization systems for the semiconductor industry, has ended. SpeedFam-IPEC sold its half interest in abrasive and slurry distributor FUJIMI CORP. of Elmhurst, Illinois to its partner for $9.8 million. The ownership change was engineered to help Fujimi and SpeedFam-IPEC alike focus on their core businesses.
Although it is the largest cosmetics manufacturer in Japan and fourth in the world, SHISEIDO CO., LTD. still is trying to find the right formula for ending its status as an also-ran to such industry giants as ESTEE LAUDER COS. INC. and France's L'OREAL S.A. in the American market. Availability is not the main problem since Shiseido products are sold in some 850 department stores and specialty shops in the United States. Inadequate brand recognition is a far bigger marketing obstacle. In an effort to overcome that stumbling block, Shiseido is experimenting with beauty "service centers." These Shiseido Studios offer customers free makeup. The first American one will be located in New York City's Soho neighborhood. As a complement to this strategy, Shiseido soon will introduce a line of upscale skin-care products called Cie de Peau Beaute. It also is weighing the sale of another skin-care line, Qiora. Both of these lines are sold in Japan.
The company that bills itself as Japan's largest mail-order cosmetics and health-food manufacturer and marketer has introduced its first two products to the American market. Through its Irvine, California subsidiary, FANCL COSMETICS is marketing a line of skin- care products that is completely free of additives and preservatives. Adding to their appeal, the Yokohama firm's cosmetics are packaged in small, hermetically sealed, freshness-dated bottles that contain a two- to three-week supply. Fancl's 28-month-old marketing unit also is offering a powdered green tea in single-serve packets. Both product lines are sold exclusively by mail order or at the company's Web site.
Already the largest single-brand advertising agency anywhere, DENTSU INC. is poised to become the top shareholder in a soon-to-be-formed global advertising and diversified marketing services company that will rank as one of the biggest in the world. This firm, to be headquartered in Chicago, will result from the merger of The Leo Group, which includes among its holdings LEO BURNETT CO., and The MacManus Group, the New York City- based holding company for a number of equally well-known ad agencies. The new holding company will have annual revenues in excess of $1.7 billion, 500 operating units in 90 countries and 16,000 employees. Billings are expected to be split evenly between the United States and other markets and between advertising and diversified marketing services. After the merger, Dentsu will take a stake of approximately 20 percent in the new company, which will be the Japanese firm's major partner in serving clients outside of Asia. Dentsu's involvement is an outgrowth of negotiations it initiated late in 1998 with Burnett about an alliance that would help to build business in the United States and Europe.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a sign that regulatory reform slowly is changing the competitive landscape for big American pharmaceutical companies, BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO. will close its research facility in Aikawa, Kanagawa prefecture by the end of 1999. The center, which employs 40 people, conducts early-phase clinical testing and compiles other information for products that BMS hopes to develop for introduction in Japan. However, now that the Ministry of Health and Welfare is more willing to accept the results of clinical trials generated overseas when companies submit new drug applications, the BMS facility has become superfluous. Should the pharmaceutical company need in-country clinical data in the future, it will outsource this work. Most of the staff at the research institute will be transferred to BMS's headquarters in Tokyo.
In another indication that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry believes that Japan's market environment is changing, ELAN PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. of South San Francisco, California has outlined plans to launch sales there. The firm, the drug division of Ireland's ELAN CORP., PLC, a big drug-delivery company, already has established a subsidiary in Tokyo and is in negotiations with prospective domestic partners. Elan has two candidates for clinical development in Japan. One is ziconotide, a novel N-type neuronal calcium channel blocker. Administered directly into the spinal cord, it has shown promise in clinical studies of significantly reducing chronic, intractable pain in patients for whom morphine-type therapies have failed. The other product is NeuroBloc, a botulinum toxin type B injectable solution for the treatment of the painful neurological condition known as cervical dystonia, which generally affects the muscles of the neck and the shoulders.
AFFYMETRIX, INC. the developer of the GeneChip system for acquiring, analyzing and managing complex genetic information to enhance the diagnosis and the treatment of disease has given SANKYO CO., LTD. a broad license to its technology. The subsidiary of AMERSHAM PHARMACIA BIOTECH CORP., the Santa Clara, California company's distribution partner, arranged the deal. Sankyo is the first Japanese drug firm to be able to tap on a widespread, preferential basis Affymetrix's standard and custom GeneChip arrays, instrumentation and software to monitor gene expression. Last summer, TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. gained more limited access to the GeneChip platform (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 13).
Japanese and other multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies interested in outsourcing their international product development work to a full-service contract research organization have a new option. FAMILY HEALTH INTERNATIONAL, a not-for-profit clinical research and technical assistance organization, and E.P.S. CO., LTD., which also is in the clinical research services business, have tied up. After establishing common operating procedures and sharing technologies to maximize service and clinical data quality, the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina FHI and its Tokyo-based partner will start comarketing their service. E.P.S. will conduct all clinical studies in Japan, while FHI will handle all trials in North America and elsewhere outside Japan. Midsize trader KASHO CO., LTD. of Tokyo will help to coordinate activities between the two companies.
Broadening its push into Japan, nutritional supplement supplier REXALL SUNDOWN, INC. has formed a development and marketing alliance with SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. Under it, the Sundown Vitamins Division of the Boca Raton, Florida company will work with Japan's largest maker of dairy products to come up with vitamins and other supplements for the local market. These will be sold through Snow Brand's extensive distribution system. The first product could be on the market as soon as March 2000. Rexall Sundown previously teamed up with ROHTO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 13).
NUTRITION FOR LIFE INTERNATIONAL, INC., a direct seller of nutritional supplements and other consumer goods, opened a support subsidiary in preparation for launching sales of its products through a network of independent distributors. The Houston company will ship merchandise directly to its distributors, who will be linked to headquarters through a state-of-the-art computer system.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
In what they say is a win-win deal for themselves and for major Japanese corporations, COMPUTER SCIENCES CORP. and HITACHI, LTD. have formed an alliance to offer current and future customers of the diversified electronics company cutting-edge information technology systems and services in Japan. The goal of the new partners is to help Japanese businesses compete more effectively internationally by globalizing their IT systems. They expect to work most closely with the big financial services providers that result from the wave of mergers announced in recent months. Hitachi executives said that the firm, which has considerable systems integration expertise and has invested heavily in the development of state-of-the-art hardware and software technologies, decided to collaborate with El Segundo, California-based CSC, the number-three computer services company in the United States, in order to provide its customers more advanced IT services faster. CSC already operates in Japan. Its main clients reportedly are Japanese insurers.
Like other American computer companies, APPLE COMPUTER, INC. has been experimenting with different marketing approaches. Its latest initiative is the Apple Store in Store concept. In cooperation with 11 electronics volume retailers, the recently high-flying Apple will foot the cost of opening areas in 34 of their stores that will carry an array of Apple computers, peripherals and software. Among the merchandisers participating in the Apple Store in Store plan are DEODEO CORP. and SOFMAP CO., LTD.
Buttressing its retail channel strategy and DirectPlus on-line and telephone sales network (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, pp. 14-15), COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary began a commission-based sales agent system. Under the DirectPlus Agent program, the company hopes to line up roughly 100 agents from the ranks of systems integrators, software vendors and other IT businesses to represent Compaq products. The big computer maker handles marketing and order fulfillment directly.
GATEWAY, INC.'s sales operation hopes to tap into the expanding SOHO (small office/home office) market by offering hardware leases tailored to the requirements of these businesses. In cooperation with equipment leasing and rental affiliates of BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD., the company has streamlined the application and approval processes to make leasing more attractive to this customer base. Gateway expects approximately 80 percent of the contracts to be valued at less than $47,600.
A new generation of the Compaq AlphaServer SC Series Supercomputer will ship to scientific, industrial and commercial users in Japan in the first quarter of 2000. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. claims for the line, which is built around the latest iteration of the powerful Alpha 21264 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) chip, an unprecedented combination of power, scalability and affordability. A system configured with 16 processors, 16 symmetric multiprocessing nodes and 16 MB of internal memory will lease for $65,700 a month. The AlphaServer SC Series Supercomputer runs Compaq's Tru64 Unix operating system and comes with its cluster file system software.
Before then, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary will ship the entry-level Compaq AlphaServer DS20E. The space-saving single- or dual-processor system, targeted at such customers as Internet services providers and communications companies, initially will sport a 500-MHz Alpha 21264 chip, but the 667-MHz version of this engine will be available in early 2000. Compaq claims that the AlphaServer DS20E outperforms anything in its class, thanks to the marriage of the latest in high-bandwidth memory know- how and the Alpha processor, 64-bit very large memory and advanced clustering technology. It also notes that despite a starting price of just $21,400, the system offers features typically found on larger systems, including hot-swap drives, fans and power supplies and remote system management. The AlphaServer DS20E supports the Tru64 Unix, Compaq OpenVMS and Linux operating systems.
The "carrier-grade" computer systems required by communications services providers, ISPs and network equipment providers are one recent market focus of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. Its Netra t servers are the vehicles for bridging the communications and computing worlds. In Japan, Sun is marketing the Netra t 1400. On the computing side, the system supports up to four UltraSPARC-II processors and delivers high-speed memory, PCI (peripheral component interconnect) connectivity, Ultra SCSI disk and high-speed interconnects. At the same time, the Netra t 1400 fits into standard 19- inch communications racks. It also provides communications alarms, lights-out management capabilities and optional AC/DC power supplies. Pricing begins at $36,600.
SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary also is fortifying its position in the market for Unix workgroup servers with the release of the small-footprint Sun Enterprise 220R and 420R. Both products deliver multiprocessing power, Ultra SCSI disks and PCI connectivity in a highly modular, four-rack-unit design. The Sun Enterprise 220R, which lists for $25,200 and up, supports one or two 450-MHz UltraSPARC-II processors and provides 2 GB of memory, while the $30,500-plus Sun Enterprise 420R can handle up to four 450-MHz Ultra SPARC-II chips and comes standard with 4 GB of memory.
The line of Unix workstations from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. has a new high end, one able to handle the most demanding graphics applications. The Ultra 80 also is the company's only such product available in uniprocessor, dual-processor and quad- processor configurations. Among other touted features is the highest memory bandwidth of any Sun workstation hardware. The Ultra 80 ranges in price from $3,800 for a system with a single 450-MHz UltraSPARC-II chip to $64,800 for a workstation that harnesses the power of four of these processors.
Seeing opportunities in the growth of Windows NT-based digital video production, which includes companies creating content for commercials, TV programs, live broadcasts, interactive multimedia and the Web, INTERGRAPH CORP.'s subsidiary released a fully integrated turnkey desktop video system. At the heart of the video editing and finishing system is the Huntsville, Alabama company's TDZ 2000 GT1 ViZual Workstation, which taps the power of a pair of 550-MHz Pentium III processors and provides the throughput for high-bandwidth video applications as well as the memory needed for both off-line and on-line work. To this platform, Intergraph added edit* plus 5.0 nonlinear editing software from AUTODESK, INC.'s Discreet affiliate and MATROX ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS, LTD.'s DigiSuite real-time video hardware and software tools. For an introductory period, Intergraph priced its system at $37,900, or about 30 percent less than the cost of competing turnkey video systems.
The SP750 Professional Workstation is better able than ever to handle jobs like simulation, design and analysis, and modeling and virtual prototyping that previously were assigned to Unix workstations, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. argues. This minitower system now can draw on the power of dual 733-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors. At the same time, potential bandwidth constraints are addressed through the Intel 840 chipset with its 133- MHz front-side bus, dual memory channels, dual-peer PCI buses and 64-bit PCI connectivity. The SP750 also provides power graphics users with anywhere from 128 MB to 2 GB of extremely fast ECC DRAM memory and a choice of a high-performance 9.1- GB or 18.2-GB Ultra3 SCSI hard drive operating at 10,000 RPM. Included as well in the base price of $8,900 is any one of a long list of graphics controllers. .....For companies that do not require all the firepower of the SP750, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has new versions of the AP240 Deskpro Workstation. These machines use a single 600EB-MHz, 700-MHz or 733-MHz Pentium III processor with a 133-MHz front- side bus. They also feature the new Intel i820 chipset to maximize the high-speed system memory, which is expandable from 128 MB to 512 MB. Storage on the AP240 now takes the form of a 9-GB Wide Ultra2 SCSI hard drive with 10,000-RPM capability. The graphics controller is either the Matrox Millennium G400 or the ELSA Synergy II. With AP standing for affordable performance, Compaq priced the base configurations from under $3,500 (the 600EB-MHz model) to $4,400 for a system employing a 733-MHz chip.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s latest data center-targeted product is the ProLiant 6400R server. The rack-mountable system is designed to address the space constraints of these environments while giving customers the computing power and performance they need to run demanding business applications, implement clustering solutions or host active intranet, Internet and e-commerce sites. The ProLiant 6400R can support up to four Pentium III Xeon processors and provides as much as 2 GB of memory and 72.8 GB of internal storage. Pricing begins at $14,800.
New as well to the Japanese market from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. is what the company calls the easiest and most affordable clustering solution. Suited for such needs as remote systems requiring unattended high availability or branch office industry applications, the ProLiant CL1850 consists of two Compaq server nodes and shared storage prepackaged in a space-efficient cabinet. Each of the servers can support one or two 550- MHz Pentium III processors. As much as 16 GB of system-enhancing memory per server is available, as is a maximum of 252 GB of high-perform-ance storage. The basic configuration of the ProLiant CL1850 costs $21,000.
The era of the 700-MHz Pentium III processor has arrived in the PC server market and, once again, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary was ahead of its rivals in introducing the latest in processor technology. Its vehicle was the PowerEdge 4300 server for networked midsize and large businesses. Able to support two of the fast Pentium IIIs, the PowerEdge 4300 features redundant, hot pluggable components to provide uninterrupted operations. High availability is ensured as well by anywhere from 128 MB to 2 GB of ECC SDRAM memory and support for RAID (redundant array of independent disks) controllers. The PowerEdge 4300 also provides ample storage through 9-GB, 18-GB and 36-GB Ultra2/LVD SCSI hard drives spinning at 7,200 RPM or 10,000 RPM. Dell's marketing unit priced the base configuration of the new PowerEdge 4300 at $4,800.
DELL COMPUTER CORP. also beefed up the power and the system bandwidth of its OptiPlex GX110 line of networked desktop machines for midsize and bigger companies by reengineering them to support Pentium III processors with 133-MHz front-side buses running at 533 MHz, 600 MHz, 667 MHz or 733 MHz. The aggressively priced family starts at $1,400 for a PC with a 533-MHz Pentium III or at $2,300 for one with a 733-MHz part. Those lists include 64 MB of SDRAM memory, expandable to 512 MB, plus a 6.4- GB hard drive. Other storage options are 13.6-GB or 15-GB 5,400-RPM drives or 10-GB or 20-GB 7,200-RPM drives.
The IBM PC 300PL, IBM JAPAN LTD.'s desktop series for the mainstream corporate market, is the first PC to feature a built-in security chip. That extra appears on the model 6565. It is powered by a 667-MHz Pentium III processor with a 133-MHz front-side bus and comes with 64 MB of ECC SDRAM memory and a 13.5-GB hard drive. The only option on the well-equipped model 6565 is the operating system. One running Windows 98 Second Edition costs $3,300, while the Windows NT 4.0-based version lists for $3,500.
Slim and trim all-in-one desktop designs are a major PC market trend in Japan, where space-constrained offices and homes are the norm. Catering to this demand, GATEWAY, INC.'s marketing unit released the second-generation Profile 2. Both of the line's models, which have no desktop or tower case, have a tiltable 15.1-inch XGA active-matrix TFT color display, 64 MB of system memory, Intel three-dimensional graphics and four USB ports for peripherals. Other specifications differ, though. The $1,900 LE model uses a 433-MHz Celeron processor and has a 6.8-GB hard drive and a 24X CD-ROM drive. About $2,400 buys the XL model with its 500-MHz Celeron chip, 20-GB hard drive and 6X DVD-ROM drive.
The jump in memory prices last fall forced DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary to abandon the under ¥100,000 PC market. However, lower prices for Celeron processors enabled the company to get its Japan-only Dimension J400C back under this price point. Aimed at price-sensitive SOHO buyers, this system uses a 400-MHz Celeron processor and provides 64 MB of SDRAM and 4.3 GB of storage. Without a monitor, it lists for $825. Adding a 15-inch CRT display as well as a sound card and a modem raises the price to $950.
In an otherwise off month for the release of new notebook computers, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s local operation added three models to its business-use Latitude line, all of which include both a touch pad and a track stick for greater convenience. The Latitude CPxH500GT, targeted at true road warriors, features a 500-MHz mobile Pentium III processor and a 14.1-inch active-matrix TFT color display. It starts at $3,000-plus. The base configuration of the Latitude CPtV400ST with its 400-MHz Celeron processor and 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT color screen goes for about $1,000 less.
Japan historically has been a tough place for outside suppliers of handheld computers because of the entrenched position of SHARP CORP.'s Zaurus in the market for personal digital assistants or personal organizers. That has not dissuaded HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. from introducing several of its parent's Jornada products. The latest machine, however, is more like a mininotebook than a PDA. The Windows CE-operating HP Jornada 690 not only uses a 133-MHz version of the 32-bit Hitachi SH3 processor and provides 32 MB of SDRAM memory, but it also has a 6.5-inch color display with touch- screen capabilities and a three-fourths-size keyboard. Equally distinguishing, the 1.1-pound system sports a high-performance internal modem and three ports plus two card slots.
In the near term, IBM JAPAN LTD. and OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. will begin testing at customer sites a "wearable" computer that they codeveloped under a September 1998 agreement. Despite its tiny size the device is only slightly bigger than a Walkman the partners envision it as a stand-alone Windows 95 or Window 98 computer rather than a PDA. The system runs off a Pentium MMX processor and includes 64 MB of internal memory, audio and graphics capabilities, and a USB port. Even more notable, it incorporates INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s matchbook-size 340-MB microdrive and a head-mounted color display developed by Olympus that is said to provide a resolution similar to viewing a 10-inch PC monitor from about a foot away. Despite the field trials, the partners have not yet decided whether to commercialize the device.
At the same time that it released its Netra t carrier-grade servers, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary introduced a low-profile storage unit for these systems as well as for any other rack-mounted server running the Solaris operating system. Designed to allow services providers to add storage incrementally in their usually cramped quarters, the Netra st D130 houses up to three hot-swappable 10,000-RPM disk drives with a total storage capacity of 54 GB in an enclosure only one rack-unit high. Moreover, the drives can be connected directly to the Ultra SCSI port that is standard on all Sun servers. The company priced the Netra st D130 at $11,200.
The challenge of network file storage increases virtually every day for big corporations. UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary sees in this problem a sales opportunity for its FS1006 file server series. Not unlike marketers of competing network file servers, Unisys maintains that its dedicated products provide the failure-proof access to data that big businesses demand. Equally important, the FS1006 line meets their requirements for scalability up to 1.1 terabytes. Moreover, it supports mixed Windows NT and Unix environments. Another key attribute of the FS1006, which lists for $123,800 and up, is that access to the file server and the storage is over a network, including Gigabit Ethernet.
Market newcomer GENROCO, INC. believes that corporate Japan soon will need a next- generation storage area network solution in the form of its Gigabyte System Network product family. This line includes an eight-port, full bridging switch, a Gigabit Ethernet network router, a storage array controller and software based on a new, very-high- bandwidth network protocol known as Schedule Transfer. The Slinger, Wisconsin company boldly says that its GSN products are the foundation for the highest-bandwidth, lowest- latency storage and networking topology available today. More importantly, it adds, they enable highly scalable SANs across numerous disparate network technologies. TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. has the job of translating GENROCO's claims into sales.
According to DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary, the latest additions to its PowerVault family will allow storage area networks to be constructed at about half the cost as before. The PowerVault 51F Fibre Channel switch can be configured with as many as eight universal ports for connecting servers and tape drives to the SAN fabric. Together with the simultaneously released PowerVault QLA2200F/2000 host bus adapter, midsize and big companies can build SANs with as much as 8.4 terabytes of capacity. The switch is priced from $11,000, while the adapter starts at $1,400.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. penciled in first-year sales of 400 HP SureStore 125ex jukeboxes. This target is based in part on the fact that the latest addition to this HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. storage family, which uses 5.2-GB rewritable magneto- optical media cartridges, gives smaller organizations 50 percent more capacity than the 80ex model for the same price. The HP SureStore 125ex comes with 24 slots and, therefore, offers a total capacity of 124.8 GB of data. HP Japan priced the new jukebox at $13,400 for a single 5.2-GB cartridge and at $18,800 for two.
Because their gear is complementary, the subsidiaries of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORP. have decided to cooperate in the field of storage products in order to boost the sales of both. The marketing arm of Louisville, Colorado-based Storage Technology will include among its offerings Compaq's disk array subsystems. Conversely, the computer company will handle the big network storage manufacturer's open-enterprise tape library systems.
PC manufacturers in Japan are testing a new line of extremely high-density, high- performance 3.5-inch hard drives from QUANTUM CORP. The Ultra SCSI Atlas V features a disk rotational speed of 7,200 RPM rather than the 5,400 RPM more typically found in desktop machines and provides a minimum of 9 GB of storage for as little as $400. Quantum's subsidiary plans to begin commercial shipments in the spring of 2000.
EXABYTE CORP. lined up additional supplies of AVE (advanced metal evaporated) media tapes for its MammothTape backup tape drives. The Boulder, Colorado company contracted with TDK CORP. to make seven-micron 170-meter, 125-meter and 45-meter AME media tapes for its Mammoth, Mammoth-LT and recently announced Mammoth-2 tape drives as well as for Exabyte's autoloaders and tape libraries. AVE technology is said to give media higher capacity and superior signal strength while reducing the chance of read/write errors.
Continuing to push the resolution boundaries of color TFT LCD displays, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced a 20.8-inch module with nearly 3.15 million pixels, arrayed as 2048 x 1536 pixels. That is the new QXGA (quadruple XGA) graphics specification. The ITQX20, which is housed in a compact package and features a viewing angle as wide as 170 degrees, is aimed at such applications as document creation and processing, image processing and medical imagery. Volume production of the extremely high-resolution panel will start in the first half of 2000 at one of affiliate DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s plants. It will be fabricated alongside a very high-resolution 15-inch panel that IBM Japan also helped to develop (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 19).
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. also sees an expanding market in Japan for high- resolution, space-sav-ing TFT LCD monitors. Its subsidiary has launched sales of the $4,400 TFT7000 color flat-panel display. With a diagonal viewing area of 17 inches, the display provides a super XGA resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels and a 160-degree viewing angle.
A fourth Japanese company has acquired a license for EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s organic electroluminescence know-how. NIPPON SEIKI CO., LTD. will use the new type of flat- panel display technology for motor vehicle instrumentation applications. Kodak claims a number of advantages for its OEL technology over today's LCD technology, including lower power consumption, a faster response time, higher brightness levels in a variety of lighting conditions, an unlimited viewing angle and a thinner design. Nippon Seiki, which now is planning to start production of OEL-based displays for instrument panels in mid-2002, has the right under the agreement to buy OEL materials from Kodak. The company's other Japanese licensees are PIONEER CORP., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TDK CORP. Kodak and Sanyo, which also is a development partner, recently announced the first commercially viable OEL display (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 18).
Flight simulation game enthusiasts have two new joysticks from Fremont, California's LOGITECH, INC. that offer improved operability. The $75 WingMan Extreme Digital 3D is designed for advanced players, while the WingMan Attack, which is priced around $40, is targeted at beginners or occasional players.
HITACHI, LTD. has chosen the Peerless ImageWorks controller for its next generation of SL color printer engines. Developer PEERLESS SYSTEMS CORP. of El Segundo, California notes that its design is scalable and flexible as well as easy to customize to support families of printing products. A number of OEMs have adopted Hitachi's current SL-1 color printer engine for their office color printers.
New Versa FX notebook computers from NEC CORP. will incorporate graphics subsystems from SILICON MOTION, INC.'s Lynx family. The model for the Japanese and European markets, which sports a 333-MHz Celeron processor, will use the LynxEM, while the Pentium III-equipped Versa FX for American business users will integrate the LynxEM4. The two controllers provide the same functionality, but the LynxEM4 has more internal memory for faster, higher-bandwidth graphics applications. San Jose, California- based Silicon Motion says that a major selling point of its controllers is their pin compatibility, which facilitates integration into multiple designs for different markets.
At the same time, NEC CORP. is bundling its Japan-only DV Editor, which consists of an IEEE 1394 board or card and software for digital video processing, with SONIC SOLUTIONS' DVDit! LE DVD authoring software. The result, the Novato, California supplier says, is a complete, easy-to-use and affordable digital video production and DVD authoring system for PC users.
The first company to employ SPATIALIZER AUDIO LABORATORIES, INC.'s new 3D stereo technology, represented by the AN7399 chip, is MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. Its product is a high-resolution, 15-inch color TFT LCD monitor/television that is only slightly more than an inch thick. This deal marks the first time that MELCO has licensed Spatializer's audio technology, although the Woodland Hills, California company counts most of Japan's other big-name electronics manufacturers among its licensees.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
By April 2000 at the latest, TYCO INTERNATIONAL LTD. will consolidate the management side of the Japanese operations of leading connector manufacturer AMP INC. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Menlo Park, California-based RAYCHEM CORP., a major maker of fuses. The conglomerate acquired both of these companies earlier in 1999. Along with the subsidiary of relay producer ORIGINAL ELECTROMECHANICAL CO., they will be part of the Tyco Electronics Group and will go under that name. Together, the three companies have annual sales in Japan of some $952.4 million. Among the activities that will be consolidated to improve efficiency are administration, information systems, finance, distribution and materials procurement. The new Tyco Electronics subsidiary will be located in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture, where the local units of AMP and Raychem are based.
The latest addition to the line of high-density power components marketed by VICOR CORP.'s subsidiary is a second-generation series of DC/DC converter modules with a 300-volt input. Like the Andover, Massachusetts manufacturer's other converter families, these products are available in micro, mini and maxi packages. Those three sizes span 24 models and output voltages ranging from 2 volts to 48 volts. Pricing of the new converter modules runs from $140 to $295.
Extending their relationship, ENERGY CONVERSION DEVICES, INC. and subsidiary OVONIC BATTERY CO. awarded TOSHIBA BATTERY CO., LTD. a nonexclusive license to their cylindrically wound nickel metal hydride battery technology for use in hybrid electric vehicles. The deal, which requires various lump sum payments to Troy, Michigan- based OBC as well as royalties on sales of licensed products, gives Toshiba Battery the right to manufacture cylindrically wound NiMH batteries in Japan and to sell them worldwide subject to certain restrictions. While hybrid electric vehicles which use batteries for electrically driven propulsion along with an internal combustion engine, a fuel cell or some other source of power are expected to be the main application for the licensed technology, Toshiba Battery can employ it in such special-purpose, battery-driven vehicles as motorized wheelchairs and golf carts. Several Japanese companies have licensed Ovonic Battery's NiMH battery know-how and taken a minority position in the firm, including HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD., SANOH INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Any number of examples can be marshaled to demonstrate the proposition that American financial services providers believe that there is money to be made in Japan. One of the latest is a rash of investment funds, set up both to bankroll start-ups and to finance mergers and acquisitions against the backdrop of corporate restructuring. The latter possibility has attracted the attention of GE CAPITAL CORP., which already has a big, diversified portfolio of Japanese financial services companies. Along with DAIWA SECURITIES SB CAPITAL MARKETS CO., LTD. and trader SUMITOMO CORP., the world's largest nonbank financial institution is talking about setting up a nearly $2.9 billion M&A fund. About one-third of this amount would be raised from foreign and domestic institutional investors. The balance would be borrowed against the assets of the acquired companies. The prospective Japanese partners would be in charge of scouting out M&A candidates, while GE Capital would supply its extensive M&A expertise. Both sides would tap their sources to raise the money. .....MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO. also is said to be weighing the possibility of moving into Japan's M&A business, backed mainly by American investors. Tentative plans call for the investment bank/brokerage house to spread upward of $95.2 million among two or three good-size companies by the end of March 2001 and in excess of $9.5 million on small firms with favorable growth prospects.
Japanese businesses looking for buyers or seeking advice on restructuring and other financial initiatives have a new source of help. New York City's LAZARD FRERE & CO. and DAIWA SECURITIES SB CAPITAL MARKETS CO., LTD. have teamed up to provide a full array of financial advisory services as well as to handle M&As. The two investment banks also stand ready to assist non-Japanese clients with any Japan-related transactions.
SOFTBANK CORP. has built a reputation as the savviest Japanese investor in Internet- related start-ups, committing funds to dozens of such American companies and partnering with many of them to bring their expertise to Japan. It now has decided that the time soon will be right to make money off of two of its financial services joint ventures. In the second quarter of 2000, MORNINGSTAR JAPAN K.K., a source of independent information on the performance of mutual funds, will go public on Japan's over-the-counter market, followed the next quarter by on-line broker E*TRADE JAPAN K.K.'s initial public offering. DAIWA SECURITIES GROUP INC. will be the lead manager for the Morningstar Japan IPO, while NOMURA SECURITIES CO., LTD. will perform this function for E*TRADE Japan. Morningstar Japan was formed in the summer of 1998 by MORNINGSTAR, INC. (45 percent) and Softbank (55 percent). The Japanese company recently made a sizable investment in the Chicago firm (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 9). E*TRADE Japan, which just launched its financial services Web site (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 21), was set up at the same time. It is 42 percent owned by E*TRADE GROUP, INC. of Menlo Park, California.
Another SOFTBANK CORP.-affiliated on-line financial services company, E+ADVISOR CO., LTD., will soon add ANDERSEN CONSULTING LLP as a minority investor. E+Advisor was established last June by Softbank's consumer finance subsidiary (67 percent), Hartford, Connecticut-based DIRECTADVICE.COM CORP. (22 percent) and a group of other investors, including MICROSOFT CORP., to provide personalized financial planning advice over the Internet (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 25). Andersen Consulting is helping E+Advisor get its business off the ground.
Clients of DLJDIRECT SFG SECURITIES INC.'s on-line brokerage services now can have access to stock analyses prepared by Manhattan's FIRST CALL CORP. for just $1.90 a month. DLJDIRECT INC. and its Japanese partners (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 18) see this information, previously available only to institutional investors in Japan, as a tool to win accounts. The competition for investors interested in trading over the Internet has become intense since the October 1 deregulation of brokerage commissions and the proliferation of on-line brokerage businesses. .....In another move to attract customers, DLJDIRECT SFG SECURITIES INC. will set up a system early in 2000 that will enable its clients to get professional investment advice. They will have a choice of more than 3,000 financial planners. Once an adviser is selected, most of the interaction will occur over the Internet.
The nationalization of LONG-TERM CREDIT BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. indirectly is helping GE CAPITAL CORP. expand its already-considerable consumer finance business in Japan. Through a third-party share allocation, GE Capital will acquire for $13.1 million a 10 percent stake in LIFE CO., LTD. and become the Hiroshima-headquartered firm's top shareholder. One of Japan's six largest consumer credit companies, Life is affiliated with LTCB, an association that has made it hard for the company to raise money. GE Capital also will acquire bonds with equity warrants. If it exercises the right to purchase additional shares through this means, the financial services giant will own 18 percent of Life, which has 2,700 employees and 62 branch offices across the country. Among other aspects of their wide-ranging agreement, GE Capital will establish a $952.4 million credit line for Life. In addition, the American company will take over Life's consumer finance operations. The deal is scheduled to close in March 2000. GE Capital's lineup of Japanese consumer finance companies, assembled over the last five years, includes LAKE CO., LTD., which ranked as the country's fifth-largest direct consumer lender at the time the acquisition was finalized in November 1998.
Credit cards are seen as one as the major growth opportunities in Japan's consumer finance market. GE CAPITAL CORP.'s various consumer finance affiliates already are working to gain a bigger share of this business. So is rival CITIGROUP INC. It could take a huge step toward that goal if it completes the reported negotiations to reacquire DINERS CLUB OF JAPAN INC. from current owners FUJI BANK, LTD. and affiliates (60 percent) and JAPAN TRAVEL BUREAU, INC. (40 percent). CITIBANK N.A. sold the credit-card issuer, which now has about 840,000 members, in 1990 when it ran into financial problems. Industry sources say that rebuying Diners Japan will cost Citigroup about $381 million.
One of CITIGROUP INC.'s other strategies for expanding its business in Japan is to work with regional banks. SHIZUOKA BANK, LTD. seems particularly receptive to this idea, seeing in the marketing of Citigroup financial products a way to save money while offering clients services of interest to them. The two already issue a joint bank card (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 18). Now, they plan to move into the private banking field. Starting sometime in 2000, Citigroup will market its products directly to Shizuoka Bank's wealthier clients as well as through staff of the regional bank who have been trained by the financial services giant. Either way, the Shizuoka prefecture bank will receive a commission on the products sold.
The problems that HEIWA LIFE INSURANCE CO., LTD. has experienced recently in expanding policy revenues have given AETNA INTERNATIONAL INC. the chance to gain an instant nationwide marketing network in Japan's financial services market, particularly the health and life insurance parts of the business, the firm's fortes. Effective immediately, Aetna International will purchase 33 percent of Heiwa Life's outstanding shares for approximately $20 million. Then, sometime in the first quarter of 2000, the Hartford, Connecticut-headquartered company will launch a tender offer for the remaining shares, raising the cost of the prospective transaction to an estimated $60 million. Heiwa Life is one of the smaller players in the world's biggest life insurance market. It ranks 20th in terms of assets and 24th based on premium income. More importantly from Aetna's perspective, though, Heiwa Life has 31 branches and 145 offices across the country, out of which 1,400 sales representatives work. The company also has some 275 agents. GE CAPITAL CORP. used a somewhat similar strategy in 1998 to achieve a national presence in Japan's huge life insurance market.
In quick order, UNUM JAPAN ACCIDENT INSURANCE CO., LTD. has substantially broadened the marketing channels for its mainstay long-term disability policies (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 21). The products of Portland, Maine- based UNUM CORP. will be available on a NISSHO IWAI CORP. Web site that sells insurance as well as through AOL JAPAN INC. In addition, ORIX CORP., Japan's top leasing company, and midsize brokerage house MATSUI SECURITIES CO., LTD. will include Unum's policies in their portfolios of financial services products.
By mid-2000, PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE CO. OF AMERICA's 1,600 or so agents in Japan will have round-the-clock, real-time access to customer data. That information now is available only on weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Including terminals for the company's agents, the system will cost about $40 million. Prudential also is planning to open a 24-hour call center, but the timing of that move has not been finalized.
INSWEB JAPAN K.K.'s on-line insurance site is live. For now, though, it just offers a range of interactive tools and information on insurance matters. The actual product rollout will occur in the spring of 2000, when InsWeb Japan begins to market automobile insurance from five Japanese companies, including TOKIO MARINE & FIRE INSURANCE CO., LTD., the biggest writer of these policies, and two foreign companies. Ins-Web Japan plans to introduce term life coverage later in 2000. The firm is a joint venture among INSWEB CORP. of Redwood City, California (25 percent), MARSH & MCLENNAN COS., INC. (20 percent), MICROSOFT CORP. (2 percent) and SOFTBANK FINANCE CORP. (53 percent) (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 22).
The 3.5 million subscribers to FUJITSU, LTD.'s @nifty Internet service already have direct access to insurance products and customer services through @nifty insurance. This service, which has real-time, on-line underwriting, payment and policy-issuance capabilities, is offered in cooperation with the Japanese operation of Philadelphia's ACE INA HOLDINGS, INC. For the time being, the site is providing overseas travel accident and golfer policies, but personal accident insurance and other products are expected to be available to @nifty subscribers shortly. ACE INA Holdings acquired CIGNA CORP.'s international and American property and casualty businesses in July 1999.
The imprimatur of MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO. soon will be placed on Japan's asset-backed securities market. According to tentative plans, the investment bank/brokerage house will securitize $190.5 million worth of nonperforming loans held by banks and other financial institutions for sale to foreign and domestic investors. The collateral underlying these securities will be real estate.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
FRESH DEL MONTE PRODUCE, INC., one of the world's largest producers and distributors of fresh fruit, vegetables and other produce, is in the process of expanding its direct marketing capabilities in Japan by more than 50 percent. The Coral Cables, Florida- based company has signed lease agreements with the ports of Yokohama, Kobe, Osaka and Moji, near Kitakyushu, under which they will upgrade and expand their distribution centers as well as build state-of-the-art ripening facilities. Competitor DOLE FOOD CO. also has moved aggressively in recent years to build up infrastructure at various ports to facilitate direct deliveries to retailers.
About 220,000 pounds of premium pork center loins and other processed pork products will be shipped monthly by ELLISON MEAT CO. to restaurants and retailers through NICHIMEN CORP. The trader is the third distribution channel that the Pipestone, Minnesota company, which is owned by a group of family farmers, has established in Japan. It also exports through food processor NICHIREI CORP. and STARZEN CO., LTD., the country's top meat dealer. Big pork processor SWIFT AND CO. collaborates with Ellison on processing.
Cereal is a no-growth business in Japan. Therefore, KELLOGG CO. hopes to expand sales by promoting its line of snack foods. To do that, it has to find an alternative distribution route since AJINOMOTO CO., INC., which has marketed Kellogg's cereal products since 1962, does not handle snack foods. The solution is a tie-up with the subsidiary of WARNER-LAMBERT CO., which, in addition to being a major manufacturer of prescription drugs, makes and markets a variety of consumer goods, including chewing gum. Kellogg snack foods will be available through the Warner-Lambert distribution network in the spring of 2000.
WYETH (JAPAN) CORP. has agreed to sell its infant-formula business to a management buyout fund. The company, a wholly owned unit of AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP., currently ranks fourth in Japan's infant-formula market with about 7 percent of sales. However, this, too, is a business with virtually no expansion prospects. The sale price was not disclosed.
Effective January 1, 2000, the 1 million or so vending machines that COCA-COLA CO.'s huge Japan subsidiary operates will be managed by a single company. The soft drink giant's COCA-COLA NATIONAL VENDING CO. manages most of this equipment now, but about 64,000 vending machines that Coca-Cola acquired at the end of 1998 from FV CORP. still are operated by that firm. It will be merged into Coca-Cola National Vending, which will have approximately 1,100 employees.
Beer, especially foreign brands, is not selling well in Japan. That reality is forcing ANHEUSER-BUSCH COS, INC. to overhaul its marketing strategy. It will dissolve money-losing BUDWEISER JAPAN CO., LTD., which the world's largest brewer formed in 1993 with KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. (10 percent) to make Budweiser in bottles and cans at Kirin's Tochigi prefecture plant and to market these products as well as some Bud in cans imported from the United States. Starting in January 2000, Kirin will produce and distribute Budweiser beer under an exclusive license from Anheuser-Busch. To encourage the Japanese brewer to promote the product, the St. Louis beer giant will split profits equally rather than take the typical bigger cut. Sales of Bud dropped in 1998 to 7 million cases, each containing 24 12-ounce bottles or cans, from 10 million cases in 1997.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
IGA INC., the leading independent grocery store franchiser in the world, opened a subsidiary in Japan to coordinate the operations of affiliated supermarkets in East Asia. The Chicago-headquartered company has been in Japan since 1988 when it formed a venture with ITOCHU CORP. Today, there are some 200 IGA member grocery stores, but the partners want to double that number by the end of 2001. The new subsidiary will oversee the outlets in Japan as well as the ones in South Korea, IGA's next East Asian move, and, in time, in Taiwan and the Philippines. It will adapt to local conditions store management, sales promotion, product display and other programs devised by headquarters, which provides merchandise to member outlets.
By February 2004, JUSCO CO., LTD., the country's number-three supermarket operator, expects to have 30 freestanding stores selling Tommy Hilfiger and Tommy Jeans clothing. Many of these outlets will be located in shopping centers operated by Jusco. The first one is in Jusco's Bay City shopping center in Nagoya. At 1,560 square feet, this store is slightly smaller that the typical 1,775-square-foot shop that the retailer plans to open; however, it carries roughly 1,500 items. Shirts range in price from $70 to $150, while pants go for $70 to $115; sweaters cost anywhere from $95 to $150. If Jusco meets its store-opening target, sales of Tommy Hilfiger apparel could reach $47.6 million in the year through February 2004. Menswear designed by TOMMY HILFIGER USA INC. has been available at in-store shops in Japan since 1993.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
An unnamed Japanese manufacturer of carpets is one of the early buyers of TAPISTRON INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s recently introduced CYP carpet- and rug-making system with its new cut/loop process. The Ringgold, Georgia company's machine, designed to produce carpets and rugs for the high end of the residential and commercial market, works with all types of wool fibers and yields a product that is said to have the look, feel and quality of a handmade material.
With sales predicted at 50 units a year, Japan is seen as a major market for ELECTRO SCIENTIFIC INDUSTRIES, INC.'s Model 5200 Laser uVia Drill. This diode-pumped laser system produces the microvias, or tiny pathways that carry signals from one printed wiring board layer to another, in small-geometry circuit boards and electronic packages. The Model 5200, which is suitable for all materials currently used by the PWB business, can drill more than 20,000 vias per minute in single-layer laminated materials up to 21 x 25 inches on a continuous basis. Portland, Oregon-based ESI gave CANON SALES CO., INC. exclusive marketing rights to the system. The Model 5200 lists for $666,700 in Japan.
As long as the public works construction business in Japan remains good if not strong, SHIN CATERPILLAR MITSUBISHI LTD. apparently has no intention of slowing the introduction of earthmoving equipment for this market. Its latest products are a pair of redesigned large dump trucks, one with a payload capacity of 35.3 tons and the other able to haul 40 tons. New to these trucks is a system that enables them to maintain track on soft ground. The CAT D350EII lists for $652,400, while the CAT D400EII goes for $719,000. Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi is projecting the sale of five of the smaller dump truck in the first year and 15 of the big model.
CONTINENTAL CONTROLS CORP., a big San Diego, California maker of fuel-metering valves for gas turbine and reciprocating engine applications, selected SEALTECH, INC. to distribute three of its products. All CCC valves have a built-in processor that continuously computes the gas flow through the valve and adjust this volume to match the demand from the engine. The products that the Tokyo company is marketing, which can be retrofitted in the field or installed as original equipment, are for gas turbine engines. They span a small gas valve (AGV-10), a large gas valve (AGV-50) and a liquid valve. Prices run from $19,000 to $23,800. Sealtech is projecting combined annual sales of 30 units.
Public utilities and energy providers in Japan have another alternative for producing power when and where it is needed without requiring a large investment in equipment. CAPSTONE TURBINE CORP. signed just-formed ACTIVE POWER CORP. and TAKUMA CO., LTD. as value-added resellers and systems integrators of the Capstone MicroTurbine system. The first model, which can function as a stand-alone unit or be connected to the local electric grid, is the 30-kilowatt Capstone MicroTubine Model 330. Among the chief selling points of its microturbine technology, Woodland Hills, California- based Capstone says, are extremely low levels of nitrous oxide gas emissions, quiet operation, compact size and an ability to use a variety of fuels. Takuma already has commercialized a heat and power cogeneration package based on the Capstone MicroTurbine Model 330 that it plans to market in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia starting in the spring of 2000.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
An eight-month collaboration between METACREATIONS CORP. and MINOLTA CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 21) has yielded a portable image-capture device that the partners say will dramatically cut the time and the cost of creating photorealistic 3D images. The Minolta 3D 1500 combines the Japanese company's Minolta Dimage EX digital camera with the Carpinteria, California firm's MetaFlash 3D technology, which resides between the camera body and the lens unit. The Minolta 3D 1500, which already is shipping, is expected to find a market among developers of Web sites and on-line merchandise catalogs, among other buyers.
Apparently determined to cover all price points in the digital camera market, EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary introduced a product for beginners that lists for $475. The DC80 has a 330,000-pixel CCD (charge-coupled device), but software included in the package can boost the resolution to 800,000 pixels. The price also includes computer-connection cables so that people who want to attach photos to e-mails or upload them to the Web can do so.
OPTICAL PRODUCTS DEVELOPMENT CORP. named SAMMY CORP. to distribute its line of virtual-reality-interface 3D projection systems. Retail advertising displays and trade show presentations are among the primary uses for the Elmira, New York firm's VOLUMATRIX VX-360, VX-24 and VX-50 products since they project an object's image in full 3D. In addition to these applications, Tokyo-headquartered Sammy hopes to develop a market for OPD's products in the amusement park area.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Machine vision-based automated inspection systems manufacturer PPT VISION, INC. has received a $1 million-plus contract from TOKYO WELD CO., LTD., the first under a new long-term OEM supply agreement. The Japanese company makes systems for the back- end processes involved in the production of surface-mount technology passive components, such as resistors, capacitors and inductors. PPT VISION's high-speed, two- dimensional machine vision inspection systems will be combined with Tokyo Weld's passive component production equipment to provide complete, on-line inspection of individual components. The Minneapolis firm expects this order to be followed by other contracts.
Through one of its seven distributors, CVI LASER CORP. put on the market the SM-240 Handheld CCD Spectrometer, which, used with a PC, provides spectral information and color data. The unit is extremely adaptable. For example, the spectral range can be configured to meet the user's requirements. Moreover, depending on the accessory chosen, the SM-240 can be employed for process control, spectroscopy, environmental monitoring, color testing and other applications. It also can be configured for transmission, reflectance, absorbance and other measurements. TEKSEL CO., LTD., one of CVI's smaller wholesalers, priced the base SM-240 unit at $3,100. The Albuquerque, New Mexico company's biggest distributor is FUTURE INSTRUMENT TRADING CORP.
Given its forecast of $28.6 million in first-year sales, TOYO CORP., one of the top importers of precision instruments, obviously believes that a strong market exists in Japan for the scanning probe microscopes made by THERMOMICROSCOPES. Four of the Sunnyvale, California firm's products are available. The AutoProbe M5 contains in its single head the scanning probe microscopy modes most often required in industry and basic research, including contact, noncontact and intermittent-contact atomic force microscopy and lateral force microscopy as well as such advanced modes as scanning tunneling microscopy. For companies seeking versatility in atomic force microscopy, ThermoMicroscopes has the Explorer, while its AutoProbe CP Research is designed for organizations requiring the most advanced SPM research instrument. Finally, Toyo is marketing Aurora, which is what is known as a near-field scanning optical microscope.
The team of RISK MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS, INC. of Menlo Park, California, contractor KAJIMA CORP. and OYO CORP., one of the world's leading geological research firms, is developing a system to predict in detail the damage to various types of structures from earthquakes and the costs of repairs. The partners believe that such information will be in increasing demand as the real estate-backed securitization market grows. RMS is providing its catastrophic risk evaluation and management expertise to the project, while Kajima will contribute its earthquake-resistant technology and Oyo its geological data base. Since early 1998, RMS and Oyo have offered sophisticated risk modeling products and services to insurers and the like through a Japan-based venture.
VEXCEL CORP. of Boulder, Colorado is offering through a Tokyo distributor a more affordable alternative to high-density tape and digital recorders for general-purpose digital data acquisition and retransmission from satellite downlinks or other high-rate digital data sources. The Vexcel Direct Capture System allows this information to be captured directly on standard computer disks for processing, storage or retransmission via networks and communications satellites. VxDCS consists of a Unix workstation with a PCI bus, a disk array, driver and control software and one or more of Vexcel's integrated circuit boards.
Although earlier this year, SONY TEKTRONIX CORP. indicated that it planned to reduce its product dependence on co-owners TEKTRONIX, INC. and SONY CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), two of the joint venture's latest test and measurement devices come from its Wilsonville, Oregon parent. The PQM 300 Program Quality of Service Monitor is designed to monitor in real time the quality of compressed television so that broadcasters can detect defects before they become complaints. Priced at $44,800, the basic PQM 300 monitors two channels, but it can be expanded to track eight channels. The companion MTM 300 MPEG Multistream Transport Monitor likewise allows broadcasters to monitor simultaneously and in real time up to eight transport streams anywhere in the system to ensure that they comply with the appropriate standards. This system costs $51,000. Between the PQM 300 and the MTM 300, Sony Tektronix hopes to sell roughly 100 units a year.
For radiology facilities that do not have the volume of business to justify the KODAK DRYVIEW 8700 Laser Imaging System, which has a throughput of 120 14 x 17-inch films per hour, EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary introduced the 55-films-per-hour KODAK DRYVIEW 8100 system. With this exception, the two dry-processing imaging systems are identical (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 20). The new model, of course, is a more affordable $74,300.
MHW's December 1998 decision to allow medical facilities to use microwave disinfection to transform infectious medical waste into a product safe for disposal as municipal solid waste could be a real boon for SANITEC, INC.'s business. The West Caldwell, New Jersey company makes microwave disinfection systems. This equipment, available in stationary and mobile versions, combines advanced shredding technology with conventional microwave action. Sanitec named NITTO SHOJI CO., LTD. of Kochi prefecture as the exclusive distributor of the HG-A 100S and the HG-A 250S. These models differ only in their throughput: 220 to 400 pounds an hour versus 550 to 900 pounds per hour. Including installation, the smaller system costs about $1.1 million, while the larger one is about $1.6 million. Nitto Shoji believes that it can sell about 10 units a year. Sanitec already has sold six systems to hospitals on its own.
Over the last year or so, BECTON DICKINSON AND CO., a major supplier of medical laboratory apparatus and associated equipment, has identified what it believes are several growth fields in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22). The latest addition to its list is equipment that supports genetic research. As soon as 2001, the subsidiary of the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey company plans to put on the market a diagnostic system that can detect the microorganisms implicated in venereal diseases. Other pending releases include a system that helps to calculate the risk of developing various types of cancer and equipment and reagents to assist client companies conducting genetic research.
Market newcomer AXOM INSTRUMENTS, INC., a Foster City, California developer of instrumentation and software for cellular neuroscience and genomics, gave INTER MEDICAL CO., LTD. exclusive rights to represent its genomic research product line. The initial such product is the GenePix 4000 microarray scanner, which provides integrated acquisition and first-pass analysis of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) microarrays, otherwise known as gene chips.
Laboratory automation equipment manufacturer ZYMARK CORP. has scored its first big sale since opening a sales and service subsidiary in Tokyo this past summer. TAIHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. purchased the Hopkinton, Massachusetts firm's new Allegro Combo system for high-throughput screening of compounds for biological activity. The midsize drug company is the initial Japanese buyer of this drug-discovery tool.
Opening up yet another marketing channel, this one into hospital operating rooms, GE MARQUETTE MEDICAL SYSTEMS JAPAN, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22) will work with DRAGER JAPAN, LTD. Starting in 2000, the subsidiary of the German firm will market GE Marquette's patient monitoring systems with its own anesthesiology equipment. The pending tie-up comes in the wake of a similar collaboration between the parent companies. GE Marquette ranks second in Japan in patient monitoring systems, while Drager Japan holds the same position in the anesthesiology equipment business.
Represented by SUMITOMO ELECTRIC SYSTEMS CO., LTD., Atlanta's PER-SE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. sold its Patient1 clinical information system to St. Mary's Hospital in Fukuoka. With nearly 1,400 beds, St. Mary's is one of Japan's largest private hospitals. Patient1, which will augment the hospital's current clinical information capabilities, integrates all aspects of the care experience into a single, confidential computer-based patient record. The contract also includes Per-Se Technologies' new Vista clinical software, a Java-based graphical user interface that expands clinical views and provides Web access.
With a relatively high incidence of cardiovascular disease in Japan, especially hypertension, HYPERTENSION DIAGNOSTICS, INC. sees a potentially significant market for its noninvasive cardiovascular profiling technology. The St. Paul, Minnesota company awarded exclusive marketing rights to its equipment to the Higa Medical Systems Division of HIGA INDUSTRIES, LTD. The Tokyo firm will be responsible for managing all aspects of the MHW approval process, starting with the HDI/PulseWave CR-2000, a product that currently is in use in the United States for research purposes only. Higa Medical Systems also will market the HDI/PulseWave DO-2020/MD-3000, which is intended to assist physicians in screening patients for underlying cardiovascular disease. This system has not received the FDA's marketing go-ahead yet.
All of MICRO THERAPEUTICS, INC.'s first generation of minimally invasive neurovascular access and delivery products have been approved for sale in Japan. The last to receive MHW clearance was the Equinox Occlusion Balloon System, which is used in procedures that require selectively stopping or controlling blood flow in vessels. In September, the ministry cleared the EASY RIDER Micro Catheter, the FLOW RIDER Flow Directed Catheter and the SilverSpeed Hydrophilic Guidewire. Irvine, California- based Micro Therapeutics' neurovascular and peripheral vascular products are distributed exclusively by CENTURY MEDICAL INC.
The first in a new series of dilation catheters from GUIDANT CORP. has received MHW approval. The ACS RX GEMINI Coronary Dilation Catheter, which was designed with input from Japanese doctors, incorporates a new coil for greater flexibility when the balloon encounters tortuous arteries. It also features a more robust shaft technology that increases the push for crossing tight lesions. The Indianapolis firm's subsidiary will handle marketing of the ACS RX GEMINI.
With MHW marketing approval in hand, exclusive distributor SANKO JUNYAKU CO., LTD. has begun sales of IMMUCOR, INC.'s ABS2000 and related reagents. The Norcross, Georgia manufacturer describes the ABS2000 as the only fully automated blood bank analysis system for hospital transfusion services. Earlier this year, Immucor and Sanko Junyaku signed a new marketing agreement (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 23).
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
With MOTOROLA INC. set to make TOHOKU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. a wholly owned subsidiary by the end of 2000 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, pp. 20-21), business planners at the big American chipmaker are spending a considerable amount of time examining the wafer-fabrication facility's requirements both in the near term and further down the road. The main long-run consideration for the two Sendai, Miyagi prefecture front ends, which now turn out a variety of logic products, is that they will reach their installed capacities within two to three years, assuming a continuation of 1999's strong gains. That will require a decision fairly soon about whether to expand capacity. In the meantime, though, Motorola and current partner TOSHIBA CORP. plan within 2000 to equip TSC's 200-millimeter (8-inch) front end to handle 0.3-micron processing rather than the current 0.5-micron design rule. The switch is intended to keep ahead of the automotive industry's growing demand for flash-embedded microcontroller units. This factory can process 20,000 wafers a month. The other fab has a monthly throughput of 60,000 150-mm (6-inch) wafers.
It took 20 months to finalize the details, but IBIS TECHNOLOGY CORP., the leading supplier of silicon-on-insulator wafers based on the SIMOX (separation by implantation of oxygen) process, agreed to license its standard and Advantox SIMOX-SOI wafer- fabrication technology to MITSUBISHI MATERIALS SILICON CORP. Earlier, the Danvers, Massachusetts company had sold the big maker of conventional silicon wafers an Ibis 1000 oxygen implant system so that it could establish a wafer-fabrication factory in Japan. At that time, Ibis Technology also gave Mitsubishi Materials Silicon the right to market SIMOX-SOI wafers worldwide. The Japanese manufacturer will make an initial royalty payment and pay future royalties based on sales. Ibis Technology cites several advantages for integrated circuits made from SIMOX-SOI wafers, including faster microprocessing speeds, reduced power consumption and higher temperature operation.
KOPIN CORP. is manufacturing and shipping volume quantities of gallium arsenide HBT (heterojunction bipolar transistor) transistor wafers to MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. MELCO is using the Tauton, Massachusetts company's product to produce power amplifiers for its GSM (global system for mobile communications) digital wireless handsets, the cellular standard in wide use in Europe and in parts of Asia. Before Kopin launched production for MELCO, the two worked together for several years to develop a HBT process optimized for the Japanese manufacturer's GSM products.
A potentially vast new market has opened in Japan for LSI LOGIC CORP. now that DENSO CORP. is using the Milpitas, California chipmaker's single-chip CDMA (code- division multiple access) baseband processor in its IS-95B-compliant digital wireless handset for domestic customers. Its highly integrated part, LSI Logic says, enables CDMA handset manufacturers to add more features while using less power and less space than was possible with previous CDMA chipset solutions. For instance, handset suppliers can produce a phone with more than 150 hours of active standby time, over two hours of talk time and Internet browsing capabilities.
With much of the work on digital television occurring in Japan, that market is critical to TERALOGIC, INC., the developer of ICs and reference designs for digital TVs, set-top boxes and PC-TV convergence products. Consequently, the Mountain View, California firm, which currently sells two chipsets and a pair of development platforms through MARUBUN CORP., opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo to better support its OEM customers. These include MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., a recent investor in TeraLogic, SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. The in-country presence also will enable TeraLogic to strengthen relationships with its newest strategic partners, ACCESS CO., LTD. and KENWOOD CORP. Both of these companies have selected TeraLogic's Cougar platform to develop high-quality, low-cost digital TV software and hardware solutions for OEMs. Access will port its NetFront information appliance browser software to the Cougar platform, while Kenwood will integrate its TC 8PSK network interface module with this development tool.
At the same time that TERALOGIC, INC. established its Tokyo subsidiary, it announced two additional OEM customers. VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. will use the company's TL855 chip in 4:2:2 professional-quality high-definition TV decoders. Broadcasters and producers use encoders and decoders capable of 4:2:2 coding to transport, edit and monitor high-quality HDTV video over their networks. For its part, NEC CORP. will utilize the TL750 graphics processor to provide the graphical interface for its GigaStation. This is the first digital video recorder to use optical discs.
With business growing in Japan, MARVELL SEMICONDUCTOR, INC.'s subsidiary opened a larger technical and sales support facility in Tokyo. The Sunnyvale, California company provides mixed-signal DSP (digital signal processor) chips that increase the capacity of mass storage and data communications products.
Within the month, local developers of ASICs (application-specific ICs) will be able to obtain at no cost prototypes of their parts within 24 to 48 hours. That service, dubbed WebASIC, will be provided by QUICKLOGIC CORP., which is opening an office in Yokohama as well as a wafer-fabrication facility in Singapore. Created to accelerate time to market, the WebASIC system simply requires engineers to download a free copy of the Sunnyvale, California company's QuickWorks-Lite Development Tool from its Web site and then send their digital design data to QuickLogic over the Internet. The appropriate pASIC FPGA (field-programmable gate array) or ESP (embedded standard product) prototype is shipped to the customer via next-day delivery.
What developer LATTICE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. says are the industry's first high- performance, in-system programmable analog ICs are available from the Hillsboro, Oregon company's subsidiary. The distinguishing characteristic of ispPAC devices is that via standard serial interfaces, they can be programmed, erased and reprogrammed while soldered to a printed circuit board. Lattice's marketing unit sample-priced the ispPAC10 at $11.45 each and the ispPAC20 at $10.95 per unit.
TENSILICA INC., a pioneer in the fast-growing business for application-specific processor cores and software development tools for high-volume, embedded systems, licensed its Xtensa processor technology to FUJITSU, LTD. The big electronics manufacturer will use the processor generator to develop embedded processors for unspecified future communications products. Last May, the Santa Clara, California start-up established a subsidiary in Yokohama, its first interna-tional operation. Tensilica's technology has attracted the interest of a number of investors, including MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 9).
What is said to be the first Windows CE-based handheld device with an integrated camera capable of capturing and displaying high-quality video is the result of a development project between NOGATECH, INC. and VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. This breakthrough was due in large part to the Santa Clara, California firm's USBvision chipset, which enables devices that have a USB interface, which includes JVC's Interlink handheld computer, to capture and play live video in full frame-rate motion while drawing relatively little power. Equally important, the small size of the Nogatech part allowed JVC to develop a miniature camera that attaches to its Windows CE device. The video-en-abled Interlink MP-C101 is available in Japan.
S3 INC., which can claim the world's largest installed base of graphics and video accelerators, has given TOMEN ELECTRONICS CORP. distribution rights to its mobile Savage graphics controller for laptop computers. Thanks to the Santa Clara, California firm's image-compression technology, this part is said to deliver to portables the same high- performance, 3D graphics available with desktops that use other members of the Savage family. Given this promise, Tomen Electronics is projecting sales of S3 products at a minimum of $28.6 million through March 2001 and perhaps as high as $38.1 million.
LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s Allentown, Pennsylvania-based microelectronics group has signed up its fourth distributor, ASAHI GLASS CO., LTD. Japan's top glass manufacturer, which already represents a number of other semiconductor makers, including NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP., believes that Lucent's lineup of chips for communications and information equipment and other end uses will produce sales of $28.6 million in the first year.
Among the semiconductors made by LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. are power products for a variety of applications. This line now includes a pair of DC/DC switching power supplies designed for performance-oriented processors and DSPs used in high- end servers, data networking equipment and wireless apparatus. Both the Onami Power Module Series, which is sampling for $65 per unit in quantities of 1,000, and the Zephyr Power Module Series, sampled-priced at $44 apiece in the same volume, are engineered to meet the space constraints of their positioning as well as the transient load requirements of today's processors and DSPs.
In a worldwide release, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. introduced two families of power- management devices intended to better supply and manage DC power in portable and handheld products. The TPS6012x and the TPS6013x DC/DC converters are charge- pump power supplies with an adaptable voltage-conversion efficiency for the wide input voltage range of a two-cell battery pack. TI's new line of power controllers, the TPS5102 and the TPS5103, is designed for notebook PCs and other battery-powered applications where high efficiency is necessary to conserve battery life.
New as well from TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. is a low-cost $2.05 per unit in quantities of 10,000 32-bit stereo audio digital equalizer. Its subsidiary is marketing the TAS3001 for audio applications where tone, volume and dynamic range management are important functions, including speaker and microphone equalization.
For its part, BURR BROWN CORP.'s operation is marketing a pair of 24-bit, 96-kilohertz sampling, six-channel audio digital/analog converters. The PCM1600 and the PCM1601 are targeted at such applications as integrated audio-video receivers, DVD movie and audio players and other products where an excellent signal-to-noise performance and a high tolerance to clock jitter are required. The chips are priced at $16.10 each.
QC SOLUTIONS, INC. has its initial order from a Japanese IC manufacturer for the QCS- 7200RS Surface Charge Profiler, which will be used to monitor and map the resistivity of epitaxial wafers grown by this company as well as purchased from outside suppliers. This metrology system has the unique ability to measure epi resistivity nondestructively and on production wafers, thereby eliminating the need for the monitor wafers that had to be used until now. Moreover, the QCS-7200RS can map the entire wafer surface instead of just a few points. The tool also can be used with all sizes of epi wafers, including 300-mm (12- inch) ones. INNOTECH CORP. is North Billerica, Massachusetts-based QC Solutions' distributor.
Modified versions of the GENCOBOT 4 wafer-han-dling robot and GENCOBOT 4 with integral wafer prealigner will be manufactured in Japan under an agreement between GENMARK AUTOMATION, INC. and the Sunnyvale, California company's exclusive distributor, GUNZE SANGYO, INC. The Tokyo company will outsource production to its affiliate, EASTERN TECHNICS CORP. The GB4 robot provides fast, accurate and repeatable transport of wafers up to 300-mm in size in a compact package at an affordable price, while the GB4P incorporates design improvements for enhanced performance and reliability. Gunze Sangyo did not indicate the nature of the changes that would be made to the GB4 and the GB4P.
In another milestone for its Japanese business, CYMER, INC. installed its 200th excimer laser light source, which is required for deep ultraviolet photolithography, at a wafer fab in Japan. The San Diego, California manufacturer's 248-nanometer KrF lasers are used to produce devices with line geometries of 0.25 micron and under. Cymer estimates that it has more than 80 percent of the market in Japan for excimer lasers.
In a deal that is equally key for ULTRATECH STEPPER, INC.'s sales in Japan, the photolithography equipment supplier beat out other bidders in winning an order for its first 157-nm microstepper. The customer, an unnamed Japanese semiconductor consortium, will use the next-generation tool for R&D purposes specifically, resist and materials characterization. Ultratech's microstepper has a resolution capability of 0.10 micron, enabling it to handle shrinking device geometries while developers of lithography equipment overcome the technical challenges associated with electron-beam and extreme ultraviolet technologies. The San Jose, California company credits its win to its ability to engineer tools for special, advanced requirements and to its strong after-sales support capabilities in Japan. It expects to ship the microstepper in the second quarter of 2000.
EXTRACTION SYSTEMS INC., a Franklin, Massachusetts maker of airborne molecular contamination measurement and control products for ultraclean environments, has lined up HAKUTO CO., LTD. as the exclusive distributor of its VaporSorb II filtration systems to lithography equipment manufacturers and chip suppliers. The VaporSorb II's polymeric catalyst-based filters are designed to replace both traditional track and stepper/scanner charcoal and ion exchange-based filtration systems. Because of the technology used, the system eliminates normal filter changes, thereby improving tool uptime and reducing the cost of consumables.
The shrinkage of design rules and the use of new materials and structures in the semiconductor industry have created novel, smaller defects that cannot be captured using optical technology. KLA-TENCOR CORP. is offering a way around this yield-reducing problem: the eV300 automated scanning electron microscope review system. Designed for both in-line monitoring and engineering analysis applications at 0.18 micron and smaller geometries, the system can be configured to handle both 200-mm and 300-mm wafers. Among the several distinctive features of the eV300 is a new imaging capability called TruePerspective that allows the wafer to be tilted up to 45 degrees and to be rotated continuously.
One of the first products introduced by the subsidiary of AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC., which now is responsible for what were HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s test and measurement, semiconductor production equipment and medical instrumentation businesses (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), is Model C400 of the renamed Agilent 93000 SOC (system on a chip) Series. This system designed to test advanced mixed-signal chips, such as those found in DVD players and digital TVs is engineered to address the requirements of the cost-driven part of the SOC market. The Model C400 is priced at $1.2 million, yet it provides the speed and the support for high digital pin counts of more expensive products in the series.
ROBOTIC VISION SYSTEMS, INC. has introduced two chip package inspection systems through exclusive distributor KAIJO CORP. The Hauppauge, New York supplier has especially high hopes for the modular LS-7700 3D laser inspection system. Priced at $390,500, it can scan everything from the largest quad flat pack device to the smallest chip- scale package with what RVSI says are the speed and the measurement accuracy of dedicated part-type systems. Between the two products, Kaijo hopes to sell 50 systems a year.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Although barely six months old, Internet broadcaster FOREIGNTV.COM, INC., which specializes in the production and the aggregation of global streaming media content, is moving into the Japanese market. It is forming a company with JAPAN DIGITAL PUBLISHING INC. for the on-line broadcast of primarily Japanese-language content. The New York City start-up will be in charge of designing the site, while its Japanese partner will supply the majority of the content, including music and fashion videos, cultural pieces and interviews. The local site should be up and running in February 2000. ForeignTV.com allows on-line users around the world to access whatever global information interests them whenever they want it.
CATALOG CITY, INC., which offers merchandise from hundreds of name catalog retailers at its shopping portal, is doing the groundwork for the debut of an on-line mall for catalog retailers in Japan. The Pacific Grove, California firm signed a licensing and content agreement with newly created CATALOG CITY JAPAN K.K., now a joint venture between Tokyo e-com-merce companies SUPER STAGE INC. and BC PRODUCTS, INC. Catalog City agreed to localize its interface and content as well as provide hosting and production tools. At some unspecified time, it will purchase a one-third interest in Catalog City Japan and share in the portal's revenues. The Japanese unit is in charge of signing up catalog retailers, preparing site content and providing customer support. It already has raised another $5.7 million in financing from venture-capital companies owned by SOFTBANK CORP., HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. and other sources. Catalog City Japan hopes to go live during the second quarter of 2000.
In a major win for VIADOR, INC., the San Mateo, California company has licensed its enterprise portal software to SHISEIDO CO., LTD., which will use Viador E-Portal Suite to give its worldwide operations Web browser-based access to sales, production and inventory information. Japan's top cosmetics provider currently uses a combination of fax, e-mail and telephone services to shuttle data between and among its domestic and overseas offices. Shiseido expects its E-Portal site to streamline distribution, improve time to market for new products and reduce operating costs.
A six-way partnership hopes to be selling automotive parts and accessories over the Internet early in 2000. E-SHOPPING! CARGOODS CORP. is backed by SOFTBANK COMMERCE CORP. (46 percent), NIPPON MITSUBISHI OIL CORP. (24 percent), vehicle accessory wholesaler EMPIRE MOTOR CO., LTD. (15 percent), YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. (10 percent) and CARPOINT JAPAN K.K. (5 percent), itself a joint venture of SOFTBANK CORP. and MICROSOFT CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 26). Initially, about 200 Nippon Mitsubishi service stations in the Tokyo area will install the items that customers buy on-line. Eventually, though, the service will be offered through all 7,500 of Nippon Mitsubishi's locations nationwide. At some point, the e-Shopping! Web site will be linked with CarPoint's.
With the market for secure, corporate electronic communications expanding rapidly, TUMBLEWEED COMMUNICATIONS CORP., a major supplier of the enabling technology (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 26), sold half its subsidiary to distribution partner HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. for $3.3 million. The joint venture plans to seek equity participation from big trading companies and systems integrators in the near future to ensure that it has the financial capability to take full advantage of developments in the secure messaging market. Last spring, Hikari Tsushin put up $14 million in venture financing for Redwood City, California-based Tumbleweed.
After just a year in business, THE PATENT & LICENSE EXCHANGE, INC. plans to expand its patent license brokering and information services to Japan via the Internet. The Pasadena, California firm thinks that Japan's rich trove of patents could be worth as much as $2 trillion in terms of licensing fees. The initial local move of the self-described first e- commerce market-maker for intellectual property rights will be to index information on patents held by 2,000 Japanesecompanies and price each one accordingly. As soon as January 2000, it hopes to begin auctioning the patents on its pl-x.com Web site.
Teaming up with one of its recent backers, RECIPROCAL, INC., a Buffalo, New York digital rights management company, will put up 40 percent of the capital for a joint venture with SOFTBANK CORP. that is designed to enable Japanese companies to safely and profitably distribute digital content over the Internet or via physical digital media. Tokyo- based SOFTBANK DIGITAL RIGHTS, INC., expected to be formed in the first quarter of 2000, will use Reciprocal's DRM system and clearinghouse technologies to provide the infrastructure for the growth of digital commerce in Japan. Copyright protection, clearing services for financial and other information, intellectual property rights enforcement and IP tracking and reporting services all can be handled via Reciprocal's Digital Clearing Service 2.0 solution. Although not yet in business, Softbank Digital Rights already has lined up its first customer: the eS!Music portal, a cooperative effort of YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. and SOFTBANK COMMERCE CORP.
LICENSE ONLINE, INC. offers a specialized type of DRM service for licensing MICROSOFT CORP. software on-line. Beginning in January 2000, MITSUI & CO., LTD. will use the Kirkland, Washington firm's solution to power a new e-commerce venture that initially will license Windows 2000 products via the Internet, generating as much as $95.2 million in revenues by March 2002. License Online's system provides customers with estimated licensing fees for various software configurations and volume pricing. It also tracks software usage and license renewals.
Not satisfied with what it says is its ability to reach 55 percent of all American Internet users with its electronic advertisements, 24/7 MEDIA, INC. has jumped into the Japanese market. The New York City firm's just-established, wholly owned Tokyo subsidiary will offer a wide range of services, everything from direct advertising development and sales to consulting services for virtual advertisers.
OPENSITE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has made Japan its second international target, joining hands with JAPAN ENTRY CORP. of West Boxford, Massachusetts to begin promoting its on-line auction and dynamic e-commerce solutions and services. The software developed by Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based OpenSite offers dynamic pricing capabilities, making it attractive for business-to-business transactions and auctions. Japan Entry, which specializes in helping American firms gain a toehold in Japan's competitive markets, includes among its clients CITRIX SYSTEMS, INC., RED HAT, INC. and WIND RIVER SYSTEMS, INC.
While its original mission was similar to Japan Entry's, ENCOMPASS GLOBALIZATION, INC. is expanding its scope by offering turnkey, localized e-com-merce solutions to American firms interested in the Japanese market. The Kirkland, Washington-based unit of ENCOMPASS GROUP, INC. which was formed in 1995 by DBC TECHNOLOGIES INC., NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. and TRANS COSMOS INC.'s American subsidiary has teamed with Trans Cosmos to market a full line of Japanese services. These span Web site development, English-to-Japanese translation of Web pages, data base integration and back-end support, customer-call support in Japan, Japanese-style order management and yen-based payment solutions.
The pace of new offerings in the Japanese market for business-to-business solutions remains torrid. I2 TECHNOLOGIES, INC., for example, plans to introduce in April 2000 services and software to boost the performance of corporate procurement and sales activities on the Internet. The Irving, Texas company will localize its Trade Matrix B2B system, allowing Japanese buyers to accept bids from companies around the globe. Manufacturers of electronics and PCs as well as trading companies are expected to be particularly interested in i2 Technologies' services.
The company formed in September by digital data management service provider WAM!NET INC. of Eagan, Minnesota and SUMITOMO CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 33) has gotten off to a fast start. It has improved its B2B network service by adding a Japanese-language capability and fine-tuning its work- flow tools in line with local business practices. Most impressively, WAM!NET's majority- owned venture has signed up some of Japan's top printing and advertising companies, including DEN-TSU INC., HAKUHODO INC., DAI NIPPON PRINTING CO., LTD., KYODO NEWS MARKETS CO., LTD. and TOPPAN PRINTING CO., LTD. However, the first customer to deploy the new Japanese-language service is UNIVERSAL VICTOR, INC., which will use WAM!NET to transfer data for its CD jackets from the United States to Japan.
At the high end of the B2B market, PORTAL SOFTWARE, INC. has shown that it intends to be a major player in Japan by opening a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo and pledging to adapt its e-business infrastructure software to the requirements of Internet services providers, communications providers, emerging Internet services businesses and companies offering on-line services. The Cupertino, California firm is a leading provider of customer management and billing software for the Internet in the form of its real-time Infranet 6.0 as well as of next-generation communications services. Portal Software's three distributors BUSSAN SYSTEMS INTEGRATION CO., LTD., ITOCHU TECHNO- SCIENCE CORP. and NTT SOFTWARE CORP. are part owners of its subsidiary.
Big portal operator LYCOS, INC. along with SUMITOMO CORP. and INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. have brought in KADOKAWA SHOTEN PUBLISHING CO., LTD. as a 7.4 percent partner in LYCOS JAPAN K.K., representing an investment of $761,900. The joint venture hopes to leverage its connection with the media company to expanded the contents of its portal. At the same time, Lycos Japan raised $32.4 million, primarily from equal owners Lycos of Waltham, Massachusetts and Sumitomo, that will be used to further upgrade its portal and for promotional activities. Meanwhile, the company added a powerful set of on-line Web design tools. The new portal service, named Tripod Japan, signed up 10,000 users in its first four days, mirroring its strong showing in the United States and Europe.
MICROSOFT CORP.'s unit and NEC CORP. have teamed up to promote sales of the software giant's Web-site design package, FrontPage 2000, as well as end-to-end Web hosting services. Joining the marketing effort are JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. and two Internet-related companies, CRAYFISH CO., LTD. and INTERQ INC.
With reliability becoming a key consideration for the expansion of e-commerce, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. sees a promising market for its fail-over Web server package. Combining its NonStop Web Server software with its Himalaya series of enterprise servers, Compaq's subsidiary is offering turnkey, high-avail-ability Web server solutions beginning at $283,800.
NEC CORP. has lined up some powerful allies behind its Biglobe Internet service: HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and ORACLE CORP. Beginning in 2000, the three will work together to create hardware, software and ISP services packages for Biglobe, already the number two in the market. Before then, the partners will establish a center to develop technology and share business information.
Not to be outdone, FUJITSU, LTD. will launch a wireless Web service for its @nifty ISP business using software from SPYGLASS INC. The Naperville, Illinois firm's Prism powers @nifty's Mobile Fitter Internet portal, which can reformat on-the-fly ordinary Web pages to fit the small screens of handheld devices. Spyglass products are available through distributor INTERCOM CO., LTD. @nifty is Japan's top ISP.
Sophisticated click-stream logging and analysis solutions from ACCRUE SOFTWARE, INC. are now available in a fully localized form through distributor SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 25). The Fremont, California firm's Insight 3.1/J allows site designers not only to develop click histories of users, but it also enables them to evaluate the effect of Web site changes. Sumisho Electronics priced this package at $38,100. It will offer as well click-stream analysis services based on Accrue's software to e-commerce businesses and other clients. These services will start at $4,800 a month. The distributor is projecting revenues from this activity at $4.8 million in the first year.
JAVU TECHNOLOGIES, INC. licensed its on-line video editing and digital media processing tools on a nonexclusive basis to NTT COMMUNICATIONWARE CORP. One of Japan's bigger software houses, the Japanese company will use JavuNetwork to add rich multimedia capabilities to its systems integration, network integration and IT outsourcing operations. The New York City firm's software makes powerful linear, nonlinear and real-time editing tools available to users over an intranet, the Internet or an extranet.
Interactive video streaming technology from SEEIT FIRST.COM, INC. will allow DENTSU TEC INC. to use rich, multimedia presentations to display clients' products and services on the Internet. The Fremont, California company's software raises the on-line experience to a new level by allowing users to interact in real time with streaming media resources. SeeItFirst.com will create a customized media player for the Japanese market as part of the deal with the advertising production subsidiary of the world's top single-brand ad agency.
The big communications services providers around the world licensed to use SOFTWARE.COM, INC.'s ISP-strength e-mail server software now include Japan's number-two domestic long-distance carrier, JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. JT will deploy the Santa Barbara, California firm's InterMail messaging platform to deliver e-mail and other advanced communications services to its growing number of dial-up customers. JT sought scalability, support for the IMAP4 e-mail protocol, enterprise outsourcing and mobile phone services in choosing InterMail.
Competitor COMMTOUCH SOFTWARE LTD. has landed a big contract of its own, signing up ASAHI SHIMBUN PUBLISHING CO. to tweak its e-mail software into an Asahi-branded messaging platform. The messaging software will be incorporated into Asahi's news and information Web site, allowing the influential newspaper to offer free e- mail services to users. Commtouch first began providing Japanese-language e-mail in 1996, long before most other companies. It now serves 1.2 million end-users in Japan who subscribe to the various outsourced Web-based e-mail services that it supports.
UNISYS CORP.'s local unit has jumped into the emerging market for application service providers, forming a business unit under the asaban.com brand name. For an as yet undetermined fee, customers will receive an Internet-based "electronic cabinet" that will contain their data and programs. This virtual office can be accessed via a Web browser from any type of Internet connection. Electronic payment and other back-end services also will be offered as options attractive features to small businesses and consumers alike.
A new version of its enterprise-level network security suite has been released by NOVELL, INC.'s Japanese arm. BorderManager Enterprise Edition 3.5 includes firewall, virtual private network and authentica-tion modules that link closely with its market-leading Novell Directory Services package. The combination, Novell estimates, will slash corporations' security management costs by as much as 70 percent. The modules also are available as stand-alone applications.
To parry sophisticated hacker attacks, NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC.'s subsidiary added CyberCop Sting to its menu of security products. The package creates a fake, decoy network that will track intruders' actions and help investigators trace the source of attacks. Integrated with complementary tools from NAI, CyberCop Sting costs $15,200 to $22,900 for a 1,000-seat network. The local NAI operation also plans to release in the spring of 2000 several Web security appliances under the WebShield E-ppliance name with preinstalled antivirus, firewall and other security software. These products are aimed at small and midsize businesses.
WATCHGUARD TECHNOLOGIES, INC. announced that FUJITSU BUSINESS SYSTEMS LTD. has joined its roster of distribution partners (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 28). The big information services provider will sell and support the Seattle firm's WatchGuard LiveSecurity System, which protects Web servers and e-commerce transactions through a combination of constant monitoring by software and human engineers, security appliances and server- and client-based programs.
Also in this space, Atlanta's INTERNET SECURITY SYSTEMS, INC. announced that its subsidiary is working with SECOM CO., LTD. to integrate their security assessment and intrusion detection solutions. Secom, already Japan's largest managed security services provider, will add ISS's SAFEsuite family of programs to its Cyber-Security Managed Security Service to deliver the country's first remotely managed intrusion detection service.
TURBOLINUX, INC.'s subsidiary has rolled out Japanese versions of its latest Linux open-source operating system products, TurboLinux Workstation 6.0J and TurboLinux Server 6.0J. The San Francisco firm also has assembled a SOHO package that includes all the hardware and the software to create a Linux-based client-server network. Its marketing unit has released as well Linux utilities, such as backup and security programs, to round out its menu.
Rival RED HAT, INC. is forging ahead with its Japan business strategy. It is initiating sales of Linux support packages in Japanese and developing a network of agents from 150 companies as well as a cadre of certified technicians and engineers drawn from six Linux- focused systems integrators. Red Hat's recently formed subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 28) is in charge of the campaign. It has set itself a revenue goal of $9.5 million for the first year.
Faced with the inevitable onslaught of Windows 2000 and its Active Directory, NOVELL, INC. will offer beginning in January 2000 new versions of its Novell Directory Services. One of the products, eDirectory, works with MICROSOFT CORP.'s AD to provide seamless connections with NDS. The other, NDS Enterprise Edition, updates the venerable NetWare network operating system to encompass even more heterogeneous information infrastructures.
Also tied to the debut of Windows 2000 is a new programming utility from Schaumburg, Illinois-based INSTALLSHIELD SOFTWARE CORP. InstallShield Professional 2000 lets IT administrators create installation wizards for clients, ensuring uniform desktops and simplifying a potentially complex maintenance task. As with other InstallShield products, distribution of the $2,300 package is handled by NETSERVE INC.
Even though it opened a wholly owned subsidiary last summer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 18), ZAYANTE, INC. still felt that it needed more marketing support for its family of IEEE 1394-compliant software modules. A memorandum of understanding between the Scotts Valley, California firm's Japanese unit and KOBE STEEL, LTD. addresses this gap by committing Kobelco not only to promote Zayante's high-speed interface software but also to port it to different CPUs and board/system designs. Zayante and Kobelco are projecting the results of their collaboration at a robust $47.6 million in the first year.
Cupertino, California-based RATIONAL SOFTWARE CORP. has given its Japanese operation new ammunition in the software development market: a localized version of its program analysis environment. Rational Suite AnalystStudio which lists from $5,900 to $26,700 with add-ons helps software developers get a better idea of customer needs and how their solution meets those requirements.
A more comprehensive software development and version-control system from MERANT INTERNATIONAL LTD. of Rockville, Maryland will streamline SUMITOMO CEMENT SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD.'s work flow. MERANT's PVCS Professional solution will shorten development times for programs intended for cement factories, including quality control, shipment management and sales administration.
With Japan home to about 12 percent of the global base of IBM AS/400 users, AS/400 software specialist I/NET, INC. is going after the Japanese market. The Kalamazoo, Michigan firm signed GENERAL BUSINESS SERVICES CO., LTD. to distribute its products and is working with its new Tokyo partner to prepare its software for the Japanese market. Since GBS is partly owned by IBM JAPAN LTD. and already handles a large volume of AS/400 hardware and software sales, I/NET's Internet-enabling products, including Net Print/400, will tap a ready base of customers and technical support.
IBM JAPAN LTD. and NTT SOFTWARE CORP. have begun sales of WebBASE Server Pages for WebSphere, their $1,900 Java servlet and Java script engine for IBM Japan's Web site development environment. The software allows programmers to move many processor-intense, data-base tasks to the server, improving response times and reducing bandwidth demands.
INSIGNIA SOLUTIONS INC. is targeting one of Java's weak spots its relatively slow performance in one of the hottest markets for embedded Java technology. The Fremont, California company has released its Jeode platform through a new Tokyo office. Insignia's current distributor, AI CORP., will continue in that role. The independently developed Jeode adheres to Sun Microsystems' EmbeddedJava and PersonalJava specifications, but it offers significant performance improvements in consumer and embedded Java applications.
Realizing that connectivity is key to the success of its OnNet Solution Internet-oriented computer consulting service, UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary developed EnConne Enabler for Connection. This middleware product allows legacy and state-of-the-art mainframes to link seamlessly with heterogeneous client computers and networks. The package supports several variants of Unix as well as Windows NT, plus many back-end data bases and Web-centric products. Depending on a user's needs, EnConne is priced from $32,400.
With the same idea, MICROSOFT CORP. and HITACHI, LTD. agreed to link their middleware and messaging products. By the start of 2000, the partners hope to integrate Hitachi's Groupmax Workflow for Exchange more tightly with Microsoft's Exchange Server, allowing work-flow management to be expanded throughout a corporate intranet and the Internet. Microsoft has a similar tie-up with NEC CORP. .....Separately, MICROSOFT CORP. and HITACHI SOFTWARE ENGINEERING CO., LTD. will join hands to further their systems integration businesses. Through an exchange of software experts, the partners will offer a more complete menu of enterprise information products, including e- commerce and knowledge management as well as core IT systems. They hope to win some 100 contracts annually for information systems work.
The subsidiaries of UNISYS CORP. and BEA SYSTEMS, INC. have signed a sales and development agreement to improve their positions in the market for Internet application servers. Unisys will add its expertise in Java applications to BEA Systems' WebLogic family of Web app servers to engineer products with better interoperability and stability. Last spring, the Unisys unit created a 40-person operation dedicated to developing Java systems. In light of the tie-up with BEA Systems, this group will be expanded to roughly 100 employees.
A very much on-the-move-in-Japan COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC. has developed with NTT COMMUNICATIONS CORP. an enterprise information management services solution that promises to maintain cutting-edge technology and techniques. International long-distance services provider NTT Communications will offer consulting, design and implementation services backed by CA's full line of enterprise software. That includes in particular its Neugents neural network-based predictive management tool. Training support will be offered as well, including a new EIMS competency center. The pair hope to attract nontraditional customers, such as printers, vending machine operators and point-of-sale users, as well as the usual corporate IT contracts. NTT Communications will roll out its complete line of EIMS services in April 2000.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has issued an update of its popular integrated IT systems management solution, OpenView Manage. Version 4.21, which is priced at $4,700, provides central administrators with more tools to deal with new needs, such as mobile, handheld appliances and multimedia over Internet Protocol.
An enterprise application integration package from GE INFORMATION SERVICES, INC. forms the nucleus of affiliate INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD.'s new EIA for e-com-merce solution. GEIS's InterLinx is billed as a multipurpose integration broker that easily can link disparate business, e-commerce and electronic data interchange applications within a firm and with business partners. ISID's implementation of InterLinx will be priced from $66,700 for a license that allows five simultaneous users. The company hopes to land five EIA contracts the first year.
In another key win, PEOPLESOFT, INC. has sold its enterprise resource planning package to DAIHA-TSU MOTOR CO., LTD. Executives of the minivehicle maker hope PeopleSoft 7 will streamline eight core corporate financial operations, such as accounting and asset management, when it goes on-line in April 2001. PRICEWATERHOUSE CONSULTANTS CO. will help with installation. Daihatsu's decision to deploy PeopleSoft 7 presumably was influenced by the fact that majority owner TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. already uses this package for accounting.
INTELLUTION, INC. of Norwood, Massachusetts licensed its Paradym-31 industrial controller package to DIGITAL ELECTRONICS CORP. for use in the Osaka firm's panel computers. To be available in the spring of 2000, the $3,800 hardware/software combination will have a wide range of applications, including machine building, monitoring equipment, materials-handling and assembly.
The local unit of PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP. are selling a jointly developed enterprise product modeling solution. Based on the Waltham, Massachusetts firm's WindChill 3.0, the EPM design environment speeds product innovation and creation by improving project team coordination. Toshiba is supplying the middleware and integration know-how to link the EPM solution with legacy and current systems.
EXE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has landed a contract for its supply chain management system from distribution equipment maker TOYO KANETSU K.K. The Dallas company's Japanese operation will install the SCM package on Toyo Kanetsu's sorting and conveyor devices, allowing the Tokyo firm to automate the distribution process from materials procurement to product delivery.
SAS INSTITUTE INC. continues to give its data-base products an Internet spin. In the latest move, the Cary, North Carolina firm has linked its Enterprise Miner and other data warehouse packages with its customer relations management system, creating a CRM solution for e-commerce. The combination, SAS Institute hopes, will boost 2000 sales by its subsidiary as much as 50 percent to $57.1 million.
With wireless Web surfing booming in Japan, ORACLE CORP. has rolled out a special version of its Oracle8i Internet-enabled relational data-base system for handheld Internet appliances. By sharing processing tasks between the server and these devices, Oracle8i Lite 4.0 provides mobile users with nearly the full power of the standard RDB system. Available immediately for Windows 95/98/NT at $370 per user, a Windows CE version of Oracle8i Lite 4.0 is planned for early 2000.
The latest version of INFORMIX CORP.'s Red Brick Warehouse data warehouse is the keystone of what the Menlo Park, California firm calls its i.Economy initiative. Version 6.0, to be released by Informix's subsidiary in January 2000, easily moves data back and forth from the Internet and Internet-standard formats. It also interfaces with many popular front- end programs. Informix Red Brick Warehouse 6.0 licenses will start at $1,900 per user for the Windows NT version and at $4,800 for the Unix version.
To meet the stiffer competition in the data warehouse market, NCR CORP.'s subsidiary is restructuring its data-base operations. It is merging the retail distribution, industrial and financial groups into a single organization that will offer comprehensive RDB products and services to all customers. However, mirroring the strategy of its parent, the subsidiary will emphasize three solutions: financial self-service (automated teller machines), retail store automation and data warehousing. Globally, NCR ranks first in the ATM business and second in retail store automation, with its market positions in Japan equally high.
Belmont, Massachusetts-based BUSINESS FORECAST SYSTEMS, INC. has launched its forecasting software with the help of distributor HITACHI TOHOKU SOFTWARE, LTD. Currently available only in English but with a Japanese manual, Forecast Pro 4.0 combines artificial intelligence, graphical modeling and customizable output with a wide selection of forecasting models. The $2,900 to $19,000 system will be released in Japanese in early 2000, a move that the partners hope will pump up revenues to $95,300 a month.
Formerly the province of the military, remote-sen-sing data has become a commercially available product. To process and interpret this new information, SENSOR SYSTEMS, INC. of Sterling, Virginia is offering its Remote View Professional through an exclusive deal with MITSUBISHI CORP. Currently available only for Unix (a Windows NT version is planned), the software can import data from government and commercial sources, enhance it, display it in stereo views, and annotate and analyze the imagery. With Remote View Professional priced from just $2,900, the partners hope that FY 2000 sales will reach 1,500 packages.
Geographic information systems provider MAPINFO CORP. has upped the ante in the Japanese market through a flurry of recent moves. First, it is taking an equity stake in a leading GI provider, ALPS MAPPING CO., LTD., which had revenues of $14.3 million in 1999 and employs 110 people. The $952,400 deal will give Troy, New York- headquartered MapInfo a 16.7 percent interest in Alps Mapping. It also will invest $3.8 million in new debt instruments that eventually could be converted into a 51 percent share in the Nagoya firm. Alps Mapping will be a primary source of local geographic data and a development partner for new products and services. Second, MapInfo boosted its distribution channels from one to four, with a FUJITSU, LTD. affiliate, KIMOTO CO., LTD. of Tokyo and OSAKA GAS INFORMATION SYSTEM RESEARCH INSTITUTE joining longtime distributor MITSUI ZOSEN SYSTEMS RESEARCH, INC. Finally, MapInfo established a wholly owned subsidiary to support its enlarged distribution team and customer base.
IN-SYNC CORP. has brought its professional (nonlinear) video-editing products to local users through a pact with Tokyo's VISUAL PROCESSING JAPAN, INC. Bethesda, Maryland-based in sync's Speed Razor 4.7 and Speed Razor 4.5 SE have been localized and renamed by VPJ as RTMatch 4.7 and SEMatch 4.5. The former lists for $3,800, while the latter costs $1,400. VPJ also offers the higher-end, network RTMatch 4.7 version bundled with Windows NT hardware at prices ranging from $23,600 to $45,700.
Also in this field, TOOLFARM.COM, INC. has tied up with IMAGE AND MEASUREMENT INC. of Tokyo to begin on-line sales of graphics software. The San Francisco company brings its experience as an on-line reseller of professional graphics and image-editing software as well as its product line to the effort, while IMI will focus on marketing and localization. With a portfolio of 50 to 60 packages, Toolfarm.com hopes to pull in sales of $950,000 the first year. If all goes well, the new partners could open a joint venture after a year or two.
GETTY IMAGES, INC. will establish a company with SOFTBANK PUBLISHING INC. that will be the exclusive distributor of selected branded collections from the Seattle firm's extensive (30,000 still pictures and 15,000 hours of motion pictures) library of digital imagery. The new firm, in which Getty Images will have a 40 percent stake, will begin operations sometime in the first half of 2000. Among the collections it will handle are Tony Stone Images, PhotoDisc, EyeWire and Art.com. The content will be provided both on-line and in CD-ROM form to publishers and individuals. Getty Images' PHOTODISC, INC. subsidiary, which publishes high-resolution digital photos, already has an operation in Japan, leading to the possibility of a business tie-up between the proposed Getty Images joint venture and PhotoDisc's subsidiary.
Hoping to grab share in the market for office productivity packages at the expense of MICROSOFT CORP., the dominant player, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. plans to release a Japanese version of its StarOffice business productivity suite for the Linux open- source operating system by the summer of 2000. Besides including all the expected modules word-processing, spreadsheet, graphics, contact manager and Web browser StarOffice can import and export Microsoft Office files. To top it off, Sun Microsystems plans to offer the software for free if downloaded via the Internet or at a nominal cost for a CD-ROM.
SYMANTEC CORP.'s subsidiary is offering new versions of its popular PC utilities. Norton Utilities 2000 for Windows 95/98 provides constant data protection in the background and offers a set of updated analysis, diagnostic and optimization tools. It is priced at $95. Norton SystemWorks 2000 for Windows 95/98 bundles Norton Utilities with Norton AntiVirus, Norton CleanSweep and Norton CrashGuard for just $190. As one sign of the popularity of these products, Symantec is projecting annual sales at 400,000 copies for Norton SystemWorks 2000 and at 150,000 units for Norton Utilities 2000.
A Japanese-language version of LAPLINK.COM, INC.'s popular PC remote control package, LapLink 2000 Second Edition, is shipping. Aimed at computers running Windows 98 Second Edition, the Bothell, Washington firm's new product handles a wider range of communications options, including ISDN (integrated services digital network) and other wideband protocols. Localized and marketed by Tokyo's INTERCOM, INC., LapLink 2000 is $100 for a single license. A two-seat license goes for just $60 more.
The Japanese unit of UNISYS CORP. and two affiliates of SHOWA SEIKI CO., LTD. are working on a 3D computer-aided design package that they hope will cut in half the time and the cost of designing dies. Starting with an existing Unisys CAD package, a team of some 500 engineers drawn from the three companies is aiming to have the system finished and installed at Showa Seiki group firms by April 2001.
To simplify and broaden the use of CAD programs, SOLIDWORKS CORP. has developed a free program that takes 2D engineering drawings and turns them into 3D images on a PC. The eDrawings utility helps ensure that vendors and suppliers understand the CAD data. However, it also allows users to focus in on any part of a CAD diagram, change its viewing axis, print out specific parts and even attach hypertext links to drawings.
To showcase its new software and services, CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC., the world's electronic design automation leader, has installed its intellectual property infrastructure at OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. Combined with Oki's Silicon Platform Architecture design methodology, Cadence's IP infrastructure will allow the chip manufacturer to reuse designs more easily and efficiently. With prices starting at $750,000, the San Jose, California firm's IP-reuse solution covers know-how for packaging, cataloging, managing and storing IP cores for both analog and digital hardware as well as software for integrating components into final products.
XILINX, INC.'s subsidiary has released Japanese versions of its flagship EDA product, the Alliance and Foundation Series 2.1i. Aimed at designing FPGAs, the packages include the 2.1i versions of the Vertex line, which can handle 2-million-gate FPGAs, the high-speed Implementation Tools compiler, the CORE Generator module, the FPGA Express advanced synthesis tool from SYNOPSIS, INC. and support for the Internet Team Design add-on.
In the competing ASIC camp, MAGMA DESIGN AUTOMATION, INC.'s recently established subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 32) has landed a major contract from FUJITSU, LTD. The electronics giant will integrate the Cupertino, California firm's Blast Fusion ASIC physical design package in its 0.25-micron process technology throughout its worldwide network of design centers and teams. Blast Fusion's ability to predict accurately final timing prior to detailed physical layout in some cases cuts design times to one-sixth the previous length.
SYNOPSIS, INC. has teamed with HITACHI, LTD. to codevelop, market and support a simulation and verification system for Hitachi's SH3-DSP and SH-4 embedded microcontroller families. By converting Hitachi's processors for use with Synopsis Eagle hardware/software coverification tools, designers can improve product quality and cut design time. Those advances are possible because software can be run on hardware long before physical prototypes are completed. Among the changes the partners made were to fine-tuned the solution for mobile information appliances and intelligent home appliance designs. Pricing starts at $220,600 for a three-year license.
Also targeting the exploding market for intelligent devices, INTEGRATED SYSTEMS, INC. of Sunnyvale, California and KYOTO MICROCOMPUTER CO., LTD. have linked their products into a more complete simulation/emulation package. Kyoto Microcomputer contributed its in-circuit emulator expertise with ROMs, which ISI integrated into the debugger/compiler package created by its DIAB-SDS, INC. subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 32). The solution is designed for real-time applications based on ISI's pSOS real-time operating system for embedded systems.
HPL, INC. is marketing its yield-enhancement and defect-analysis line for IC manufacturing through CANON SALES CO., INC. The San Jose, California firm's YIELDirector series includes a parametric module to investigate yield limiters in the context of semiconductor design and process parametric sensitivity; a defect module that accepts a wide range of production data and zeros in on yield-limiting factors; and a module tailored for the particular needs of manufacturing advanced memory chips.
Building on the successful collaboration that led to SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s Locatio multipurpose mobile communications device, GEOWORKS CORP. will help the Japanese firm develop the follow-on Locatio M and Locatio S models. The focus of the new iterations will be e-commerce and wireless media services. Alameda, California-based Geoworks' Professional Service Group has been providing its expertise in wireless communications software and solutions to Seiko Epson since last May.
Catching the wave of interest in NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC.'s iMode wireless digital communications system, SOFTLINK, INC. has licensed its voice- recognition and compression know-how to TELSYS NETWORK CO., LTD. The Japanese software maker will integrate Santa Clara, California-based Softlink's eMail inChorus and eMail VOICELink products into NTT DoCoMo's menu of services, allowing users to send voice e-mail messages to PCs and other iMode phones.
LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP. also is jumping on the iMode bandwagon by offering a gateway for its popular Notes/Domino groupware. Developed in cooperation with HITACHI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD., Lotus Domino PhoneConnect r1.0 allows iMode phones to link with Domino servers and access Notes workgroup services. The product costs $12,200 for a single server/unlimited client license.
Preparing for what many observers think will be the next big consumer electronics market development, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary unveiled what it says is the first complete solution for interactive digital TV services. Based on the Oracle8i RDBMS, the Oracle Interactive TV Solution offers an end-to-end bundle of content-design tools, e-commerce modules and back-end support for huge amounts of data.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The latest addition to the steadily lengthening list of American communications carriers authorized by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to provide facilities-based services is LEVEL 3 COMMUNICATIONS, INC., the builder of the first global network optimized for Internet Protocol technology. With its Type I license, the wholly owned Tokyo subsidiary that the Broomfield, Colorado company established last July will offer international private leased circuit and international Internet access services over its own fiber-optic network. These services will start sometime after the Japan-U.S. Cable Network, in which Level 3 has a large amount of capacity, becomes operational; the launch date now is mid-2000. This undersea, fiber-optic cable system will link Level 3's Japan- based facilities to its American and European networks. As part of its move into the Internet access services area, the fast-expanding carrier will build a 64,600-square-foot gateway facility in the Minato-ku area of Tokyo that will feature state-of-the-art security and complete redundancy. Although details are sketchy, Level 3 says that this site will be the largest colocation facility in Japan. INTEL CORP. and PSINET INC. recently announced plans in the Internet services hosting field in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 33).
In the spring of 2000, one of the world's top Internet data center operators also plans to open a state-of-the-art facility in Tokyo where ISPs, content providers, e-commerce companies and corporations can colocate their servers and other Internet equipment. The project will be undertaken by the joint venture that ABOVENET COMMUNICATIONS, INC. recently formed with MARUBENI CORP. (50 percent) and TRANS COSMOS INC. (10 percent). ABOVENET JAPAN K.K. has selected a site in Tokyo's Nihonbashi area for its approximately $19.1 million, 32,300-square-foot Internet service exchange facility, where customers will have direct connections to the San Jose, California company's global optical IP network. AboveNet Communications is a subsidiary of METROMEDIA FIBER NETWORK, INC., which is building fiber-optic local loops in major metropolitan markets across the United States.
The company that bills itself as the pioneer of Internet data centers used an acquisition to advance into Japan's Internet services hosting business. For an undisclosed price, EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS, INC. bought Tokyo's GLOBAL ONLINE JAPAN CO., LTD. Established in 1994, GOL provides Internet access, mainly to individuals, and a range of services, including Internet hosting, Web design and e-commerce solutions. Revenues for the year through March 1999 totaled $6.9 million. GOL maintains peering arrangements with 38 other domestic ISPs. The Japanese company's team of more than 80 professionals will form the nucleus of EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS, K.K., the Santa Clara, California firm's wholly owned subsidiary, while its Tokyo data center will enable Exodus Communications to provide Web-site hosting and a range of managed and professional services. Exodus Communications currently has 16 Internet data centers in the United States and Europe.
SPEEDNET INC. the company that MICROSOFT CORP., SOFTBANK CORP. and TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC. equally formed to deliver low-cost, fast Internet access to homes in the Tokyo metropolitan area (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 28) has five additional backers. Through a third-party share allocation that raised a total of $1.7 million, YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. now owns 5 percent of SpeedNet. The other investors, each of which has a 0.5 percent stake, are: GLOBAL CROSSING LTD., HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC., KDD CORP. and TOKYO TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORK CO., INC.
MICROSOFT CORP. is exploring other broadband options for delivering its products and services to homes as well as to businesses in Japan. As in the United States and elsewhere, cable TV networks are near the top of its list, even though only an estimated 17 percent of Japanese homes subscribe to cable service. Microsoft's immediate way to gain access to this channel reportedly is to buy MEDIAONE GROUP, INC.'s 60 percent share of TITUS COMMUNICATIONS CORP. Japan's number-two CATV operator, the money-losing, four-year-old company serves about 80,000 customers in the Tokyo area as well as in Hokkaido, Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures, offering them not only TV programming but also cable-based Internet and telephone services (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 37). MediaOne might be interested in selling its stake in Titus to Microsoft simply because AT&T CORP., which plans to buy the Englewood, Colorado-based cable operator, has said that it would shed the company's international operations. MediaOne's partners in Titus are ITOCHU CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP., each with a 20 percent interest.
The ability of CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC. to meet the requirements of the Seirei Gakuen Educational Organization for infrastructure that will enable the big health-care training facility to support multimedia education landed the Rochester, New Hampshire network equipment supplier a major contract. The Hamamatsu, Shizuoka prefecture organization ordered Cabletron's high-performance, Layer 4 SmartSwitch Router 8000. Among the uses envisioned for this hardware, which provides wire-speed Gigabit routing to back high- band-width applications, are to allow students to have access to the Internet and to the campus-wide LAN regardless of where their PCs are located and to prepare for upcoming classes by remotely viewing lecture notes and materials.
With steady growth expected in the market for videoconferencing, especially distance learning, GENERAL DATACOMM, INC. signed OMRON CORP. to distribute its GDC APEX ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) wide area network switches and MAC 500 ATM video access concentrators for these applications. Omron, which has some large-scale videoconferencing trials underway in the Tokyo area, will integrate the Middlebury, Connecticut manufacturer's multiservice ATM products with radio-wave transmitter systems from HARMONIX CORP. of North Andover, Massachusetts. The combination, the Japanese company says, will deliver advanced but lower-cost video and data capabilities to customers.
The team of 3COM CORP. and HITACHI, LTD. has commercialized a Japan-only IP gateway system in an attempt to offer local exchange carriers a solution for the increasing problem of system overload caused by expanding dial-up access to the Internet. The Hitachi IP Gateway System SG8000, which incorporates 3Com's server expertise and its partner's exchange technology, does this in simplified terms by segregating the Internet traffic from regular telephone calls carried over the same lines and making the Internet connection directly via dedicated lines.
Carriers and network services providers looking for ways to more efficiently and profitably meet the requirements of their broadband customers, whether businesses or individuals, have two new options in REDBACK NETWORKS INC.'s flagship family of Subscriber Management Systems. The Sunnyvale, California company's SMS 500 and SMS 1000 are designed to bridge the operations gap between the high-speed access equipment installed in central telephone, cable or wireless offices and the backbone routers that network services providers use. To prevent this equipment from creating bottlenecks in high-speed networks, the SMS 500 and the SMS 1000, which network services providers deploy at points of presence, take the incoming high-speed data traffic and "groom" it for the backbone routers. Redback Networks tapped TERILOGY CO., LTD. to distribute its SMS line, which in Japan is priced at $47,600 (the SMS 500) or at $95,200 (the SMS 1000).
MIRAPOINT, INC., the inventor of the Internet e-mail server appliance, has given an ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. affiliate marketing rights to a router that can filter out computer viruses contained in e-mail messages a potent defense against attacks. The $52,400-and-up system, which can handle more than a million messages a day and is said to be extremely easy to set up and operate, is designed for ISPs and companies that provide e-mail outsourcing. The Itochu Techno-Science unit estimates that it can sell 500 of the virus-blocking servers in 2000. NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP., an investor in Mirapoint (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 11), markets other products in the Cupertino, California firm's line of dedicated messaging appliances.
Just because it is the dominant world supplier of the equipment behind the Internet revolution does not mean that CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. is satisfied with its position in any particular market or segment. In Japan, the company hopes to strengthen its standing in the low-end router business by localizing the Cisco 800 series. These routers link small offices and corporate telecommuters to the Internet or to the corporate LAN via ISDN, digital subscriber line or various serial connections. At the same time, the Cisco 800 series enables network services providers to deliver such value-added services as secure Internet access, VPNs or managed data network services.
For just $150, Japanese mobile computer users who travel to any one of 60 foreign countries can be assured of hassle-free connections to the Internet or the corporate intranet. That capability is possible with the RealPort CardBus Modem 56-GlobalACCESS from XIRCOM, INC.'s subsidiary.
With communications expenses so high in Japan, RAMP NETWORKS, INC. believes a strong market exists among small companies and branch office for its latest IP faxing solution. Like other products in the Santa Clara, California company's line, the WebRamp 200Fx is designed to complement standard fax machines. Connected to one of them, the WebRamp 200Fx converts paper faxes into electronic documents that can be transmitted through the Internet to PCs as e-mail messages or to regular fax machines connected to another Web-Ramp. Either way, customers can send faxes anywhere for the cost of a local phone call. MACNICA, INC., which helped Ramp Networks design the WebRamp 200Fx for the local market, is distributing the device under a spring agreement (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, pp. 35-36).
Offering secure, on-line banking is the latest way that the subsidiary of WEBTV NETWORKS INC. hopes to attract elusive subscribers for its TV set-based Internet access service (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 33). The Internet banking option will be available to BANK OF TOKYO-MITSU-BISHI, LTD. customers who sign up for WebTV. The near-term goal of WebTV Networks, which is owned by MICROSOFT CORP., is to have 100,000 subscribers in Japan. How many it now has was not disclosed.
Subscribers to the cdmaOne digital cellular communications services offered by DDI CORP., Japan's number-two cellular services provider, and IDO CORP. will have access to the Internet at speeds of up to 64 kilobits per second starting in January 2000. This capability was installed by MOTOROLA INC., the builder and the infrastructure equipment supplier for the CDMA digital cellular networks owned and operated by DDI and IDO as well as the power behind their earlier cellular systems. Motorola's high-speed wireless Internet access technology is unique in that it uses cost-saving packet data switching. The hardware implementation of this advance was jointly developed by Motorola and 3COM CORP.
A small (9-inch), high-performance millimeter-wave customer premise antenna developed by ENDGATE CORP. will enable TOSHIBA CORP. to roll out in major urban areas high- speed Internet access systems based on broadband wireless technology. Significantly, the Sunnyvale, California company was able to design, fabricate and test the antenna in just three weeks, thanks to its in-house expertise and an incredibly powerful computer built by Endgate engineers. The antenna will allow corporate subscribers to the Toshiba service to connect with the local switching office or Internet access point at broadband frequencies rather than at the far slower speeds available with today's typical wireline infrastructure.
SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s innovative Locatio mobile communications device a combination personal digital assistant, wireless phone, personal navigator and digital camera and the supporting i-Point network infrastructure use global positioning system technology from TRIMBLE NAVIGATION LTD. for their locational capabilities. Locatio is the first consumer implementation of the Sunnyvale, California firm's new GPS architecture for power-sensitive communications devices. Trimble also supplied its server technology for the i-Point network to improve the accuracy of the user's position as well as to speed initial GPS signal acquisition.
With the launch of next-generation (3G), high-bandwidth digital wireless services on the horizon in Japan, CONDUCTUS, INC. decided that the timing was right to move into the market. A manufacturer of superconductor-based filters, the Sunnyvale, California company selected SEKI TECHNOTRON CORP. as the exclusive representative of its ClearSite line. These prod-ucts, which mate cryogenically cooled, low-noise amplifiers with the superconducting filters, expand coverage, reduce radio-frequency interference and increase capacity for wireless networks, regardless of generation. RF interference is a particular problem in Japan for operators of wireless systems.
In the latest expansion of its two-way radio lineup, MOTOROLA INC.'s subsidiary released a pair of multiservice products. The lightweight but ruggedized GP328 and GP338 give users one-touch access to members of various talkgroups as well as the convenience of regular telephone calls. Among other features, the output power of both products can be varied to fit the calling environment. Moreover, they run off of four different types of batteries, including lithium-ion ones. Equal-ly important, the two products can be used on the move.
The marketing unit of videoconferencing equipment leader PICTURETEL CORP. introduced new versions of two of its network systems. The top-of-the-line PictureTel Montage 6.1 Multilocation Server is designed specifically for large, reservation-based video networks and multipoint service operations. In particular, it can connect up to 48 sites in any number of conferences. PictureTel would argue, though, that the main strength of the Montage 6.1, which is priced at $61,000, is its flexible architecture. Organizations interested in a more affordable videoconferencing tool yet one capable of linking up to eight sites have the option of the $25,800 PictureTel Prism 6.1 Workgroup Conferencing Server.
In a potentially powerful pairing, HUGHES ELECTRONICS CORP. and NIPPON TELEVISION NETWORK CORP. have agreed to explore business opportunities in the fields of multimedia and communi-cations. Indicative of the seriousness of the search, the two formed an equally owned company in Tokyo to conduct feasibility studies. What Hughes and NTV specialists detailed to this company are looking for are opportunities that combine the American company's expertise in satellite-based services and technologies with the Japanese firm's strength in broadcast programming and content. Among its other distinctions, Hughes is the world's largest digital satellite broadcaster through its various DirecTV operations. For its part, NTV is Japan's top commercial broadcaster with 29 affiliated stations. Industry sources speculate that a Japan-based interactive TV business is a leading candidate for a Hughes-NTV joint venture.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
REFLECTIVE TECHNOLOGIES, INC. gave ITOCHU CORP. the exclusive right to import and sell its safety-enhancing illumiNITE reflective fabric. The process developed by the Cambridge, Massachusetts company treats the entire surface of a roll of fabric with a reflective coating that yields attractive activewear or outerwear for daytime use but that creates a silhouette image of the wearer at dawn, dusk or night. Itochu will market illumiNITE to manufacturers of activewear and outerwear, aiming for sales of $952,400 in the first year and $4.8 million in the third.
Although not the best-known of its varied businesses, PLAYBOY ENTERPRISES, INC. markets a large collection of Playboy-brand clothing and accessories. Many of these items will be available in Japan starting with a fall/winter 2000 line under a master licensing deal that the Chicago-headquartered firm signed with MITSUI & CO., LTD. The agreement authorizes the trader to manage the production, sale and distribution of such products as sportswear, activewear, underwear, bags, small leather goods and costume jewelry to department stores and other outlets. Mitsui also will open freestanding Playboy boutiques to better reach the target Playboy audience trend-conscious, 18-to-30-year-old men and women. The first Playboy boutique should be operational in the fall of 2001. Mitsui expects to build the Playboy clothing and accessories brand into a $95.2 million business over three years.
In a transaction that raised $25 million in cash, strapped athletic footwear manufacturer and marketer CONVERSE INC. sold all of its nonfootwear trademarks in Japan to ITOCHU CORP. An affiliate of the trader had been a Converse licensee for several sportswear and accessory products since 1993. The North Reading, Massachusetts company said that it planned no changes in its Japanese footwear operations.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The most visible sign to date of the much-touted design and development collaboration between FORD MOTOR CO. and its MAZDA MOTOR CORP. affiliate is a 1.5-liter to 2.0-liter in-line engine family for 2001-model-year and beyond small Ford cars and light trucks. The new engine family, which Ford says delivers a "spirited" performance, features lightweight construction, state-of-the-art technological versatility and a flexible fuel capability. The world's number-two automotive maker estimates that by 2004, global annual production of these engines could total 2 million units, or roughly one-fourth of Ford's yearly engine output. The family will be built at Ford's engine plants in Dearborn, Michigan, Chihuahua, Mexico and Valencia, Spain. Mazda also will manufacture the engine series at an annual rate of approximately 425,000 units starting in the fall of 2001. A new production line will be installed at one of its Hiroshima plants for this purpose.
In advance of the expected early 2001 introduction of SATURN CORP.'s midsize L-Series sedans and wagons in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 36), the company's subsidiary signed its first marketing agreement covering northern Honshu. TOHOKU MITSUBISHI AUTOMOBILE SALES CO., LTD. will open a Saturn-exclusive dealership in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, its headquarters, sometime in 2000. Previously, Saturn had enlisted 17 dealer organizations that sell its products at 22 Saturn-only stores.
By 2004, TEXTRON AUTOMOTIVE CO., a major manufacturer of instrument panels, plastic fuel tanks, plastic interior and exterior trim products, and functional components, hopes to be doing more than $300 million worth of business with Japanese automotive makers. In 1998, the Troy, Michigan firm's sales to Japan-headquartered vehicle builders totaled only about $120 million, and most of this volume came from their North American and European operations. To help it reach its target, Textron Automotive opened a sales and engineering service facility in Yokohama that will be staffed by 12 people. In-country design-in capabilities and engineering support, the parts supplier believes, will give it a better chance of winning contracts if not for cars and trucks built in Japan, then for products manufactured overseas.
GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., the world's top maker of aircraft engines, is in talks with ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CO., LTD. and fellow aircraft engine builder ISHIKAWAJIMA- HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. about forming a company in Japan to service plane engines. Handling maintenance of the 400-plus GE engines installed on the planes flown by ANA and its offshoots would give the prospective partners a ready-made source of business. This work currently is done in-house by ANA, but Japan's number-two carrier envisions the proposed joint venture, in which GE reportedly would have a majority interest, as a way to cut costs. Moreover, the three companies see opportunities for servicing engines for Japan's upstart airlines and for East Asian carriers that do not have their own maintenance facilities in the country. A final decision on a tie-up is expected before spring 2000.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a $952,400 or so demonstration of its continued determination to boost its paltry business in Japan, big flat glass maker GUARDIAN INDUSTRIES CORP. will build a processing facility in Yokohama in the spring of 2000. Like the Auburn Hills, Michigan firm's existing plant in Nagoya, the new location will cut glass to customers' specifications and then ship it out to the Tokyo-area client. The glass that Guardian sells in Japan comes mainly from its factory in Thailand. The firm has taken some steps both big and small in recent years in an attempt to break the stranglehold that its three Japanese rivals have on the domestic flat glass market (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 35).
TENNECO INC., one of America's most diversified manufacturers, concluded that its future in Japan lies mainly in automotive parts, particularly its sizable shock absorber business. Consequently, the Houston-headquartered conglomerate's big Tenneco Packaging operation sold its 60 percent stake in HEXAJAPAN CO., LTD. Formed in 1997 with minority partner TOMEN CORP., this Tokyo-based company sells packaging materials, mostly to automotive and consumer electronics manufacturers. Cardboard maker ASAHI SHIGYO CO., LTD. bought Tenneco Packaging's interest for an undisclosed price.
The upscale line of furniture designed by POLO RALPH LAUREN CORP. is available in Japan for the first time. Furniture retailer OTSUKA KAGU, LTD. is selling about 90 pieces, including sofas, dining room tables and chairs, and lamps, as well as fabrics at a Ralph Lauren Furniture Gallery in its Tokyo showroom, the largest furniture store in Japan. Ralph Lauren sofas are priced from $4,500, while the company's dining room tables go for $4,000 and up.
MHW approved for marketing FEMALE HEALTH CO.'s condom for women. Under a fall 1997 tie-up, TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. will be responsible for marketing and distributing the Chicago company's polyurethane-based product. The midsize drug firm expects to start sales under the Myfemy brand name in the first half of 2000. In anticipation of this launch, Taiho Pharmaceutical ordered 2.5 million condoms from Female Health.
QUINTILES TRANSNATIONAL CORP., a big provider of contract pharmaceutical services related to drug development, sales and marketing, will offer through its subsidiary training for people interested in jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. The affiliate of the Research Triangle Park, North Carolina company is on track to do about $30 million worth of business in 1999. By expanding into the training field, it thinks that revenues could double in 2000.
Japanese executives looking for a job or a different position have a new tool available. Executive search firm FUTURESTEP INC., a unit of leading headhunter KORN/FERRY INTERNATIONAL INC., opened a subsidiary to offer its unique Internet-based search services to management professionals, especially middle managers. Interested job- seekers complete a 200-ques-tion form so that skill and personality profiles of them can be developed. When Futurestep clients have openings, the firm searches its data base for appropriate matches.
Manhattan's OMNICOM GROUP INC., one of the world's biggest advertising agencies, has increased its ownership of I&S CORP. to 49 percent from 40 percent. An Omnicom affiliate acquired an initial stake of 20 percent in what now is Japan's seventh-largest ad agency in April 1998 and then doubled its interest the following August. In becoming I&S's top shareholder, Omnicom bought a 6.55 percent interest in the firm from members of the Saison Group and a 2.45 percent share from firms associated with the publisher of Yomiuri Shimbun.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.