The undisputed global leader in polyester films is in business with a dedicated manufacturing, marketing and technical presence in all regions of the world. The result of the integration of the polyester film operations of TEIJIN LTD. in Japan and Indonesia with those of longtime partner E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. in the United States, Scotland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China, the equally owned joint venture has the capacity to turn out more than 300,000 tons of value-added products a year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 2). It has some 4,000 employees and anticipates annual revenues on the order of $1.4 billion. Production and research facilities in the United States are in Circleville, Ohio, the location of a former Teijin-DuPont polyester film plant; Hopewell and Spruance, Virginia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Old Hickory, Tennessee; and Wilmington, Delaware.
KURARAY CO., LTD. and ROGERS CORP. have agreed to commercialize a new type of electronic circuit material that promises to enable the manufacture of smaller, lighter and faster interconnections a valuable attribute for next-generation wireless communications products and data transmission applications. The focus of the tie-up is liquid crystalline polymer-based laminate technology. Kuraray has developed a production process that eliminates many of the previous technical hurdles to the use of LCP-based electronic circuit materials in that its technology allows uniform extrusion of LCP resin into circuit-grade films. The Japanese chemical company and its Rogers, Connecticut-head-quartered partner, a producer of specialty materials, are providing samples of the LCP-based circuit materials to customers for evaluation.
In an unusual move for a trading company, TOMEN CORP. is providing financial backing to a team of scientists at Harvard University's medical school working on a more effective blood-clotting preventative. The thrombolytic agent is based on a mutant of prourokinase, which easily converts to urokinase in plasma and triggers bleeding in some patients. The M5 molecule being investigated by the Harvard team, which also discovered prourokinase, is stable in plasma and, thus, does not produce an adverse reaction. Tomen will cover the research and development costs of the multistage program in exchange for exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the resulting thrombolytic drug and a half ownership interest in the M5 molecule.
A fourth major Japanese pharmaceutical company has contracted to use QUARK BIOTECH, INC.'s pathology-specific gene discovery know-how to find the culprits associated with various diseases (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 3). SHIONOGI & CO., LTD. tapped the Pleasanton, California company to discover, identify and analyze genes associated with osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease for which no remedies currently exist. It then will attempt to develop treatment and diagnostic candidates based on these genes. Shionogi will have exclusive marketing rights in Asia to any resulting products; elsewhere, it and Quark will share distribution responsibilities.
Hoping to fill its new drug pipeline faster in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, FUJISAWA PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. entered into a drug discovery collaboration with ARENA PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. The new partners are focusing on what are called orphan G protein-coupled receptors. Using the San Diego, California biopharmaceutical company's CART Technology, they will be able to directly identify modulators of these receptors. The Japanese drug firm will decide which receptors to investigate further, with Arena then developing appropriate screening assays. Although financial details were not released, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical will make license and milestone payments to Arena as well as pay royalties on sales of any products that emerge from leads discovered during the partnership.
In a similar pairing, KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. will tap the genomics expertise of SYNAPTIC PHARMACEUTICAL CORP. to identify and develop drugs that act through novel receptors. The Parmus, New Jersey firm brings to this job its cDNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) library normalization technology, which it says facilitates the discovery of receptor genes not found with commercially available cDNA libraries. Discovered receptors will be assayed using Synaptic's Universal Functional Assay. The project will run for three years, during which time Kissei Pharmaceutical will provide research funding to Synaptic as well as make licensing and milestone payments. Royalty payments also will be due on any drugs that are commercialized. The Japanese partner will have exclusive worldwide rights to use selected receptors resulting from the collaboration to develop, make and market drugs that operate through these channels. The disease targets of interest to Kissei Pharmaceutical were not disclosed.
KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. and MEDAREX, INC., which separately have developed genetically engineered mice that contain human genes for making antibodies, forged a global alliance to advance the technology for creating fully human monoclonal antibodies. In exchange for up-front fees of $12 million, Kirin will have exclusive rights to distribute its Princeton, New Jersey collaborator's HuMAb-Mouse technology in Asia. At the same time, Medarex will be the sole marketer outside Asia of Kirin's Transchromosomic Mouse. Equally important, each company will be able to use the other's technology for in-house development of human antibody-based products for the treatment of cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, autoimmune disease and other serious conditions. Of significance as well, Kirin and Medarex plan to meld their respective technologies in an attempt to create a new approach to the development of fully human antibodies.
TAP PHARMACEUTICALS INC. submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for Spectracef (cefditoren pivoxil) to treat respiratory tract infections. The Deerfield, Illinois firm, equally owned by TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. and ABBOTT LABORATORIES, licensed the broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic from MEIJI SEIKA KAISHA, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 2). TAP Pharmaceuticals believes that the potency of Spectracef will enable it to fight bacterial infections that show increasing resistance to some other types of antibiotics.
The FDA approved for U.S. marketing a treatment commercialized by SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. in cooperation with NIPPON KAYAKU CO., LTD. for the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome. This problem, which largely affects women, causes inflammation of the glands that produce tears and salvia. Snow Brand's remedy, Cevimelin, is a selective agonist that stimulates tear and salivary production. DAIICHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.'s Fort Lee, New Jersey subsidiary expects to launch sales of Cevimelin at the end of March. It is projecting sales of $200 million over five years. Cevimelin is the first Snow Brand product to be sold in the United States.
CALPIS CO., LTD. has decided to exploit the money-making potential of its world-renown lactic acid bacteria fermentation technology by licensing it to foreign companies. MONSANTO CO. is the first firm to negotiate an agreement for what Calpis calls Lactotripeptide. The license allows the biotechnology giant to use the know-how for nutritional foods other than beverages an application that the Japanese firm intends to develop on its own and for yogurt and other products containing active cultures. For now, Monsanto's license is limited to North America, although its marketing territory will be expanded in time. This is the second U.S.-related deal that Calpis has concluded in recent months. Previously, it gave an ITOCHU CORP. company the right to market its Calsporin feed additive (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 7).
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The inaugural products from NEC COMPUTERS, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 3) were a pair of Express5800 servers for workgroups and departments. In the hope of making the Express5800/120Ld and the Express5800/120Mc2 stand out in the crowded American server marketplace, the company is touting their advances in the areas of processor (support for Pentium III processors up to 733 MHz with a 133-MHz front-side bus), memory (as much as 4 gigabytes of high-performance 133-MHz ECC (error checking and correcting) synchronous DRAM (dynamic random access memory) and input/output performance (seven free I/O slots). NEC Computers also points to the increased configuration flexibility, enhanced availability features and integrated remote management capabilities of its new servers. The Express5800/120Ld for workgroups starts at slightly more than $2,300, while its departmental counterpart, the dual processor-capable Express5800/120Mc2, lists for $2,700 and up.
The third generation of VAIO Slimtop desktop computers was scheduled to ship in February. The stylish SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. VAIO PCV-L630, which is said to take up 70 percent less space than standard desktop machines, is optimized for digital video editing with its built-in Memory Stick media slot and integrated iLINK ports. This thrust is backstopped by a 600E-MHz Pentium III processor, 128 megabytes of SDRAM standard and a 17-GB hard drive. The new VAIO Slimtop model also features a larger 15- inch active-matrix TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) screen with a XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The VAIO PCV-L630 has an estimated street price of $2,700.
People interested in digital imaging but at a lower price point $1,500 to $2,600 than the latest VAIO Slimtop model have three new VAIO Digital Studio desktop options from SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. These additions span the entry-level PCV-R545DS with a 500E-MHz Pentium III processor and a 20-GB hard drive, the midrange PCV-R547DS, which runs off a 600E-MHz Pentium III and can store 27 GB of data, and the high-end PCV-R549DS featuring a 750-MHz implementation of the Pentium III and a gigantic 40 GB of hard-drive capacity. All three models are equipped with 128 MB of SDRAM memory, plus more multimedia capabilities and new hardware extras.
The Computer Systems Group of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC., the subsidiary of the world's leading supplier of portable computers, added two models to its Satellite line of notebooks aimed at value-conscious customers. The Satellite 1605CDS features a 450-MHz AMD K6-2 processor with 3DNow! technology, 32 MB of SDRAM memory and a 12.1-inch dual-scan Color Bright display. The Satellite 1625CDT leverages the power of a 475-MHz version of the processor and comes standard with 64 MB of SDRAM and a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT LCD display. Common to both systems are a 4.3-GB hard drive, a diskette drive and a 24X CD-ROM (compact disc- read-only memory) drive. The Satellite 1605CDS is expected to go for $1,200, while the estimated price of the Satellite 1625CDT is $1,600.
Catering to business professionals with a variety of high-performance and multimedia computing requirements, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. unveiled a pair of additions to its VAIO F Series of notebooks. The VAIO PCG-F450 uses a 500-MHz mobile Pentium III processor and provides 9 GB of hard-drive storage, while its mate, the VAIO PCG-F430, employs a 450-MHz implementation of the chip and delivers 6 GB of data capacity. The basic configuration of each has 64 MB of SDRAM memory, a 4X DVD-ROM drive with digital video disc movie playback capability, a 14.1-inch XGA active-matrix display and the many high-end features associated with the VAIO line, such as an iLink port. The VAIO PCG-F450 has an estimated selling price of $2,800; that of the VAIO PCG-F430 is $2,400.
On the heels of this release, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. announced its first notebook computers incorporating mobile Pentium III processors with INTEL CORP.'s SpeedStep technology. These chips allow the machines to automatically switch between a battery- optimized mode and, when plugged in, a maximum performance mode. The VAIO PCG- F490 employs a 650-MHz mobile Pentium III to power demanding multimedia applications. It ships with 128 MB of SDRAM, an 18.1-GB hard drive, 6 MB of video RAM and a 15-inch XGA active-matrix display. The price of this notebook is about $3,800. Some $500 less buys the VAIO PCG-F480 with its 600-MHz mobile Pentium III processor, 64 MB of internal memory, 12-GB hard drive and the same display as its cousin.
SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. also is bringing out the first notebook computer with a CD- ReWritable drive standard. This innovation is found on the VAIO PCG-XG19, which also features a 650-MHz mobile Pentium III processor with SpeedStep technology, 128 MB of SDRAM memory, 18.1 GB of hard drive capacity, 6 MB of VRAM, a 14.1-inch XGA active-matrix display and hot-swappable multidrive bays. Its partner, the VAIO PCG-X18 shares all these characteristics except that it has a 13.3-inch display. One difference between these systems and members of the VAIO F Series is that they are thinner (1.75 inches) and lighter (about 6 pounds). The two VAIO XG notebooks are expected to go for $4,000 and $3,600, respectively.
Like its competitors, FUJITSU PC CORP. believes that the new mobile Pentium III processors with SpeedStep technology virtually eliminate the performance gap between desktop and mobile computers. This advancement is incorporated in the LifeBook E Series Model E-6550, which is optimized for business applications, and the home-oriented LifeBook C Series Model C-6557. Both notebooks use a mobile Pentium III processor running at 650 MHz and include 128 MB of RAM, a 12-GB hard drive, a modular DVD drive, a built-in modem, an infrared mouse and a 14.1-inch XGA active-matrix TFT LCD display.
People looking for an extremely mobile computing platform have additional choices in the MobilePro line of handheld PCs from NEC COMPUTERS, INC. The MobilePro 780, which runs the Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition 3.01 operating system, uses NEC CORP.'s 168-MHz VR4121 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processor. The system weighs only 1.7 pounds and measures 9.6 x 5.2 x 1.1 inches, yet it has an 8.1-inch color, touch-sensitive display with a resolution of 640 x 240 pixels and a 78-key keyboard. Other hardware features include 32 MB of RAM memory, a built-in modem and Type II CompactFlash and Type II PC Card slots. A long list of Windows CE software also is bundled with the $800 MobilePro 780.
Bankrupt MITA INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., a manufacturer of printer products as well as copiers, has reemerged under the ownership of KYOCERA CORP. as KYOCERA MITA CORP. In the United States, the renamed KYOCERA MITA AMERICA, INC., headquartered in Fairfield, New Jersey, will continue to be responsible for sales and servicing of its immediate parent's document imaging products. It will operate separately from KYOCERA ELECTRONICS, INC., the Duluth, Georgia marketer of the Ecosys line of page printers.
For the first time, owners of current-generation Power Macintosh G3 and Power Macintosh G4 computers can take advantage of the high-speed FireWire (IEEE 1394) capabilities of their machines when printing. The Long Beach, California subsidiary of SEIKO EPSON CORP. is offering an optional interface card that enables these desktop computers to run selected Epson printers at their full engine speed and that also allows multiple users to share printers. FireWire printing is possible with the EPSON Stylus Color 900, EPSON Stylus Color 900G, EPSON Stylus Color 1520, EPSON Stylus Color 3000, EPSON Stylus Pro 5000 and EPSON Stylus Pro 9000.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
For the past two years or so, big industrial control systems player GE FANUC AUTOMATION NORTH AMERICA, INC. has supplemented internal growth with acquisitions (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 5). Its latest purchase adds GAGETALKER CORP. The Kirkland, Washington company provides flexible hardware, software and service products designed to help manufacturers monitor and control the performance of their production equipment and products during the manufacturing cycle. GE Fanuc officials see considerable complementaries between the CimWorks GageTalker hardware and software lines and their firm's OpenFactory CNCs (computer numerical controls), CIMPLICITY software and general automation products. Charlottesville, Virginia-headquar-tered GE Fanuc is a 14-year-old joint venture between FANUC LTD., the dominant world supplier of CNCs, and GENERAL ELECTRIC CO.
In 1998, HITACHI COMPUTER PRODUCTS (AMERICA), INC. moved into contract manufacturing, producing printed circuit boards and other electronic equipment for small but growing companies in a variety of fields. That business has expanded so much that the Norman, Oklahoma subsidiary of HITACHI, LTD. is investing $3 million to add a third assembly line and to upgrade another. The new capacity will become operational sometime in the first half of 2000. It will create 50 or so jobs. More than 260 people already work at the factory, which started off in 1987 making disk drives and related electronic products for other Hitachi companies.
KYOCERA CORP. netted $280 million from the sale of 5.25 million of the shares that it owns in AVX CORP., a major manufacturer of multilayer ceramic capacitors and related passive electronic components. The divestiture trimmed Kyocera's ownership of the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina-based company to approximately 70 percent from 75 percent. It will use the proceeds to cover losses caused by the write-off of bad loans by a leasing company subsidiary in Japan and by the collapse of the IRIDIUM LLC global satellite telephone and paging venture (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 9). AVX, which has plants in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Bideford, Maine, Olean, New York, Conway, South Carolina and at headquarters as well as overseas, has been a Kyocera company since 1990.
The Temecula, California subsidiary of TAMURA CORP., which supplies such magnetic components as audio, power and telecommunications transformers, coils and inductors, opened a telecommunications and data communications magnetic design center at headquarters. The engineers and technicians on staff will focus on magnetics for xDSL (digital subscriber line), ISDN (integrated services digital network), LAN (local area network) and other existing and emerging communications technologies. TAMURA CORP. OF AMERICA has a factory in Valley Stream, New York, the result of a fall 1994 acquisition.
The details still are sketchy, but PIONEER CORP. plans to open a R&D facility in the United States this spring to ensure that it remains on top of technical developments in the emerging field of networked digital audio-visual home entertainment products. Initially, the primary mission of the center, which will be staffed by approximately 10 researchers dispatched from Japan, will be to collect information. In time, though, its mandate could be expanded to include forging ties with promising U.S. start-ups in the networking and software fields. Long Beach, California, the home of PIONEER NORTH AMERICA, INC., reportedly is the leading contender for the new R&D unit. .....The disclosure of this pending move followed the announcement that PIONEER CORP. and 14 other companies had joined the HAVi (home audio-video interoperability) Organization. Eight consumer electronics multinationals including HITACHI, LTD., MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., SHARP CORP., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP. formed this group last November after working together for more than two years to develop specifications for a digital home entertainment networking architecture. The other Japanese companies joining the HAVi Organization were: KENWOOD CORP., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., SEIKO EPSON CORP. and a YASKAWA ELECTRIC CORP. affiliate. SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC., the promoter of the Jini home-networking standard, also is a new member.
SONY CORP. has won the backing of two leaders in the delivery of music over the Internet for its electronic music distribution technologies the ATRAC3 sound- compression format and the OpenMG copyright-protection technology. For its part, REALNETWORKS, INC. will integrate support for Sony's music technologies into its RealJukebox software, which allows consumers to play, record, organize and search for music on the Internet from a single PC interface. By this summer, it is expected, users of the Seattle company's free service will be able to easily download and securely transfer music to Sony's portable audio players, such as the Memory Stick Walkman and the VAIO Music Clip, through ATRAC3 and OpenMG. .....Likewise, LIQUID AUDIO, INC., the other big provider of software and services for the digital delivery of music over the Internet, agreed to integrate SONY CORP.'s OpenMG copyright-protection technology so that music downloaded via the Redwood City, California firm's Liquid System can be securely played back on Sony's portable audio players. The Liquid System also will support ATRAC3 as a primary sound-compression format, making it possible for users of the Liquid Player to quickly download ATRAC3 music content directly to their PCs.
Meanwhile, both SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. are working with LIQUID AUDIO, INC. to ensure that their forthcoming portable digital audio products are compatible with Liquid Music. The collaboration gives the two consumer electronics companies access to a large selection of digital music more than 50,000 tracks from 1,000 different labels. It also guarantees copyright protection of downloads and playbacks by technology that meets Secure Digital Music Initiative standards.
The first of what SONY CORP. is calling personal video recorders should be in stores in the first quarter of this year. These hard-drive-equipped devices, which are based on technology licensed from TIVO INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 5), will allow consumers to personalize the television viewing experience. They will be able to store about 30 hours of programming. The Sony product will cost roughly 20 percent less than initially expected, or approximately $400. The consumer electronics giant has a 7.5 percent stake in Sunnyvale, California-based TiVo.
The Sony-TiVo personal video recorders will be going up against similar devices from MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. dubbed hard disk recorders that incorporate REPLAY NETWORKS, INC.'s technology (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 6). Now, the Mountain View, California-based company has the backing of a second major Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer. SHARP CORP. licensed the ReplayTV platform for a line of branded digital video recorder products. Beyond saying that buyers would receive a free lifetime subscription to the basic ReplayTV service, however, Sharp released no details about its device or when it might be available.
SONY CORP. has previewed its third portable audio player capable of playing back music downloaded from the Internet via a PC. However, unlike the Memory Stick Walkman and the VAIO Music Clip, which use the company's so-called memory stick technology, the cigarette lighter-size Network Walkman employs conventional flash memory. Its 64 MB of capacity can store about an hour's worth of CD-quality music. The Network Walkman should arrive in the United States in April.
Whether because of the price of the equipment or the shortage of programming, digital television sets still are a product waiting to take off in the United States. Japan's consumer electronics giants, though, keep trying to entice buyers. For instance, HITACHI, LTD. previewed for the first time in the United States an all-digital, large-screen, high-definition, rear-projection set. One of the innovations of the UltraVision Digital/DLP, which will be in stores in the fall of 2000, is the use of TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s digital light technology (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, pp. 18-19). The combination of the two companies' expertise, Hitachi says, will deliver maximum picture performance including a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, a screen brightness five times greater than that of a large-tube set and a contrast ratio of 500:1 plus excellent motion video.
Coming in the fourth quarter of 2000 from SHARP CORP.'s Mahwah, New Jersey marketing unit will be what it bills as the industry's first 28-inch LCD high-definition display. This ultrathin product, the LC-28HD1, is the first from the company to provide full 720P high-definition native display resolution the same capability that will be available with the Hitachi-branded TV set. Among the display's attributes, according to Sharp, is extremely clear viewing of a wide range of digital video sources, including DVDs and PCs as well as high-definition TV signals.
In the meantime, SHARP CORP. is shipping to the United States 50-inch plasma display panels, primarily for use as advanced wall-mounted TVs. The skinny screens, which are priced around $21,000, are produced for Sharp on an original equipment manufacturer basis by PIONEER CORP.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
A significant part of the world nuclear fuel market was reconfigured January 1, 2000 in response to the changing dynamics of the business. On that date, GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., HITACHI, LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. collaborators since 1967 integrated their nuclear fuel design, development, manufacturing and marketing operations into GLOBAL NUCLEAR FUEL (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 5). GE owns 51 percent of this San Jose, California company; Hitachi and Toshiba each have a 24.5 percent stake. Two units are under GNF's umbrella. In the United States, GLOBAL NUCLEAR FUEL - AMERICAS, LLC took over GE's light-water reactor fuel operations as well as its Wilmington, North Carolina manufacturing plant. This 900- employee firm also incorporates JOINT CONVERSION CO., a venture formed by the three partners in the early 1990s to reconvert fuel to produce uranium for power generation. The Japanese part of GNF is the relaunched JAPAN NUCLEAR FUEL CO., LTD., a Yokosuka, Kanagawa prefecture-based fuel manufacturing venture launched in 1967, which now also includes the previously separate light-water reactor fuel design, development and marketing activities of GE, Hitachi and Toshiba. This company has approximately 500 employees. GNF starts off with worldwide sales of roughly $476.2 million a year.
Japan's scheduled March 2000 deregulation of retail electricity sales to big users has caught the attention not only of such major American players in this field as ENRON CORP. but of Japanese outsiders as well. One is ORIX CORP. Through its New York City subsidiary, the country's top leasing company is investing in ENCOM CORP., which Enron established in August 1999 specifically to participate in liberalized energy markets in Japan. Orix will invest a total of $30 million in EnCom but initially will take a 20 percent or so stake in the firm. Once EnCom sets up operations in Japan, Orix will help it get its business off the ground by selling electricity to its corporate customers and by providing financing for electricity-generating facilities and equipment that EnCom decides to purchase.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The Federal Reserve Board gave SONY CORP. and partner HELLER INTERNATIONAL CORP., a major provider of various financial services to midsize and smaller businesses, the go-ahead to form SONY FINANCIAL SERVICES LLC (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 6). Initially, the venture, in which Sony has a 51 percent stake, will offer financing to buyers of the Japanese company's consumer and industrial electronics products. Down the road, it expects to introduce financing and leasing programs for different parts of Sony's distribution channels as well as to develop consumer and third-party financing arrangements. SFS's ultimate goal is to go into the on-line financial services business through Sony's VAIO Direct Web site. Chicago- headquartered Heller is a FUJI BANK, LTD. affiliate.
The investment banking unit of the proposed MIZUHO FINANCIAL GROUP, which will be the world's largest commercial bank on formation this coming fall, will use information compiled by SANFORD C. BERNSTEIN & CO. on some 600 American companies to invest pension funds managed by the company in the stocks of U.S. firms. DAI-ICHI KANGYO FUJI TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD., set up by DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD. and FUJI BANK, LTD., already has signed a wide-ranging agreement with the New York City institutional money manager, which is well-known for its investment research. In October 2000, this firm will merge with IBJ TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. to become MIZUHO TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. Mizuho Financial will result from the combination of the operations of DKB, Fuji Bank and INDUSTRIAL BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. .....At the same time, NIKKO ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. is working with SANFORD C. BERNSTEIN & CO. to develop and manage mutual funds or investment trusts, as they are known in Japan that invest in foreign stocks. This arrangement complements one that the money management unit of NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. has with New York City's FISCHER FRANCIS TREES & WATTS INC. on foreign bond mutual funds.
Already known as one of the major Japanese investors in Internet ventures in the United States, HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. has decided to institutionalize its information-gathering and decisionmaking processes. Its HIKARI TSUSHIN CAPITAL, INC. unit has opened an office in Redwood City, California to spearhead the search for promising investments. This operation is one of seven that Hikari Tsushin Capital is establishing overseas. The others will be in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Seoul and Shanghai.
Japanese institutional investors have committed $100 million to the MCC-PCG International Private Equity Fund. The fund was organized by MITSUBISHI CORPORATION CAPITAL LTD., which trader MI-TSUBISHI CORP. set up in April 1999 to expand its merchant banking and other financial services activities, and PACIFIC CORPORATE GROUP, a La Jolla, California business that specializes in making and managing private market investments (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 17). Originally, the partners had hoped to raise $50 million, but the interest of Japanese companies in diversifying their investment portfolios produced a bigger-than-expected inflow of money. DAIDO LIFE INSURANCE CO. and Mitsubishi's pension fund are the leading participants in the fund, which will take advantage of private equity investment opportunities around the world but especially in the United States and Europe.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
For the last 11 years, ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. and Australia's BROKEN HILL PROPRIETARY CORP. have been developing the technology for a steelmaking process known as strip casting or direct casting of molten steel into final shapes and thicknesses without further hot or cold rolling. Now, they have agreed with NUCOR CORP., the world's top minimill operator, to form a company in Charlotte, North Carolina to license worldwide the patents and the technology required for strip casting and to sell the equipment to implement the process. IHI and BHP will contribute their intellectual property rights to the proposed venture, while Nucor, which will build a strip-casting facility at one of its mills to refine the technology, will put up cash. The Charlotte-headquartered steelmaker will have exclusive rights to the technology in the United States and Brazil; BHP will control it in Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Elsewhere, the partners jointly will market the cost-reducing process. Nucor and BHP each will receive 47.5 percent of any profits, with IHI getting 5 percent.
ISHIKAWAJIMA PRECISION CASTING CO., LTD. has a GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. contract to supply castings for manufacturing blades for gas turbine generators. The blades, which measure 19.5 inches and longer, are destined for GE gas turbines in the 10,000- kilowatt-hour class and above. The wholly owned ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. subsidiary expects the GE deal to produce annual revenues of $4.8 million and, perhaps more importantly, to help it develop castings for gas turbine blades into a business rivaling that of its existing castings for aircraft engine blades. Samples of the new castings are expected to be shipped shortly to GE.
With demand for copper-aluminum-copper growing among manufacturers of printed circuit boards, GOULD ELECTRONICS INC. acquired for an undisclosed price JOHNSON & JOHNSTON ASSOCI-ATES, INC. In 1993, that Hampstead, New Hampshire firm gave Gould, a JAPAN ENERGY CORP. company, exclusive rights to manufacture and market outside of North America CAC laminate for PCB applications. However, JJA retained product rights to the North American PCB market. With the acquisition of JJA, an 130- employee business that has production facilities at headquarters, Gould now is positioned to capitalize fully on the rising demand for CAC laminate. The high-end product is used mainly on glass-reinforced PCBs going into computers, communications equipment and industrial controls for taxing applications. In addition to CAC laminates, the multinational Gould, which is headquartered in Eastlake, Ohio, makes copper foil and adhesiveless flexible laminates for the PCB industry (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 8).
Under an extension to their December 1996 cross-supply agreement, SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. is shipping on an OEM basis to VALENITE, INC. SUMIDA DA polycrystalline diamond and SUMIBORON cubic boron nitride materials for use in cutting tools. Polycrystalline cutting tools are used for machining materials that are either too hard or too abrasive for conventional cutting tools, such as tungsten carbide, cermets (metal-ceramic combinations) or ceramics. SEI believes that the deal will add revenues of $95,200 a month to its business. Until now, big cutting tool supplier Valenite, which is based in Madison Heights, Michigan, has been marketing SEI's cermet inserts and ultrahard drills. The Big Three automotive makers are the primary customers for these products, which produce monthly sales of $190,500 to $285,700.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The Nevada Gaming Commission's decision to license KONAMI CO., LTD. and a U.S. subsidiary to manufacture and market casino gaming machines opens up a new line of business for Japan's top supplier of interactive entertainment software. KONAMI GAMING INC., which has been in Las Vegas since 1997, expects to spend some $23.8 million to build a headquarters and a factory in the huge gambling center. The plant's 150 or so employees initially will assemble parts imported from Japan into horse-racing, poker and slot machines. The first of these machines could be delivered to Las Vegas casinos and hotels as soon as the fall. Having scored a breakthrough with the state of Nevada, Konami hopes to be licensed by California, Mississippi, New Jersey and other states as well to supply gaming machines.
A disagreement over price caused NACCO MATERIALS HANDLING GROUP, INC. to scrap a spring 1999 memorandum of understanding with NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. to acquire the beleaguered automotive maker's global forklift truck manufacturing and marketing businesses (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, pp. 7-8). Nissan says that it will seek another buyer for the lift truck division, which operates plants in Tokyo, Spain and Marengo, Illinois. Executives have not said what might happen if that search proves futile. Portland, Oregon-based NACCO Materials Handling, which ranks second in the international forklift market, makes products for sale under the Hyster and Yale brand names.
KOBELCO CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY (U.S.A.), INC. began shipments of the all- new Dynamic Acera line of hydraulic excavators at the beginning of January. KOBE STEEL, LTD. spent $3.5 million to retool its subsidiary's 11-year-old Calhoun, Georgia factory to make the Dynamic Acera's 210, 250, 290 and 330 models and to expand the ranks of robots to 19. Kobelco Construction has the capacity to turn out 2,400 hydraulic excavators a year.
Electrodischarge machine manufacturer SODICK CO., LTD. established a R&D subsidiary in San Jose, California to help ensure that it is on the cutting edge of machine tool technical developments. The company, which is scheduled to open by the end of March and to have a staff of 15 initially, will focus in particular on CNC systems and supporting software for EDM equipment. It will work closely with its Kanagawa prefecture parent's manufacturing operations and marketing units, which include a wholly owned sales subsidiary in Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
Like other machine tool builders hard hit by the slump in capital spending at home, O-M LTD. sees the United States as a revenue offsetter. Japan's top maker of vertical lathes will concentrate sales on compact CNC machines products used by the thousands of American job shops that support automotive, aircraft and other manufacturers. The Osaka prefecture supplier says that it will use U.S. distributors rather than big Japanese trading companies, machine tool makers' typical sales channel, in order to reach its intended market and to provide customers with better after-sale service.
Now that it has switched to direct marketing of its SMT (surface-mount technology) and semiconductor assembly systems in North America and Europe from OEM sales (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 9), JUKI CORP. has penciled in a big gain in business in these two regions by FY 2002. One key to achieving its ambitious goal is the introduction of a new line of SMT equipment. The first product in the KE-2000 Series, the KE-2030, will be released in early spring. This twin-head, high-speed chip shooter is equipped with a pair of new multilaser heads, each of which operates four nozzles. The line's second product should be available in May.
Big precision pump manufacturer NIKKISO CO., LTD. has decided to venture out on its own in North America. For years, the company has partnered with cryogenic submerged pump supplier J.C. CARTER CO., INC. on both technology and marketing, with the Costa Mesa, California firm handling sales in the United States and Canada and Nikkiso responsible for the rest of the world. In one sign of its future marketing course, Nikkiso opened a cryogenic test facility in North Las Vegas, Nevada last year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 8).
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Having already staked out a strong position in the American market for midrange and high- volume digital copiers, RICOH CO., LTD. intends to build on this momentum by setting up a Network Solution Center and introducing a new line of products. The Network Solution Center will provide technical support to Ricoh customers switching to networked copiers. It will be staffed by close to 100 people, roughly double the number who currently work in this field. At the same time, the company's West Caldwell, New Jersey marketing unit, which expects to phase out analog products by 2002, announced its flagship Aficio 850 digital imaging system a 70- to 90-page-per-minute machine with network printing capabilities that also is targeted at the print-on-demand market. To be priced at less than $50,000, the system will be available in the spring.
Development of a digital camera that will allow users to upload images to the Internet without first transferring them to a PC is the goal of an alliance that CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. forged with San Fran-cisco's ZING NETWORK, INC., which operates a free service at Zing.com to share, manage, store and print pictures on-line, and FOTONATION, INC., a Milbrae, California provider of digital photography software. In the first stage of the tie-up, owners of Casio digital cameras will be able to upload images through PCs to Zing's Web site using FotoNation's FotoDeveloper-Uploader technology. In phase two, consumers will be able to bypass their PCs using FotoNation's new FotoConnect modem and upload pictures to Zing.com. These steps are to lead to the launch of a Casio Internet camera with built-in "click-free" technology developed by FotoNation for direct uploads to Zing.com. The timing of the alliance's phase two and phase three was not disclosed.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
NEC CORP. and four of its competitors in the memory business are working with INTEL CORP. to develop cost-effective, high-performance DRAM technology for the main memory of PCs scheduled for release in 2003 and later. Industry analysts are quick to point out that Intel's willingness to heed the decision of the group represents an about-face for the supplier of about 80 percent of all processors. For current-genera-tion mainstream PCs, Intel unilaterally decided that RAMBUS INC.'s direct Rambus DRAM would be the main memory. As a result, memory manufacturers have not devoted the resources, whether technical or financial, to supporting and advancing RDRAM technology that presumably would have been forthcoming had the decision to go the Rambus route been mutual. Interestingly, RDRAM is one of the candidates for the main memory of next-generation PCs along with synchronous DRAM and DDR (double data rate) SDRAM. A completely new technology is another possibility.
MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., TOSHIBA CORP. and SANDISK CORP., which are collaborating on a next-generation secure memory card (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, September 1999, p. 8), have organized an industry association to set standards for the SD (secure digital) Memory Card and to promote the development of digital audio-visual products and digital information appliances that use it. The postage stamp-size card will provide a high level of copyright protection compliant with the Secure Digital Music Initiative as well as high-density memory capacity. A who's who of electronics companies on both sides of the Pacific has said that they will join the SD Association. Sampling of the SD Memory Card is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2000, with production shipments following in the spring. The initial card will be available in capacities of 32 MB and 64 MB.
One of the pioneers in the development of chip solutions for the radio frequency-enabled wireless communications technology known as Bluetooth completed a $35 million third round of financing. TDK CORP. was one of the new investors in SILICON WAVE, INC. It joined existing investor JAPAN ASIA INVESTMENT CO., LTD. The San Diego, California company, which already has announced a Bluetooth-targeted system-on-a-chip that integrates all radio, modem and synthesizer functions into a package smaller than a dime, is working with both TAIYO YUDEN CO., LTD. and HITACHI, LTD. (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 11).
DAI NIPPON PRINTING CO., LTD. the world leader in photomasks, the plates used to project ever more complex circuit design patterns onto silicon wafers has a project underway with INTEL CORP. to develop the photomask technologies that the processor king will require to implement its next-generation 0.13-micron design rule. Intel currently is transitioning all of its mainstream processor products to 0.18-micron processing. It plans to switch to 0.13-micron technology in 2001. Significantly, Dai Nippon Printing will make the 0.13-micron process photomask technologies it codevelops with Intel available to other semiconductor manufacturers. Last June, the company acquired HITACHI, LTD.'s photomask operations. In December, Dai Nippon Printing and TOSHIBA CORP. announced a joint venture to produce photomasks to realize the chipmaker's 0.15-micron process technology.
In a key win for AERA CORP., big semiconductor production equipment manufacturer NOVELLUS SYSTEMS INC. made the Austin, Texas company's gas mass-flow controllers the standard MFC for its entire product line. San Jose, California-based Novellus produces thin-film deposition equipment, including dielectric plasma chemical vapor deposition systems and high-density plasma, tungsten and physical vapor systems. Aera, a NIPPON TYLAN CORP. firm, has been turning out MFCs since 1994.
In advance of the widespread availability of such next-generation PC main memory candidates as DDR SDRAM, the Santa Clara, California subsidiary of world automatic test equipment leader ADVANTEST CORP. released the T5585 Memory Test System and the companion M6541A Dynamic Test Handler. The tester, which starts at $3 million, can handle up to 128 devices in parallel at either 250 MHz or 500 MHz, making it ideal for the expected big volume of forthcoming high-bandwidth devices. The $475,000 handler is designed to maximize throughput and to reduce testing costs.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The dismantling of ZIFF-DAVIS INC. is occurring almost as fast as its buildup into a diversified media company after SOFTBANK CORP. paid a reported $2.1 billion for the world's largest publisher of information technology magazines in early 1996 and then folded many related U.S. properties into it. In the latest move (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 13), Ziff-Davis will spin off its San Francisco-head- quartered ZDNet unit into an independent Internet company known as ZDNET INC. The technology-ori-ented ZDNet is one of the world's top 20 Web sites, a ranking attributable in part to its early start 1994 in the on-line business. Once Ziff-Davis completes the sale of its events-staging unit, its only remaining significant operation, the New York company will be merged into ZDNet and essentially cease to exist. Softbank, which now owns approximately 70 percent of Ziff-Davis, will be the largest shareholder in ZDNet with an interest of roughly 45 percent. These transactions are expected to be completed sometime in the spring. The breakup of Ziff-Davis is the result of Softbank's decision last year to focus its investments exclusively on companies that are Internet players.
SOFTBANK CORP. meanwhile joined four of the world's biggest electronics distributors and the parent of FEDERAL EXPRESS CORP. to launch what is described as the first electronic-business hub for the information technology industry. The goal of VIACORE, INC., based in Santa Ana, California, is to link IT supply chain partners, whether suppliers, distributors or resellers, within vertical markets through a transparent hub, enabling them to conduct business with each other quickly and cost-effectively. The Viacore PIP (partner interface process) hub will offer 24x7 global, real-time command and control of the supply chain process. Participants will have the flexibility to connect to or disconnect from partners and will receive comprehensive reporting and benchmarking. The company's initial service offerings are expected to be available on a pilot basis in March. The distributors backing Viacore are: ARROW ELECTRONICS, INC., AVNET, INC., INGRAM MICRO, INC. and TECH DATA CORP.
One indication of how determined HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. is to become a major force in the Internet world is its decision to pay $100 million for a 1.34 percent stake in IDEALAB! The Pasadena, California incubator of Internet entrepreneurs, which analysts expect to go public fairly soon, was founded in March 1996. It has nurtured more than 30 start-ups, helping them with everything from capital to office space. idealab! currently has more than 20 businesses in various stages of development. Hikari Tsushin, a big distributor of cellular phones, apparently sees its involvement with idealab! as a way to get an inside track on promising Internet ventures.
In a move that builds on its core business, HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. joined a number of other first-time investors as well as existing ones in putting up $33 million for SIGNALSOFT CORP. Founded in 1995, the Boulder, Colorado company provides voice and data wireless location-based services in the areas of safety, billing information and tracking. For example, it controls the majority of the wireless 911 market in the United States. SignalSoft says that it will use part of the money raised to expand into Japan and elsewhere in the Asian Pacific market a strategy that should be facilitated by Hikari Tsushin's involvement.
Along with the Intel 64 Fund, the Bellevue, Washington subsidiary of TRANS COSMOS INC. invested in LUTRIS TECHNOLOGIES, a start-up bankrolled by affiliates of CHASE MANHATTAN CORP. The Santa Cruz, California company is the developer of the Enhydra open-source Java/XML application server software. Trans Cosmos believes that considerable opportunities exist in Japan for Lutris because of the growing acceptance of the Linux operating system there.
Subscribers to AMERICA ONLINE, INC.'s services soon will be able to access, send and receive their AOL e-mail on CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD.'s CASSIOPEIA handheld computers. AOL will develop the software, which Casio will distribute with its products; AOL members also will be able to download the software. In the future, the two companies plan to explore how AOL interactive services can be integrated with forthcoming Casio personal multimedia devices.
Mainframe systems supplier AMDAHL CORP., a FUJITSU, LTD. company, has on the market UTS Release 4.4 for its Millennium, System 1000, and 5995M, 5995A and 5990M families of enterprise servers as well as for its competition's machines. UTS Release 4.4 supports a S/390-compatible, SVR4-based software environment, enabling high-performance, large-scale enterprise open systems computing. One of the beauties of the new operating system, Sunnyvale, California-head-quartered Amdahl says, is that it connects to and shares a common platform with legacy systems.
A joint development project undertaken by YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. and CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC.'s Quickturn unit has yielded a system that enables extremely high-speed but accurate hardware/software coverification of complex SOC designs. The solution combines the Japanese company's recently developed CEEDS- QTS software kernel, which is based on its Virtual ICE HW/SW coverification tool, with Quickturn's Mercury verification system logic emulator. According to the partners, their system achieves a 50,000-times improvement in performance compared with software- based HDL (hardware description language) simulation solutions for multimillion-gate designs. The HW/SW coverification system lists for $150,000; the Mercury system is sold separately.
DAIFUKU CO., LTD. completed the sale of AUTO-SOFT CORP. and AUTOSIMULATIONS, INC. to BROOKS AUTOMATION, INC., making the Chelmsford, Massachusetts company the undisputed top supplier of automation software to the semiconductor industry (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 10). The transaction was valued at approximately $57 million. Daifuku, a major manufacturer of materials-handling equipment, and Brooks intend to collaborate on R&D and distribution of hardware and software products to better serve customers of both businesses. However, the details of the alliance still must be worked out.
Animators, game developers and other content creators have a more powerful software development tool available with the release by NICHIMEN GRAPHICS CORP. of Mirai 1.1. The original version was introduced in May 1999. Part of the NICHIMEN CORP. subsidiary's N-World suite of real-time content creation tools, Mirai 1.1 lists for $6,500.
The first Internet-enabled DVD authoring tool is shipping from DAIKIN U.S. COMTEC LABORATORIES of Novato, California. Version 1.0 of Scenarist Enhanced DVD Kit links the worlds of DVD-Video and the Web, allowing publishers, for example, to embed video playback within Web pages. It complements the wholly owned DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. subsidiary's other DVD tools: Scenarist, DVD Informer and ROM Formatter.
Canon Photo and Canon Photo Gold, priced at $35 and $55, respectively, are the first products in what will be a line of programs from the Canon Software Publishing division of CANON COMPUTER SYSTEMS INC. that are compatible with the Macintosh operating system. OfficeReady ($40) and OfficeReady Professional ($70), which enable SOHO (small office/home office) businesspeople to produce documents in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, will be released in the second half of the year. Costa Mesa, California- based Canon Software Publishing was set up in 1998 to develop, publish and distribute software mainly in North and South America.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
With a near-term investment of some $500 million by FUJITSU, LTD. and its Richardson, Texas fiber-optic transmission and broadband switching platform manufacturing unit, FUJITSU NETWORK COMMUNICATIONS, INC. intends by yearend to double production capacity for its FLASH-192 SONET (synchronous optical network) add/drop multiplexer for interoffice and interexchange carrier networks. By that time, the factory will be able to turn out 1,000 of these optical transport systems a month, or 10 times more than at the start of 1999. The FLASH-192 system operates at 10 gigabits per second, handling the equivalent of more than 129,000 simultaneous telephone calls over a single fiber pair. Production of Fujitsu Network's SONET OC-48 (2.5 Gbps) add/drop multiplexer, FLM 2400 add/drop multiplexer and FLASHWAVE WDM (wavelength-division multiplexing) system also will increase.
Some of the world's most advanced optical networking research will take place at the Photonics Networking Laboratory to be located at FUJITSU NETWORK COMMUNICATIONS, INC.'s campus in Rich-ardson, Texas. FUJITSU, LTD. is moving the applied optical networking research performed at its R&D facility in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture to the United States, narrowing the work done in Japan to basic research. The Texas center will start off with a team of 13 researchers, including eight transferred from Japan. Within five years, though, as many as 100 people could be employed by the Photonics Networking Laboratory, working on high-speed WDM, optical add/drop multiplexing, optical switching, passive optical network and other cutting-edge optical technologies. Sources estimate that Fujitsu could spend $95.2 million on this project through 2004.
With the February 1, 2000 establishment of PACEON CORP. in Duluth, Georgia, MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. highlighted its intention of becoming a major player in the North American market for advanced optical access systems for corporate and residential use. The new company, formerly the Telecommunications Network Division of MITSUBISHI WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, INC., will be in charge of developing and marketing network equipment that complies with the standards crafted by the Full Service Access Network alliance for the convergence of legacy and emerging broadband network services onto ATM-PON (asynchronous transfer mode-passive optical networks) systems. MELCO previewed its interest in this market, which makes use of existing telephone lines to deliver voice, data and video to businesses and homes, by introducing last year the Integrated Full Service Access Platform product line (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 10). PACEON starts off with 50 employees but plans to double in size during the coming year. It is aiming for revenues of $476.2 million in FY 2003.
SUNCALL CORP., which produces a line of fiber-optic connectors under license from LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC., established a marketing subsidiary in Greer, South Carolina. The Kyoto prefecture manufacturer envisions the new unit as a way to shorten delivery times and to provide better customer services. Suncall's sales of LC Connectors reportedly are strong. The company also will use the subsidiary to collect information to help it with product development.
At least one cellular phone model to be introduced by MOTOROLA INC. this year will feature an electroluminescence display manufactured by a PIONEER CORP. affiliate. The contract represents the first time that the electronics company has made EL displays for an outsider, although they have been used in Pioneer's car stereo systems. EL displays have several advantages over conventional LCD displays, including a wider viewing angle and reduced power consumption.
The team of OKI DATA CORP. and SHAREMEDIA, INC. has codeveloped a line of Internet appliances that allow users to send e-mail and fax messages anywhere in the world via the Rockville, Maryland partner's Internet Protocol-based Fax2Net service. The devices connect automatically to ShareMedia's global IP backbone, enabling customers to send faxes to a recipient's e-mail address or fax machine as well as to send Web content via fax. The Fax2Net service also provides customers with a virtual e-mail address that allows then to receive e-mail messages via fax. ShareMedia says that its Fax2Net service differs from the competition's in that the communications software and routing equipment reside on the network, not on the appliance.
A company that provides high-speed Internet access and digital communications and e- community services to commercial, lodging and residential facilities has gotten off the ground with financial help from SOFTBANK VENTURE CAPITAL and PEQUOT CAPITAL MANAGEMENT, INC. of Westport, Connecticut. At launch, EVEREST BROADBAND NETWORKS already had agreements with a number of property owners across the country. The enticement for them is that the Fort Lee, New Jersey firm's services help to attract and retain tenants while allowing property managers to retain a share of the revenues from this extra. For apartment residents, for instance, Everest's offerings mean dedicated access to the Internet.
At a cost of $100 million, KDD CORP. acquired capacity on GLOBAL CROSSING LTD.'s round-the-world fiber-optic network to connect customers in Asia, the United States, Latin America and Europe. Initially, the big Japanese international carrier will use recently completed Pacific Crossing-1, which links the United States and Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 10).
With almost predictable regularity, INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. announces another upgrade of its transpacific backbone in a race to keep pace with the booming volume of Internet traffic between Japan and the rest of the Asian Pacific region and the United States. The latest expansion, which was to be operational in the middle of February, boosted capacity to 775 megabits per second from 620 Mbps. It was achieved by adding a 155-Mbps line between Tokyo and Palo Alto, California. IIJ's first dedicated Japan-U.S. line, put in service in March 1994, had a capacity of 192 kilobits per second.
People who use TOKYO TELECOMMUNICATIONS NETWORK CO., INC.'s Internet service now have dial-up access around the world, thanks to a roaming agreement with Herndon, Virginia-based UUNET TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the world's biggest Internet services provider. They have access to 1,113 points in 25 countries outside Japan, plus 85 in Japan in addition to the 15 Internet access points that TTNet maintains in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Subscribers who take advantage of this new freedom pay roaming fees as well as telephone connection charges.
By the end of 2000, JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. will pull out of the communications market in the United States and in the United Kingdom. This pending move follows the purchase last fall of a combined 30 percent stake in the long-distance carrier by AT&T CORP. and BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC and the January launch of their branded Concert international services for multinationals. New York City-based JAPAN TELECOM AMERICA, INC. began facilities-based domestic long-distance and transpacific calling services in June 1998. It will sell off or otherwise dispose of its equipment. In the future, the subsidiary will backstop the provision of Concert services to Japanese companies operating in the United States. Japan Telecom America also will sell the 51 percent stake in AIRNEX COMMUNICATIONS INC. that it acquired in August 1998. This San Ramon, California long-dis-tance carrier serves a largely Japanese clientele.
Given the still sky-high cost of digital TV sets, FUNAI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and SARNOFF CORP. have decided to come up with a popularly priced set-top box that will convert terrestrial DTV broadcast signals for display on today's analog sets. This device will give consumers access not only to digital programming but also to the picture quality and the CD-like surround sound that are available with digital delivery. Princeton, New Jersey- based Sarnoff will develop a customized graphical user interface and a reference design for the STB, which will incorporate demodulator and video decoder chips that MOTOROLA INC. designed in cooperation with Sarnoff. Consumer electronics manufacturer Funai Electric will build the STBs. They are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2000.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Just 18 months after all-terrain vehicles started coming off the assembly line at HONDA OF SOUTH CAROLINA MANUFACTURING, INC. in Timmonsville, South Carolina, the company broke ground for a $20 million adjacent engine plant. At start-up this fall, the facility, which will perform engine machining, die-casting and assembly, will begin to replace ATV engines made by HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. in Kumamoto prefecture. When the engine plant reaches capacity in 2001, HSC will be able to turn out 150,000 ATVs and engines a year. At that time, approximately 625 people will be employed by the factory, or some 200 more than now. HSC currently manufactures five ATV models. About 20 percent of its output is exported. Honda spent $50 million-plus to launch ATV output at HSC.
The runner-up to HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. in the American ATV market also is planning to expand onshore production. YAMAHA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s subsidiary in Newnan, Georgia has its sights set on producing 63,000 ATVs in 2000. If achieved, that volume would represent a 50 percent-plus jump on 1999 output. Three of the 13 ATV models that Yamaha sells in the United States are built by YAMAHA MOTOR MANUFACTURING CORP. OF AMERICA. They include an ATV with a 250-cubic- centimeter engine and two that are powered by 400cc engines. YMMC has been in business since 1988. It got its start making golf carts and personal watercraft products that are still made today. .....Not to be outdone, KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. reportedly plans to expand production of ATVs at its Lincoln, Nebraska subsidiary. The target for 2000 is a volume of 105,000 units, or about 15 percent more than last year.
Operations have started at TOCHIGI FUJI INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s engine and powertrain components factory in Bowling Green, Ohio. The plant's 25 employees initially are making a pair of powertrain parts for FORD MOTOR CO., but the company is actively soliciting business from other automotive manufacturers, including, presumably, NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.'s Smyrna, Tennessee complex. At home, that company is Tochigi Fuji Industrial's main customer. The parts maker anticipates a rapid expansion of U.S. production, with sales jumping from roughly $2.6 million this year to $30 million in 2001. The company also hopes to improve its future chances of winning contracts by adding design and development capabilities at some point.
Having spent $28.6 million between 1997 and 1999 to expand window regulator capacity at its HI-LEX CONTROLS, INC. subsidiary in Litchfield, Michigan, NIPPON CABLE SYSTEM INC. expects a fairly quick payoff in terms of higher sales. In fact, in the near term, it projects, annual revenues will hit $200 million, double the FY 1998 total. More than half of the company's output of window regulators goes to GENERAL MOTORS CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, June 1999, p. 12). FORD MOTOR CO. and HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s two plants in Ohio are Hi-Lex Controls' other customers.
What GENERAL MOTORS CORP. dubs e-vehi-cles cars and trucks equipped with Internet access will be developed in part with input from SONY CORP. The world's largest automotive company will use the consumer electronics giant's flash memory-based Memory Stick storage media for the PCs that will be built into these next-generation vehicles, which could be on the market as soon as a year from now. The thrust of GM's e- vehicle initiative is to link a driver's home, office and vehicle. One expected use of Sony's Memory Stick technology is to download audio and video from various sources for later use in the e-vehicle's computer.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The cosmetics business in the United States is a tough one for all but the biggest players, as even SHISEIDO CO., LTD. has discovered (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, pp. 14-15). That has not deterred KANEBO, LTD. The number two to Shiseido in Japan has established a subsidiary in New York City in preparation for launching sales this spring. Run by the company that controls Kanebo's cosmetics marketing operations in 15 European countries, the new unit hopes by FY 2005 to have counters at 163 locations across the United States, mainly upscale department stores. At that time, retail sales are projected at $49.5 million a year. The Sensai brand of cosmetics marketed in Europe will be the first line introduced in this country.
Already the world's biggest maker of ceramic packages for the semiconductor and communications markets, KYOCERA CORP. expanded its technical reach by buying for an undisclosed price VISPRO CORP. The 60-employee Beaverton, Oregon manufacturer supplies low-temperature co-cured multilayer ceramic substrates and structural ceramic components. It has the expertise to produce packages with more than 100 circuit layers and 84,000 vias, the tiny pathways that carry signals from one layer to another. VisPro will operate as a division of San Diego, California-based KYOCERA AMERICA, INC., which actually made the purchase. VisPro was spun off from TEKTRONIX, INC. in 1994.
Verification testing has wrapped up for the main propulsion system for the National Space Development Agency's HOPE-X prototype reusable, unmanned space shuttle. AEROJET, a GENCORP INC. company, is developing the HOPE-X's orbital maneuvering engine under contract for ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD., the shuttle's propulsion system contractor. The test engine will be refurbished for use as a spare. Sacramento, California-based Aerojet will deliver two new flight engines to IHI later this year.
A six-company team headed by MITSUBISHI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. will represent Japan in work with the United States on a sea-based theater missile defense system. Washington and Tokyo agreed to research such a system last year (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, pp. 13-14). The other participants on the Japanese side are FUJITSU, LTD., ISHIKAWAJIMA-HARIMA HEAVY INDUSTRIES CO., LTD., KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. The project's American prime contractor is RAYTHEON CO., which is in charge of the Navy's Theater Wide missile defense program, the basis for the collaborative transpacific effort.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Two midsize U.S. drug companies formed development and marketing alliances with TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., also a second-tier player in the world market. For starters, MILLENNIUM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. is licensing a treatment for chronic asthma to its new partner. Taisho Pharmaceutical will have exclusive rights in Asia and Europe to LDP-977, which belongs to a class of asthma therapies known as 5- Lipoxygenase inhibitors because they block the production of asthma-causing leukotrienes. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Millennium will have rights elsewhere. The Japanese company will cover all R&D costs associated with commercializing LDP-977 in Asia and two-thirds of the same expenses for the United States and Europe. It also will pay a licensing fee of undisclosed size and make R&D milestone payments. On commercialization and marketing approval, Millennium will manufacture and supply the product to Taisho Pharmaceutical. LDP-977 is in Phase IIa clinical trials.
The other company partnering with TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. is NEUROCRINE BIOSCIENCES, INC., which gave the Japanese firm an exclusive option for Asian and European commercialization rights to its altered peptide ligand for the treatment of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or Type I diabetes. The San Diego, California company and Taisho Pharmaceutical will coordinate the worldwide development of NBI-6024 in a collaboration that could be worth approximately $45 million to Neurocrine Biosciences. That amount includes licensing and option fees, payments for certain development and regulatory milestones and half of all development costs. Taisho Pharmaceutical also will pay royalties on sales in Asia and Europe. Phase I clinical testing of NBI-6024 is expected to be completed in the first half of 2000.
SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. will begin sales March 1 of five kinds of chewable vitamins that it codeveloped with REXALL SUNDOWN, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 16). The big Boca Raton, Florida nutritional supplement supplier is making a multivitamin, a vitamin C tablet, a vitamin B mix, a vitamin A, C and E combination and a beta-carotene supplement for sale under the Body Navi brand. Snow Brand will market the vitamins, which will cost $8.60 for a month's supply, through the channels it uses for infant formula. Rexall Sundown expects to develop other nutritional supplements with Snow Brand.
In time, CARGILL DOW POLYMERS LLC estimates, exports to Japan could represent 30 percent of the sales of its revolutionary NatureWorks polylactide polymers. Suitable for use in fibers, plastic packaging and other products down the road, PLA polymers are made from a renewal resource corn-derived dextrose yet they are said to be competitive on both a cost and a performance basis with hydrocarbon-derived fibers and packing materials. Cargill Dow Polymers, equally owned by CARGILL INC. and DOW CHEMICAL CO., already has signed supply arrangements with a KANEBO, LTD. affiliate, KURARAY CO., LTD., MITSUBISHI PLASTICS, INC. and UNITIKA, LTD. In the near term, they could receive PLA polymers from a pilot plant outside Minneapolis that will have the capacity by yearend to make about 8,800 tons of product a year. However, Cargill Dow Polymers just announced plans to build a $300 million, world-scale facility in Blair, Nebraska to produce PLA polymers. Expected to come onstream in late 2001, the plant will be able to turn out approximately 154,000 tons of NatureWorks PLA polymers a year.
An unnamed Japanese company described only as a major supplier of materials for LCD production is the first customer for an antireflective film that SOUTHWALL TECHNOLOGIES INC. developed specifically for use with the high-resolution displays of notebook and desktop computers as well as personal digital assistants. The film will be made at Southwall's Palo Alto, California facility. Initial quantities will be available this quarter. To date, the company has made antireflective film for cathode-ray tubes (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 13).
In a deal designed to build up its business among manufacturers of electrical equipment in Southeast Asia, major thermoset composite molding compounds producer PREMIX, INC. tied up with DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC. The North Kingsville, Ohio firm licensed its molding compound production technology to DIC for use in making thermoset composites for such products as circuit breakers. The Japanese manufacturer, one of the world's biggest producers of unsaturated polyesters, will launch production based on Premix's technology in April at an Osaka factory. DIC also is weighing production at its plants in China as well as in Thailand and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. As part of their agreement, Premix and its new partner will review other opportunities to work together on thermoset composites, both on the technical side and in the applications areas.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
For whatever reason, contracts awarded to SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. for government- financed supercomputers or the equivalent have been few and far between of late. That made an order from a Ministry of Education organization all the sweeter. Its Institute of Statistical Mathematics has on order SGI's top-of-the-line Unix server, the SGI Origin 2800. The system, described as the largest shared-memory ccNUMA (nonuniform memory access) server in the world, will be equipped with the minimum 64 processors. It will have 48 GB of shared memory, accessible by every processor. That is four times the capacity of ISM's current system. Included in the contract price of $3.8 million are such add-ons as data storage devices and a tape library. SGI's subsidiary hopes to use this order to win clients among the companies with which ISM works.
IBM JAPAN LTD. made a smart move when it decided to devote resources to winning contracts from other companies, particularly financial services providers, to run their information technology systems. In what is described as the biggest outsourcing agreement in Japan's insurance industry, MEIJI MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. has a 10-year, $533 arrangement with IBM Japan to manage its host computer and backup equipment. The outsourcing deal, the insurer calculates, not only will ensure that its complex computing setup operates reliably and efficiently but also will save the company an estimated $133.3 million over the contract's term.
IBM JAPAN LTD. and DAIWA BANK, LTD. will develop a system to automate more of the labor-intensive back-office functions that bank branches perform. The system will be geared toward regional bank administrative centers on the theory that big banks can improve efficiency even more if they transfer back-office work from branch offices to several locations around the country. D&I INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC., an existing IBM Japan-Daiwa Bank venture, will be responsible for building the support system, which should be operational by April 2001. In the months that follow, Daiwa Bank expects to spend some $190.5 million to switch all its branches over to the new technology.
In an alliance that creates a potent force in the areas of e-business and networking, the subsidiaries of INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. and CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. have tied up to develop solutions for corporate customers moving business to the Internet. The partnership, which is the local implementation of a relationship established by the parents in August 1999, draws on IBM's strengths in servers, software, services and technology for e-business and Cisco Systems' leadership position in networking technology. A dedicated team of 60 people located at IBM JAPAN LTD.'s Tokyo headquarters will backstop the collaborative effort. They will offer a full range of services, including support for Cisco Systems products from IBM Global Services as well as jointly developed solutions.
Copying a page from competitors like HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. and IBM JAPAN LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 15), the marketing unit of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. hopes to make e-business start-ups lifetime Sun customers by helping them lower their initial investment costs. The program is open to venture businesses like application service providers and content developers that have 75 or fewer employees and have been operational for less than four years. They are eligible for discounts of a half or more on purchases of hardware and software totaling up to $95,200 a year.
Always on the prowl for new ways to increase sales, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has identified universities and particularly their research operations as a potentially fertile source of new business. The company plans to add to its Compaq DirectPlus Internet sales site, which now is geared to serving the requirements of the corporate world, workstations that provide the processing power for the types of applications researchers are likely to run. Compaq also will set up a help desk at its call center specifically for educational institutions.
Direct marketer GATEWAY, INC. has put increasing emphasis in recent months on sales to corporate customers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 14). It now has quantified this drive, saying that it wants to boost revenues from business buyers to 50 percent of the total in 2000 from 40 percent. Much of the projected growth is expected to come from the SOHO market, which now generates just 10 percent of sales. To better tap this part of the business as well as the broader corporate market, Gateway plans to expand its lineup of PC servers and workstations. Perhaps more significantly, it will launch Gateway @Work, a full menu of services that includes on-site technical support for up to three years and staff training as well as Web hosting.
With the PC market starting to boom again in Japan, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has set the ambitious goal of doubling PC sales to 350,000 units in 2000. Two targets of this drive are small companies and the SOHO market. To better reach these potential customers, HP Japan reportedly will launch an on-line site. It will feature some of the same models available in stores, but the prices will be discounted fairly deeply.
The success that some of its American rivals have enjoyed with Japan-only, all-in-one desktop systems has persuaded DELL COMPUTER CORP. to devote resources to a competing line. These products could be on the market as soon as this summer. Dell's marketing strategy is to beat the competition on price. Most of the integrated desktop systems now available cost $1,900 and up. The new top seller of PCs in the United States will work to get its pricing below this point.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has a late March ship date for the new HP VISUALIZE X-Class Personal Workstation. Designed to handle large, complex Windows NT-based mechanical design automation and digital content creation applications, the system draws on the power of one or two 733-MHz Pentium III processors, a 133-MHz front-side bus and the Intel 840 chipset. It also is distinguished by the SDRAM-based HP VISUALIZE Memory Architecture, which the company says reduces processor idle time and makes applications performance more efficient. The HP VISUALIZE X-Class Personal Workstation can be equipped with as much as 8 GB of internal memory and up to 54 GB of mass storage. As with other members of the line, VISUALIZE-fx is the graphics engine. Pricing of the HP VISUALIZE X-Class Personal Workstation starts at $12,000.
Redefining the high end of its Vectra line of PCs for business users, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is putting on the market the HP Vectra VL600. Available in both desktop and minitower packages, the new line offers several options in Pentium III processors (533EB MHz, 600EB MHz, 667 MHz or 733 MHz) with a 133-MHz front-side bus, 256 KB of Level-2 cache, the Intel 820 chipset, 128 MB of RDRAM and a choice of hard-disk technologies with capacities ranging from 9.1 GB to 30 GB. A midrange HP Vectra VL600 model running the Windows NT Workstation 4.0 operating system will go for about $3,200.
The combination of a 733-MHz Pentium III with the performance-enhancing 820 chipset and RDRAM memory also is available in COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Deskpro EN Series of PCs. This model, priced at $3,800, is one of 10 additions to the company's Deskpro family.
Regardless of what factors corporate IT managers weigh in buying desktop PCs, recent introductions by DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary probably fit the bill. For those interested in the latest in performance, the company has new versions of the Dimension XPS B and the Dimension XPS T. The Dimension XPS B runs off an 800-MHz Pentium III. It can be customized with anywhere from 128 MB to 512 MB of RDRAM system memory and up to a 37.5-GB hard drive. Other features includes 4X AGP (accelerated graphics port) graphics, a 133-MHz front-side bus and an 820 chipset. Only slightly down the performance scale is the Dimension XPS T. It is powered by a 750-MHz implementation of the Pentium III processor. Internal memory can be expanded to 768 MB of SDRAM. And, like its mate, the system can support 37.5 GB of disk storage.
If a space-saving design and affordability are the criteria, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s marketing unit has the Dimension L433cx. Called a microtower, this machine occupies just half the real estate of a minitower system, yet it is expandable. The price is also small at only $900 without a monitor. That buys a PC with a 433-MHz Celeron processor, 32 MB of SDRAM internal memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 48X CD-ROM drive.
In between these new products are two more DELL COMPUTER CORP. desktop PCs, both powered by a 533-MHz Celeron chip and likewise priced around $1,100. The space-saving Dimension C533c comes standard with 64 MB of internal memory and 4.3 GB of hard-drive capacity, while the Optiplex GX100 C533, which is being marketed as a terminal for use in large networks, features 32 MB of RAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 48X CD-ROM drive.
The powerful Athlon processor with Enhanced 3DNOW! technology from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. is at the heart of a new family of performance-oriented yet value- priced desktop PCs from GATEWAY, INC.'s subsidiary. The Select 800 uses a 800- MHz version of the chip. It comes standard with 128 MB of 100-MHz SDRAM memory, a 27.3-GB hard drive and a 19-inch color monitor. Its partner, the Select 700, features, as its name suggests, a 700-MHz Athlon processor. The base configuration also has 128 MB of 100-MHz SRAM memory, but hard-drive capacity is 20 GB and the monitor is a 17-inch color unit. In the United States, the Select 700 starts at $1,700, while the Select 800 costs $2,400 and up.
In one of its more inspired moves, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced to almost instant success last year the Japan-only Aptiva 20J line of under-$1,000 desktop PCs. To ensure the continued popularity of the current-gen-eration Aptiva 27J, the company upgraded performance while keeping the price below the critical $1,000 point. The new model features a 500-MHz version of the AMD-K6-2 processor. It also is equipped with 64 MB of system memory, a 10-GB hard drive, a 40X CD-ROM drive and a 15-inch CRT monitor. That package costs $950. Eliminating the monitor drops the cost to only $760.
In what apparently is the first design win for the mobile AMD-K6-2-P processor with 3DNOW! technology in Japan, NEC CORP. is using the 400-MHz version of the ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. engine to power a new family of notebook PCs for the commercial market, the VersaPro R, as well as the LaVie U line for the Japanese consumer market. Both series incorporate a 12.1-inch TFT LCD display and such ease-of- use features as a one-touch button for Internet and e-mail use. By going with the AMD processor, NEC was able to list the LaVie U notebook at less than $1,700, a pricing first for Japan's PC leader. .....The two new lines of NEC CORP. notebook computers also incorporate the CyberBLADE i7 integrated three-dimensional graphics solution from TRIDENT MICROSYSTEMS, INC. This design win makes NEC the first OEM customer in Japan for the San Diego, California firm's cost-effective graphics product.
Many of the PowerVault products that DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary introduced in the first year after the line's release targeted the low end of the enterprise storage market. Now, it is going after the high end with the PowerVault 650F and the PowerVault 630F. These products, which support the Fibre Channel standard throughout for improved performance, availability and configuration flexibility, are equipped with 36-GB drives. The PowerVault 630F subsystem holds up to 10 drives for a theoretical capacity of 360 GB. As many as 11 of these subsystems can be linked to a PowerVault 650F, thereby enabling data centers to incrementally increase capacity as the need arises. At the same time, a single Dell server can access up to three PowerVault 650F systems, further multiplying storage possibilities. A fully configured PowerVault 630F goes for $20,800.
In the year through April 2000, network file server supplier NETWORK APPLIANCE, INC. hopes to lift sales in Japan to 10 percent of revenues from 7 percent. To this end, the Santa Clara, California company's subsidiary is negotiating with various companies to expand its distribution channels. Since late 1998, NetApp has had an OEM deal with FUJITSU, LTD. to sell and support its network-attached storage systems. Staffing at the marketing unit also will be doubled to 12 people by the spring and to 15 by the fall. In addition, NetApp will set up a Japanese-language home page.
Systems like NetApp's are designed for enterprise storage environments. However, the marketing unit of Irvine, California-based LINKSYS has introduced a network-attached storage device for smaller offices. Its 20-GB GigaDrive can be connected directly to a PC via a 10Base-T or 100Base-T Ethernet cable and a Fast Ethernet network card. Another useful feature is the inclusion of a print server that supports Windows 95/98/NT/2000 clients and any enabled TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol) printers and clients. In addition, the GigaDrive, which costs about $760, has an indicator on the case that shows how much of the 20-GB drive is filled.
The HP SureStore DAT40, the latest backup device from HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. based on the DDS-4 (digital data storage) format, transfers 40 GB of data in less than two hours (assuming 2:1 compression) onto a tape. That speed plus a price of $5,300 for an internal model and $5,600 for an external one prompted HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. to project sales of 5,000 HP SureStore DAT40 units in the first year.
The decision by TEKTRONIX, INC. to sell its color printing and imaging division to XEROX CORP. was quickly followed by the announcement that FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. would acquire the Asian Pacific color printer business of equally owned SONY TEKTRONIX CORP. Industry sources put the purchase price at $71.4 million. In Japan, the operations will be reestablished as PHASER PRINTING JAPAN CO., LTD., a wholly owned Fuji Xerox subsidiary. Sales are expected to start in the spring. Some 70 people who work in Sony Tek's color printer unit will move over to Phaser Printing. Fuji Xerox expects Asian Pacific sales of the former Sony Tek business to total $57.1 million in the first year. In Japan, the Tek-made systems account for less than 10 percent of color printer sales. However, in countries like Australia, Singapore and Taiwan, they are second in market share only to HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. color printers.
EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary has on the market the KODAK PROFESSIONAL 8660 Thermal Printer. Attractively priced at $8,500, the raster-based printer is touted as delivering color prints that are equal in quality and durability to traditional photographic prints. Moreover, the copies, printed on Kodak thermal media, can be sized from 5 x 7 inches up to 8.5 x 11, 12 or 14 inches.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
A second big Japanese consumer electronics manufacturer is using KOPIN CORP.'s CyberDisplay as the monochrome viewfinder in one of its camcorders. MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. has incorporated the 0.24-inch (diagonal) transmissive active-matrix LCD in the Panasonic NV-VZ-1 camcorder that is shipping to the European market. The Tauton, Massachusetts firm's lightweight and energy-efficient product replaces the bulky, high-voltage CRT traditionally used in camcorder viewfinders. MOTOROLA INC. is supplying the ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) chip that is the electronics interface between the CyberDisplay and the Panasonic camcorder. Kopin described the value of the MEI order as only in the multimillion-dollar range. Last July, VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. began shipping its new CyberCam camcorder equipped with a CyberDisplay to the U.S. market.
Building on an existing marketing agreement (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 17), LCD module supplier THREE-FIVE SYSTEMS, INC. gave MITSUI & CO., LTD. exclusive sales and distribution rights in Japan to three advanced display products currently in or nearing production. They are the LCiD (liquid crystal intense display), the LCaD (liquid crystal active drive) and the thumbnail-size LCoS (liquid crystal on silicon) technology, which the Tempe, Arizona manufacturer says is capable of resolutions up to and including high-definition TV. Three-Five Systems expects its microdisplay to be used not only in HDTV sets but also in such products as computer monitors and mobile phones with video display linkages.
Forthcoming Panasonic-brand portable digital audio players from MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. will be optimized for use with AUDIBLE, INC.'s Internet audio service. The Wayne, New Jersey fir has more than 20,000 hours of spoken audio programming available at its Audible.com site, including selected content from leading newspapers and magazines and books from best-selling authors. The security features of the SD Memory Card that will be used in the envisioned AudibleReady portable devices will ensure copyright protection for the Audible.com material while providing the capacity needed for playback.
ZAYANTE, INC. a major force behind the IEEE 1394 standard for easily and inexpensively interconnecting computing and consumer electronics products in the home signed SUMISHO ELECTRONIC DEVICES CORP. to distribute and support its home networking silicon and software products and services. NIPPON TECHNO LAB, INC. will work with SED to help adapt Zayante's software to specific customer requirements. The Scotts Valley, California company's current focus in Japan is on such key 1394 markets as imaging and printing products and mass storage. Last summer, Zayante incorporated a Tokyo subsidiary in its effort to emerge as the top supplier of IEEE 1394 solutions (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 18).
The pioneering digital color-changing lighting products developed and manufactured by COLOR KINETICS INC. will be available in Japan through master distributor ALS, INC. At the heart of the Boston company's line is its Chromacore technology, which generates colored light using a processor chip to control the mixing of next-generation red, green and blue LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The IC controls both the color combinations 16.7 million are possible and the intensity of light to achieve various colored light effects. The upshot, Color Kinetics says, is that its products create a whole new range of lighting possibilities. Tokyo-based ALS, which does landscape and entertainment lighting, expects sales of the Color Kinetics line to reach at least $952,400 in the first year and perhaps even double that total.
The Power Commander motor controller made by POWER EFFICIENCY CORP. has gotten its foot in corporate Japan's door in a big way. Members of the Toyota Group are using the product, which delivers electricity to alternating-current motors only when and in the amounts needed, in the final stages of a testing program involving stamping machines, drilling presses, conveyors and other manufacturing equipment. The Hackensack, New Jersey supplier expects "substantial" follow-on orders from the Toyota Group in the second quarter of 2000. Distributor HANEDA & CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 18) arranged this deal as well as one with HITACHI ELEVATOR CO., LTD. in Singapore.
Under a sublicensing agreement, BEI TECHNOLOGIES, INC. will allow TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. to make a micromachined quartz rotation-rate sensor for use in electronic stability-control systems in vehicles built by Japan's top automotive producer for sale at home. The San Francisco-headquartered company noted that the deal does not preclude AKEBONO BRAKE INDUSTRY CO., LTD., its marketing partner since the fall of 1998, from selling BEI quartz-rate sensors to other Japanese vehicle manufacturers. It also held out the possibility that Toyota might end up purchasing sensors through Akebono Brake. BEI Technologies is the world's leading manufacturer of solid-state gyroscopic rate sensors for a variety of stability-control applications.
Two products are being added to the output of AMP INC.'s factory in Oigawa, Shizuoka prefecture. One is a special connector that the TYCO ELECTRONICS CORP. subsidiary calls a New Card Bus Double Slot Assembly. This holding device enables the 32-bit PC Cards used in notebook computers to provide expanded functions while taking up a minimum of space. To meet different notebook design requirements, several board mounting options are available, while the eject button can be positioned on either the left or the right. AMP expects to produce 1 million double slots a year. The connector is priced at $14.30 each. The big connector maker also is projecting an annual production run of 7 million units for its 2.5-millimeter-pitch, space-saving battery connectors for mobile equipment. This family previously was available only as a 10-position connector. However, AMP introduced 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-position types to meet the varied requirements of such products as notebook computers and mobile phones.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Sooner than expected, the four primary units of what now is EXXON MOBIL CORP. have decided how to consolidate operations to cut costs in Japan's thin-margin oil industry (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 17). For starters, the group's oil- refining businesses will be merged July 1 through the combination of TONEN CORP. and GENERAL SEKIYU K.K. and their own production affiliates. For the present at least, no plans exist to close any of the affected refineries, although excess capacity is an industrywide problem. On the same date, distributors ESSO SEKIYU K.K. and MOBIL SEKIYU K.K. will form a marketing company to handle sales of gasoline and other petroleum products, including lubricants, supplied by Exxon Mobil. This company also will integrate the marketing functions of the planned Tonen/General Sekiyu. Effective July 1 as well, the accounting, financing, public relations and other administrative functions of the current four major Exxon Mobil firms will be folded into a second new company. In addition to the cost-savings generated by these reorganizations, the Exxon Mobil group will reduce its combined work force by 20 percent by offering early retirement to 730 employees. This cutback will lower annual personnel costs by a projected $114.3 million.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The traditional rap about the venture-capital market in Japan is that it is not well enough developed to give entrepreneurs the support they need. That is starting to change, in part because foreign companies see money to be made. One of them is GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO. In partnership with KYOCERA CORP., the big New York City investment bank has established a $285.7 million fund to invest in start-ups in the information technology, Internet and communications fields. The Kyocera Goldman Sachs Venture Fund expects to invest up to $14.3 million in each company selected. These start- ups will get more than just financial help; they also will receive management backup and even help on the technical front. Interestingly, this is the first time that Goldman, Sachs, which is putting up two-thirds of the capital, has participated in a venture-capital fund. The same is true for Kyocera, which hopes to use its insider status in the high technology world to identify promising investment targets for the fund.
Three-year-old NEOTENY CO., LTD., which specializes in Internet consulting, has raised $18 million from private equity firm J.H. WHITNEY & CO. and $2 million from PSINET INC. of Herndon, Virginia, one of the world's biggest ISPs. The Tokyo company will use this money to transform itself into Japan's first self-financing Internet incubator. It will provide seed financing as well as a host of other services, including space, professional services and staffing support. Four Internet-related start-ups already are being developed. Neoteny hopes to nurture as many as 90 companies over the next three years, although that will require it to attract additional financing. Stamford, Connecticut-based J.H. Whitney recently has become an active investor in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 20).
Fledgling on-line broker MONEX INC. has significantly expanded its capital base and, in the process, acquired the backing of two more powerful foreign investors: GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO. and SOROS FUND MANAGEMENT LLC. Along with a few other investors, they bought three-fourths of newly issued Monex shares worth $29.5 million. Operational since last October when brokerage commission fees were completely deregulated, Monex ranks among Japan's top four Internet securities houses. It will use some of the money raised through the third-party allocation to buy a seat on the Tokyo Stock Exchange so that it can start underwriting companies listing their shares on the TSE's recently opened market for start-ups. Other funds will be used to build up Monex's computer systems to support its growing customer base. J.P. MORGAN & CO., INC. also is a minority investor in Monex (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 360, October 1999, p. 18).
The liberalization of brokerage commission fees has created new demands for low-cost execution of securities trades. Jersey City, New Jersey-based KNIGHT/TRIMARK GROUP, INC., the largest wholesale market maker in U.S. equities, plans to meet that need through a tie-up with NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. As early as September, they will provide wholesale market-making services in Japanese securities. Although the details need to be worked out, the prospective partners hope to attract not only on-line brokerage firms and their clients but also traditional securities houses interested in reducing the costs associated with their own internal market-making operations. The proposed company, the first of its kind in Japan, will handle all listed stocks, including those traded on the over-the- counter market.
The first proprietary bond trading system in Japan should be operational by June 2000. It will be launched by E-BOND SECURITIES CO., LTD., a company to be formed by LEHMAN BROTHERS HOLDINGS INC. and SOFTBANK FINANCE CORP. to offer on-line trading in Japanese bonds. It will deal primarily in thinly traded issues, such as municipal bonds, bank debentures and corporate bonds. By linking buyers and sellers directly through the Internet, E-Bond, its backers say, will create a much-needed secondary market for low-liquidity securities. That will make it easier for local governments, banks and nonfinancial companies to raise money while also reducing the risk to investors of putting their money in bonds. Initially, Lehman Brothers will have a 40 percent stake in E-Bond to Softbank Finance's 60 percent share, but the pair expects to bring in other companies before on-line trading starts. A December 1998 amendment to the Securities and Exchange Law opened the door for proprietary trading systems.
The lifeline that AETNA INTERNATIONAL INC. threw out to HEIWA LIFE INSURANCE CO., LTD. last year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 22) has been strengthened. The big Hartford, Connecticut company, which acquired a third of the second-tier insurer's shares at the time, spent $33.8 million to increase its ownership to 92.3 percent. As of April 1, Tokyo-headquartered Heiwa Life will be renamed AETNA- HEIWA LIFE INSURANCE CO., LTD. Before then, Aetna will pump $39 million into the company to better position it to retain existing policyholders as well as attract new ones. Aetna personnel already are working with Heiwa Life in the areas of distribution, product development and asset management.
ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO. has pulled out of the Japanese automobile insurance market after deciding that its resources could be more effectively deployed elsewhere. Until November 1997, the big property and casualty insurer had a joint venture with the Seibu Group that sold a variety of nonlife insurance products. In early 1998, Allstate formed its own subsidiary, which began to sell auto policies by phone and mail in April 1999.
Collaborators since 1966, Lincoln Re, the life reinsurance operation of LINCOLN FINANCIAL GROUP, and KYOEI LIFE INSURANCE CO., the Japanese reinsurance leader, will market services to help life insurers spread the risks of big payouts. KYOEI LINCOLN REINSURANCE SERVICES CO., LTD., which will be in business before the end of the first quarter, will be mainly owned by the Fort Wayne, Indiana company. It will contribute to KLR Services its state-of-the-art risk-management technology, products and services. Kyoei Life brings to the venture its customer base, distribution systems and understanding of Japan's life insurance market and products. In March 1999, Lincoln Re and Kyoei Life entered into a $333.3 million financial reinsurance agreement covering a block of whole life policies.
In anticipation of the introduction of defined contribution pension plans in early 2001, PRINCIPAL FINANCIAL GROUP, the largest administrator of 401(k)-type plans in the United States, and ING GROUP NV of the Netherlands formed an equally owned venture in Tokyo to move into the pension field. The firm will begin operations in the first quarter of 2001. The strength of Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal is providing retirement services to small and midsize companies, a huge market in Japan. ING has sold a range of life insurance products locally since 1986. It has 26 branch offices located in all major cities. Its policies are handled by 5,000 independent agencies as well as by the company's own staff of 200 agents.
Companies setting up defined contribution pension plans soon will be able to contract for consulting services from investment manager FRANK RUSSELL CO. The Tacoma, Washington company hopes this diversification will gain it clients for its pension plan management business. Frank Russell currently offers investment trusts (Japanese-style mutual funds) in conjunc-tion with BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 19).
RISKMETRICS GROUP, which provides risk measurement and analysis to the financial community, opened an office in Tokyo, its first in the Asian Pacific region. The New York City company already has a number of Japanese clients. It also serves multinationals with local operations, including J.P. MORGAN & CO., INC., from which RMG was spun out in September 1998 as an independent venture. Its products span the RiskMetrics, CreditMetrics, DataMetrics and CorporateMetrics risk measurement tools.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Ready-to-use packaged fresh vegetables are catching on in Japan just as they have in the United States. DOLE FOOD CO. introduced this convenience in 1998 when it opened a processing plant in Takasaki, Gunma prefecture. The company now has built a second plant at a cost of $38.1 million in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture. It has the capacity to turn out between 120,000 and 150,000 packages of cut vegetables a day versus the initial Dole factory's output of 50,000 to 60,000 bags daily. With the second plant and the product's growing popularity, Dole's subsidiary is projecting sales of ready-to-use vegetables at $24.8 million in 2000, about two-and-a-half times higher than last year.
Rising food safety concerns in Japan are creating new opportunities for GENETIC ID INC., which has made a name for itself by testing crops and processed foods for genetically modified organisms. One that the Fairfield, Iowa firm will exploit in the near term through its affiliate is to certify that produce is chemical-free. To do that, Genetic ID will sample crops before harvesting and test them afterward for various agricultural chemicals. The service will cost about $2,400 for 12 acres or so of farmland. The company expects to win contracts from roughly 50 groups of farmers a year for this service. .....In the meantime, through a tie-up with GENETIC ID INC., Kyoto's FALCO BIOSYSTEMS LTD. is moving into the emerging field of testing and certifying whether soybeans, corn and other bulk crops have been bioengineered as well as whether food products contain GMOs. Initially, Falco Biosystems will subcontract the work to the American company. After about a year, however, it plans to start testing on its own, although the certification process is likely to be handled by a joint venture between the two firms.
For its part, FARM VERIFIED ORGANIC, INC., one of the world's leading organic certification organizations, expects a strong increase in its local business once the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries implements in April new requirements for foods that are labeled organic. The Medina, North Dakota company, which operates in Japan and elsewhere overseas as INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATION SERVICES, INC., has had a Yokohama subsidiary since 1996. Interestingly, Farm Verified Organic's standards for organic foods are stiffer than the forthcoming Japan Agricultural Standards' rules. ICS's inspections cover both farms and processing facilities.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Pittsburgh's METALSITE, L.P., the company that pioneered buying and selling metals over the Internet, will help bring the new world of electronic commerce to the steel business in Japan. Its partners will be ITOCHU CORP., MARUBENI CORP. and SUMITOMO CORP. Big traders like these handle all of the steel shipped in Japan, even to the largest users like vehicle manufacturers. Currently, they are linked to steel mills and customers through EDI (electronic data interchange) systems that major steelmakers have operated for years. The proposed Internet trading system will go beyond this system. Most of the details of the MetalSite initiative, including ownership shares and the addition of other partners, still must be worked out. However, tentative plans call for forming a joint venture in the spring and launching the Web site, which will use software developed by MetalSite and customized for Japanese business practices, sometime in the third quarter. Initially, it now is thought, trading will be limited to the three trading companies, their affiliates and their customers.
KITAMURA VALVE MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. now is part of multinational conglomerate TYCO INTERNATIONAL LTD. Japan's dominant maker of ball valves for so-called severe-service applications in the chemicals and petrochemicals industries and an international marketer under the KTM brand name, the Saitama prefecture supplier was acquired for an undisclosed price by the European operation of Houston, Texas-based KEYSTONE VALVE USA, INC., a key member of Tyco Flow Control, itself one of Exeter, New Hampshire-headquartered Tyco International's four business segments. Industry sources speculate that in time, Tyco Flow Control could consolidate its worldwide valve business in Japan to take advantage of the former Kitamura Valve's manufacturing prowess, broad line of ball valves as well as pneumatic actuators and reputation for quality products.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
With an eye on gaining share in the very competitive market for compact (less than 6 tons) hydraulic excavators in both Japan and the United States, SHIN CATERPILLAR MITSUBISHI LTD. will integrate development activities for all of its excavators in the hope of achieving synergies. The 10-person Kanagawa prefecture team now working on mini- excavators will relocate to Hyogo prefecture, where Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi's development center for midsize and large hydraulic shovels is located. That reorganization is expected to benefit the compact excavators developed for sale by CATERPILLAR INC. Exports of 4.5-ton and 5.5-ton shovels to the world leader in earthmoving equipment were scheduled to start in February. .....Owners of SHIN CATERPILLAR MITSUBISHI LTD. construction equipment will have more opportunities to replace such worn-out components as engines, transmissions, hydraulic cylinders and hydraulic pumps with recycled parts. The company's CMEC CO., LTD. subsidiary in Sagamihara, Kanagawa prefecture, which is in charge of refurbishing parts, will recycle a wider range of parts. Shin Caterpillar Mitsubishi estimates that a recycled engine or transmission costs about half what a new one does.
HELISYS INC., a manufacturer of systems for rapid prototyping and direct manufacturing, licensed TOYODA MACHINE WORKS, LTD. to make and market in Japan its Helisys Laminated Object Manufacturing equipment. Like other rapid prototyping systems, the LOM system is capable of directly producing parts, models and molds from three- dimensional computer-aided design software using Helisys' proprietary technology. The multiyear technology licensing agreement, the Torrance, California company says, represents the latest evolution of its relationship with big machine tool builder Toyoda Machine Works, enabling Helisys to better meet the requirements of customers in the world's third-largest market for rapid prototyping equipment.
In an important win for HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.'s innovative distributed power source (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 20), exclusive distributor TOKYO BOEKI LTD. delivered six 75-kW TurboGenerators to MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. A key selling point of the microgas turbine is a power- generating efficiency of 28.5 percent. The units shipped to MELCO are rated at 27 percent, but by late summer, Honeywell International engineers expect to raise efficiency to the advertised level. The TurboGenerator was developed by the power systems group of the former AlliedSignal Inc., which in December merged with Honeywell Inc. to form Honeywell International.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The Japan Defense Agency's Ground Self-Defense Force is purchasing 11 GammaCam gamma-ray imaging systems from AIL SYSTEMS INC. to support emergency response teams in the event of another nuclear accident. Unlike other portable radiation detection devices that must be carried into a potentially dangerous site, the Deer Park, New York manufacturer's product can be operated from distances of up to 1,575 feet. Moreover, the information captured is displayed in real time on a remotely located computer display. ITOCHU CORP. represented AIL in the $5.2 million deal. In the wake of last September's accident at a nuclear fuel processing facility in Ibaraki prefecture, the trader believes that it can sell 100 GammaCams over the next five years to utilities, research institutes, universities and hospitals as well as to nuclear fuel processing plants.
The nuclear accident also has created interest in an alternative to the use of radioactive nuclear isotopes to sterilize medical products. That, in turn, has provided an opening for TITAN CORP., the developer of an electron-beam technology for medical product sterilization as well as for food pasteurization. The San Diego, California company is working with MITSUBISHI CORP. and a subsidiary specifically formed to introduce Titan's SureBeam technology to Japan. The new firm, in which the American business will acquire a minority interest, will purchase a turnkey system and set up a demonstration center in the coming months. Titan and Mitsubishi already are collaborating on product testing and procedures for converting users of Cobalt 60 for sterilization to SureBeam. They also will attempt to gain regulatory approval for the use of electron-beam technology for food pasteurization.
NANOGEN, INC., the developer of the semiconductor-based NanoChip instrument system, has awarded commercial manufacturing and distribution rights to its fully automated genetic microarray system to HITACHI, LTD. for certain research markets. A leader in the genetic analysis instrument field, the electronics giant will contribute proprietary technology to the project as well as provide technical support to get production of the NanoChip system off the ground. Hitachi also has nonexclusive rights to sell the San Diego, California company's NanoChip cartridges in Japan. The NanoChip system, which enables rapid identification and analysis of test samples containing charged molecules, currently is undergoing beta testing.
Completing an agreement that has been in the works since last year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 14), PARACELSIAN, INC. gave KUBOTA CORP. exclusive rights to manufacture and market in Japan its Ah Immunoassay for detecting dioxin contamination in the environment. Dioxin contamination is a severe problem in Japan, mainly because huge volumes of waste are burnt everyday in municipal incinerators. The Ithaca, New York biotechnology company's test is a faster and far less expensive way of testing incinerator ash for this carcinogenic agent than existing systems. Kubota plans to start making the Ah Immunoassay in January 2001. The kit will be priced around $1,900, but each one can be used to test 10 to 20 samples. The Paracelsian licensee expects to build this product into a $47.6 million annual business in five years.
The Dektak OSP-1100 flat-panel display surface profiler codeveloped by VEECO INSTRUMENTS INC. and distributor ULVAC JAPAN, LTD. already has generated orders totaling more than $2 million from display manufacturers in Japan as well as in South Korea and Taiwan. The profiler, which is manufactured by the Veeco Metrology Group in Santa Barbara, California, was a response to the trend toward larger and larger flat-panel displays. The Dektak OSP-1100 can measure the thickness of thin film transistors and color filters during the production process for displays measuring up to 43 x 43 inches.
SHIMADZU CORP. soon could represent the full line of medical imaging systems produced by Cleveland-headquartered MARCONI MEDICAL SYSTEMS (formerly Picker International, Inc.). Their relationship dates back 10 years when the Japanese maker of precision instruments, including diagnostic imaging equipment, began to distribute Marconi's nuclear medicine systems. Last year, the MARCONI PLC unit added its high- end, shared-platform 1.0T Polaris and 1.5T Eclipse magnetic resonance imaging systems to the original MRI product line that Shimadzu handled. The distribution arrangement also was broadened in 1999 to cover a single-slice computed tomography system. Now, the two companies are discussing the possibility of Shimadzu selling Marconi's multislice CT scanners, including the Mx8000 CT scanner, and such oncology products as the ACQSIM CT simulation system. Existing products covered by the distribution arrangement are sold under the brand names of both companies. Moreover, Marconi and Shimadzu have codeveloped Japanese-language interfaces to facilitate operation of the U.S. manufacturer's medical imaging systems.
Switching marketing approaches, DIAGNOSTIC ULTRASOUND CORP., a supplier of 3D ultrasound products, established a direct sales and support channel through the establishment of TOUCHMETRICS K.K. The Redmond, Washington company's line had been handled by SUMITOMO CORP. With the opening of the Diagnostics Products subsidiary, the trader will become a nonexclusive distributor of such equipment as the BVI 3000 system. This all-digital product is intended for noninvasive bladder management. By avoiding the need for catheterization, it contributes to a big reduction in urinary tract infections.
A company that is developing an alternative to ionizing radiation to prevent the regrowth of tissue inside stented coronary arteries has forged a Japan tie. PHARMASONICS, INC. gave GOODMAN CO., LTD. exclusive distribution rights for six years to its URx intravascular sonotherapy system. In return, the importer and wholesaler of medical equipment will make a $6 million equity investment in Sunnyvale, California-based PharmaSonics. This money will help the company complete clinical trials and introduce worldwide its ultrasonic-based approach to reducing poststenting restenosis rates. PharmaSonics says that its procedure not only eliminates the risks associated with radiation but also is less expensive than that method of treatment as well as much simpler.
BIONX IMPLANTS, INC. awarded exclusive Japanese distribution rights to its resorbable urology stent products to TORAY MEDICAL CO., LTD. The wholly owned TORAY INDUSTRIES, LTD. subsidiary will be responsible for obtaining Ministry of Health and Welfare marketing approval for the Blue Bell, Pennsylvania firm's stent products. Toray Medical also will provide an undisclosed amount of funding to Bionx Implants for the development and registration of current and future products targeted at urology applications. This deal will free Bionx Implants to focus investments on its core orthopedic and craniofacial surgery implant businesses.
ARTHROCARE CORP. has broadened its distribution arrangement with KOBAYASHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. The Osaka importer and wholesaler of medical equipment has handled the Sunnyvale, California company's Coblation-based arthroscopic system since 1997. Now, once it gains MHW marketing clearance, Kobayashi Pharmaceutical will distribute ArthroCare's Coblation-based ear, nose and throat and spinal surgery products. These systems, which consist of a controller unit and various disposable devices specialized for the type of surgery being performed, enable surgeons to remove, shrink or sculpt soft tissue while simultaneously sealing bleeding vessels. By limiting damage to surrounding tissue, ArthroCare say, its products potentially reduce the pain experienced by patients and aid recovery.
Disappointed with the sales results achieved by CENTURY MEDICAL INC., orthopedic joint replacement products maker ENCORE MEDICAL CORP. dropped that company and gave SENKO MEDICAL INSTRUMENT MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. exclusive distribution rights to its entire orthopedic joint line. The Tokyo firm already marketed some of the Austin, Texas company's trauma products, which gave it an inside track. However, Senko Medical Instrument had to cancel a distribution deal with another maker of orthopedic implant products to take over the Encore account. Encore makes products for hip, knee and shoulder replacements.
Continuing its push into the largely untapped market for prefillable syringes (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), BECTON DICKINSON AND CO.'s subsidiary introduced the single-use UniJect syringe. It is being sold to drug companies for dosage volumes of 0.5, 1 and 2 milliliters. Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based Becton Dickinson also plans to market in Japan prefilled pen-style syringes for home use in anticipation of strong growth in the market for self-injected drugs.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
All of the DRAMs produced by KMT SEMICONDUCTOR, LTD. of Nishiwaki, Hyogo prefecture go to the joint venture's minority owner, MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. The Boise, Idaho chipmaker has signed up another company to market these products in Japan. FUJI ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. joins such other distributors as SHINSHO CORP. The Tokyo IC trader anticipates that its Micron business will generate first-year revenues of $47.6 million. Last year, Micron and KOBE STEEL, LTD., its partner in KTM Semiconductor, announced a major expansion program.
In a worldwide release, INTEL CORP. introduced mobile Pentium III processors running at 600 MHz and 650 MHz. The two parts, which are fabricated using the chipmaker's new 0.18-micron process know-how, feature the Intel SpeedStep technology. It automatically switches a portable computer between a battery-opti-mized performance mode, when the two processors operate at 500 MHz, and a maximum performance mode that is nearly equivalent to a desktop system when the machine is connected to an AC power source. All of the PC makers competing in Japan, whether American or Japanese, announced high- end notebook computer models incorporating the latest Intel mobile processors.
ECHELON CORP., the developer of LONWORKS control networks, authorized TOSHIBA CORP. to produce and market Neuron Chips and derivatives for another 10 years. Neuron Chips provide the logic for the Palo Alto, California company's open, interoperable control networking systems, which enable users to connect a range of LONWORKS-compatible motors, switches and valves to such equipment as security systems, light switches and heating and cooling systems in a peer-to-peer networked environment. Toshiba has manufactured Neuron Chips since they were introduced in 1992. Japan is turning into a key LONWORKS market.
Handsets for the 64-kilobit-per-second high-speed packet data service that DDI CORP. and IDO CORP. just launched on the nationwide cdmaOne network use the MSM3000 chipset and high-speed packet data software from QUALCOMM INC., the originator of the CDMA (code-division multiple access) digital wireless technology. These handsets give DDI and IDO customers fast Internet access. The first companies to develop handsets for the new service using Qualcomm's chipset and system software were CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD., HITACHI, LTD., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP.
TERALOGIC, INC., which is making a name for itself as a developer of ICs and software for advanced TVs, set-top boxes and PC-TV convergence products, has won another customer from the ranks of Japan's big consumer electronics manufacturers (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 27). MATSUSHITA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS CO., LTD. will integrate the Mountain View, California firm's Janus HDTV chip and reference platform into an add-on card that will bring to PCs the advantages of high-defi-nition digital video and audio as well as data broadcasting services. One of MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s U.S. marketing units will release the Panasonic DTV PC card later in 2000. The Janus IC, TeraLogic says, is the PC industry's first single chip that is capable of decoding and displaying on a PC all 18 digital TV formats offered in the United States.
In its latest win, ZORAN CORP.'s Vaddis IV DVD decoder chip is the power behind TOSHIBA CORP.'s new generation of four DVD players and their enhanced audio and video capabilities, including 3D virtual surround sound and video zooming. As with earlier Vaddis DVD decoder chips, Santa Clara, California-based Zoran worked with FUJIFILM MICRODEVICES CO., LTD. to bring the Vaddis IV to market.
Big photomask supplier DAI NIPPON PRINTING CO., LTD. has taken delivery of its first MEBES 5500 electron-beam mask pattern generation system from ETEC SYSTEMS, INC. The Hayward, California manufacturer's equipment will enable its longtime customer to pattern masks below 150 nanometers while still retaining excellent resolution, thereby meeting IC makers' requirements for cutting-edge masks. Etec Systems figures that the MEBES 5500 delivers up to 16 times the throughput of earlier MEBES systems.
AMTECH SYSTEMS, INC. secured the first order from a Japanese semiconductor company for its IBAL robotic system for cassette-to-cassette wafer transfer, beating out a large Japanese competitor for the business of the unnamed chipmaker. The Tempe, Arizona manufacturer attributed its win to several IBAL features, including a near-zero footprint, modularity, cost and reliability. Moreover, unlike some competing products, IBAL loads individual boats of wafers without any intermediate phase.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
As part of its strategy of developing content for specific interest groups, AOL JAPAN INC. has created a Web site for older people that includes information on such subjects as nursing care, working past retirement age and estate planning. By clicking on the new "AOL Senior" button in AOL Japan's channel bar, senior Web surfers can enter chat rooms, fill out surveys, search for products geared to their needs and link to 15 carefully selected related Web sites.
Soon-to-be-independent ZDNET INC., the operator of a range of interconnected technology-related sites, is forming a joint venture with YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. and SOFTBANK PUBLISHING INC. to enhance and expand its local Web site. The ZDNet Japan site has been delivering technology content and services since 1997. It offers content from the San Francisco company's American site, plus reporting and editorial material developed by ZDNet's Japan staff and SOFTBANK CORP. sources. ZDNet will own 30 percent of SOFTBANK ZDNET JAPAN K.K., with Softbank Publishing putting up 60 percent of the capital and Yahoo! Japan 10 percent. Among the new additions to ZDNet Japan's Web site will be a localized version of the firm's popular technology investment site, Inter@active Investor.
Aiming to repeat its success at home, INTRANETS.COM, INC. teamed up with HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC., one of the investors in the Woburn, Massachusetts company (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 10), in a business that will develop, maintain and market free intranet portals for small companies and organizations. The partners will offer localized content, support and services, including free Web-site hosting, custom Internet addresses, industry news, calendar scheduling and other collaborative applications. Hikari Tsushin, Japan's largest distributor of wireless communications devices, has a 55 percent stake in the joint venture.
CLICK2LEARN.COM, INC. (formerly Asymetrix Learning Systems, Inc.), SOFTBANK PUBLISHING INC. and the subsidiary of SOFTBANK FORUMS INC. will establish a company to bring the Bellevue, Washington firm's on-line learning portal to business professionals in Japan. The localized click2learn.com portal, which should be operational shortly, will offer off-the-shelf courseware for computer professionals and managers, instructor-led training, books from Softbank Publishing and other printers as well as its own free browser-based, server-side e-courseware authoring and publishing system, click2learn.publisher. click2learn. com will have a 40 percent share in the joint venture, which will be staffed by employees of the two Softbank organizations.
Hoping that its track record with providing real-time stock information via the Internet to 800 American firms will give it credibility in Japan, TIBCO SOFTWARE INC. has allied with three firms to begin offering this service locally. Users of the proposed Tibco.net service, which could start as soon as April, will receive financial information they select, such as stock quotes and news, at predetermined times via their laptop computers or mobile phones. Palo Alto, California-based TIBCO and its partners NTT SOFTWARE CORP., NIPPON STEEL CORP. and TOYO INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. are expected to set up a company to manage and market the new service.
The subsidiary of VALUECLICK INC., the pioneer in pay-per-click Internet advertising, has rolled out a service designed to work with NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC.'s wildly popular i-Mode digital cellular phones. The Carpinteria, California company's software will create text-only ads formatted for the small monochrome screens of i-Mode units. With a single click, users will be sent to the particular advertiser's Web site. As with its regular service, advertisers will pay fees per number of clicks. ValueClick faces competition from CYBER AGENT CO., LTD.'s similar i-Mode advertising system, which was launched in late 1999.
New York City's PROMOTIONS.COM, INC. (formerly Webstakes.com, Inc.) is working with local e-commerce business developer TKAI, INC. to come up with a Japanese version of its Webstakes.com promotions portal. Tokyo-based TKAI will manage the launch of Webstakes.com Japan. It also will provide promotion outsourcing and direct marketing services to customers via the new portal and help its partner sell its permission- based direct marketing technology, iDIALOG. With Internet usage growing rapidly in Asia, Promotions.com sees the Webstakes.com Japan portal as a springboard for selling its advertising and sponsorship services throughout the region.
Japan's flower market has entered the Internet Age with the linkup of e-florist pioneer PC FLOWERS & GIFTS, INC. and top floral retailer HIBIYA KADAN, INC. The Stamford, Connecticut e-tailer will provide Web-site infrastructure and back-office support for a virtual florist shop that Hibiya Kadan will fill with its products and domestic content. The Japanese flower seller, which operates 190 directly owned stores and six design and distribution centers around the country, also will offer this template to its corporate customers for cobranding, allowing them to establish an e-commerce operation with minimal effort.
Competitors are facing off in the arena for business-to-business e-commerce exchanges. In one corner, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary is offering a Japanese version of Oracle Exchange, which is billed as the industry's first open B2B on-line marketplace service. The localized Oracle Exchange allows any registered business to buy goods and services via the Internet while also developing industry-specific trading communities. .....In another corner, VERTICALNET, INC. is partnering with SOFTBANK COMMERCE CORP. to establish a company to launch B2B vertical communities. The joint venture, in which the Horsham, Pennsylvania firm will have a 40 percent stake, will create Japanese versions of VerticalNet's 55 industry-specific B2B trading communities, including their targeted editorial content and services. The first of the industry-focused electronic exchanges will come on-line later this year.
NTT DATA CORP. will build its e-commerce solutions business around NEW ERA OF NETWORKS, INC.'s NEON platform and services. The big Japanese computer networking provider and systems integrator will use the Denver firm's technology to help clients consolidate their existing networks and upgrade them to B2B and business-to- consumer systems. NTT Data projects the partnership will generate $95.2 million in revenues over three years. It will set up an EAI (enterprise application integration) Solution Center staffed by 20 people to support the new endeavor.
MCKINSEY & CO. is offering a competing service, E-Commerce@McKinsey. Besides providing its expertise on technology solutions, network design and implementation, and e- venture management, the consultant will help clients to improve their customer services and relations, enhance shareholder value and guide mergers and acquisitions. McKinsey has six Internet Business Accelerator centers around the world that provide hands-on development and implementation services. It promises to create a fully functional on-line business in three to six months.
Completing its shift from middleware vendor to e-commerce solution provider, the entire BEA SYSTEMS, INC. line of e-commerce-ready server and middleware products now is available through the San Jose, California firm's subsidiary. BEA WebLogic Enterprise 5.0, BEA eLink and BEA Commerce Ready connect exiting business processes and communications together as well as link partners across the Internet. They also serve as the basis for B2B and B2C operations.
An end-to-end Web-site design and e-commerce package for the printing industry is being offered by NEXTRON COMMUNICATIONS INC. via the Web Venture Asia division of Canada's INTERNATIONAL CONSULTING GROUP INC. The Seattle firm's Integrated Creation and Administration System includes a high-volume Web-site publishing module and a back-office application that manages all aspects of a site, including a shopping cart, inventory control and ordering, and multicurrency capabilities. ICAS also will allow pages to be displayed in multiple languages with little effort.
ENCOMMERCE, INC. is expanding the power of its access management package for Internet portals, aiming at the growing demand for personalized Web services. The Santa Clara, California firm is showcasing the enhanced functionality of its getAccess solution at the CANON INC. group's CIPCOM Web site. Besides acting as a doorkeeper to let in only authorized users, getAccess filters CIPCOM's information to over 32,000 Canon Group employees based on a wide range of administrator-determined factors, including the user's division, title, responsibilities, location and security clearance. Canon hopes to enlarge CIPCOM's coverage to include customers, business partners and, eventually, the public.
To help solidify its position as Japan's number-one Internet portal, YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. has absorbed two Web-hosting and on-line information affiliates. The joint venture between YAHOO! INC. and SOFTBANK CORP. will take over GEOCITIES JAPAN CORP., which provides free Web services, and BROADCAST. COM JAPAN INC., which supplies on-line audio and animation (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 23). GeoCities Japan is owned by Softbank (58.2 percent) and Yahoo! Japan, while broadcast.com Japan's backers are Softbank (54.2 percent), BROADCAST.COM INC. of Dallas (44.2 percent) and Yahoo! Japan (1.6 percent).
TIVOLI SYSTEMS INC. is providing the technical know-how for ARGOTECHNOS 21 CORP. to enter the application service provider market. The Tokyo firm will offer customers service packages that include 10 Unix servers and 300 client machines for less than $285,700 a year, a savings of some $142,900 over the cost of buying the hardware and software separately. Argotechnos 21 has set a goal of $2.9 million in ASP revenues in FY 2000.
Santa Clara, California-based XACCT TECHNOLOGIES, INC. chose NISSHO IWAI INFOCOM SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to distribute its quality-of-service tracking and billing package. The carrier-class XACCT-usage family acts as the interface between a company's business and operations support systems and its network infrastructure, allowing IT staff to collect usage data, automate the opening of user accounts and handle billing and payment issues. Nissho Iwai Infocom hopes to sell $4.8 million worth of XACCT products the first year and $47.6 million over three years.
Expanding on this niche, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is offering Smart Internet Usage 2.0 to ISPs and ASPs. In addition to being highly scalable and available for several popular platforms, SIU 2.0 not only takes care of service usage metering but also can measure usage of other ISP/ASP services. With prices starting at $9,100, HP Japan expects sales of SIU 2.0 to hit $2.9 million the first year.
Software for monitoring the customer side of Web-site activities is available from WAVECREST COMPUTING, INC. through exclusive distributor VERTEX LINK CORP. The Melbourne, Florida company's Cyfin package watches e-business processes, automatically detecting misuse of Web resources, collecting useful statistics and generating detailed reports. The partners will concentrate first on penetrating the Japanese market, but they plan to promote Cyfin throughout the Asian Pacific basin.
Sorting the wheat from the chaff (or worse) of the ever-expanding pool of Internet content is the job of N2H2, INC.'s filtering and categorization software and service package. Available through NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP., the Seattle firm has combined state-of-the-art artificial intelligence filters with intensive reviews by human staff to analyze and classify Japanese-language Web sites. The package allows users to screen out undesirable Web content, such as violent or pornographic pages. Nissho Electronics will open a support center staffed by N2H2-trained employees and add N2H2's turnkey, proxy server-based solution as part of its menu of consulting services. N2H2 expects to generate revenues of $3 million to $5 million over the first 18 months of the agreement with Nissho Electronics.
AVATERRA.COM, INC. and NTT SOFTWARE CORP. have joined the Santa Clara, California firm's avatar (customizable, portable personal identities) technology for Internet- based interaction with the Japanese firm's VoiceHive system for computer-Internet telephony integration. The combined software allows users to conduct IP-based teleconferencing with avatars, greatly enhancing the communications experience by providing visual confirmation of the participants and their activity modes (speaking, listening or changing conference rooms). Avaterra.com's software is a key part of NTT Software's drive to commercialize advanced interpersonal Internet-based applications (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 25).
RSA SECURITY INC. and a subsidiary of VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. have combined two of their software products to target the rapidly growing market for secure access to the Internet via non-PC devices. The addition of the Bedford, Massachusetts firm's BSAFE SSL-C encryption software to JVC's i-browser for embedded applications already has drawn interest from cellular phone makers, but it also is suitable for deployment in personal digital assistants, set-top boxes and other digital appliances. .....Separately, RSA SECURITY INC.'s subsidiary is offering trial versions of its authentication server and public key infrastructure solutions to introduce customers to the software. RSA Keon Certificate Server Pilot Pack covers 25 users for $6,700, while RSA Keon Advanced PKI Pilot Pack handles 100 users for $15,200.
The local units of CYBERCASH, INC. and VERISIGN, INC. are working together on a Secure Commerce Pack for e-commerce applications. Bundling CyberCash's Secure CreditCard Service with VeriSign's Secure Server ID authentication solution, the partners hope to boost sales by discounting the price to $1,700.
Two more companies have joined the already substantial list of businesses distributing NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC.'s complete line of enterprise-level security products, including PGP encryption, Sniffer Basic, Sniffer ProLAN and Magic. NAI's subsidiary hopes that the addition of ASSIST CO., LTD. and SUMITOMO CORP. will boost sales by $454,500 every three months. The company's products range in price from $2,800 to $21,400.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. signed MI-TSUI & CO., LTD. to distribute its Praesidium family of single sign-on network access security solutions. In wide use by banks and other financial institutions around the world, Praesidium guards against hacker attacks by tightly controlling access to networks and network resources for e-commerce and electronic banking. The trader and HP Japan plan to set up a security solutions center that will target Praesidium sales to both businesses and government agencies. Praesidium products start at $3,300. Mitsui projects that the new business will produce first-year sales of $9.5 million.
Aided by distributor ADVANCED RESEARCH OF TECHNOLOGIES, INC., Mountain View, California-based RAINFINITY has jumped into the market for firewall software. Rainfinity's Rainwall package brings state-of-the-art clustering power to the computationally intensive task of examining all packets crossing a network's boundary by employing its proprietary RAIN (reliable array of independent nodes) technology. ART priced a single- system Rainwall package at $9,100.
Eyeing the many corporations in Japan that have adopted Exchange Server for messaging and e-mail tasks, VERISIGN, INC.'s local unit is marketing an encryption add-on that offers top performance and easy administration. Go Secure! for Microsoft Exchange is easier to install that competing products because the software resides only on the server and not on client machines.
Targeting a slightly different market, AUTHENTICA SECURITY TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has widened the distribution channels for its PageVault electronic document security solution. The Waltham, Massachusetts firm's products already are handled by two companies (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 27), but the addition of ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. should help to raise sales of PageVault to $4.8 million over the next three years. The package starts at $9,500 for a one-server/five-client license.
Sales of $3.8 million in the fiscal year through March 2001 are forecast for a suite of ENTRUST TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s business security products. Installed on each employee's PC, Entrust Desktop Solutions 5.0 handles file encryption, e-mail encryption, Internet security and user-access control. The Plano, Texas company's affiliate priced the package between $430 and $475.
To push the Linux open-source operating system beyond the specialized IT functions it has captured to date, the subsidiary of TURBOLINUX, INC. has struck deals with four systems integrators to target the enterprise computing market. DIAMOND PC CORP., ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP., RIKEI CORP. and TOYO INFORMATION SYSTEMS CO., LTD. will work with the San Francisco firm to bid on large network IT systems as well as to offer marketing and technical support. The resellers also are eager to promote TurboLinux's Linux clustering solution when it is localized this spring. .....Separately, TURBOLINUX, INC.'s sales unit has published an introduction and instruction product for Linux. Entirely in Japanese and priced around $50, Let's Try Linux was developed for TurboLinux by a PFU LTD. affiliate and TCS LTD.
SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. has blessed an alternative to its Java-based Java Virtual Machine. Developed by Tokyo's ACCESS CO., LTD., JV-Lite2 complies with Sun Microsystems' Java specifications and passes the Java compatibility test. Access will offer JV-Lite2 with an integrated Web browser designed for portable phones, digital TVs and PDAs. Access claims to have 80 percent of the market for browsers embedded in Internet appliances, the result of its pacts with four top makers of i-Mode phones. It hopes to expand its global position in this field.
Underscoring Java's growing following, SYMANTEC CORP.'s operation released localized versions of its parent's latest Java development package. Available in three "strengths" Standard ($140), Expert ($935) and Enterprise ($3,400) Visual Cafe 4 provides a wide range of tools and assistants to quickly create Java applications based on the latest Java specifications and compatible with a wide range of hardware and other software.
Moving into the Japanese market, IVES DEVELOPMENT, INC. produced a fully localized version of its software engineering tools for Lotus Notes and Domino. TeamStudio Design has five components: Analyzer for design analysis, CIAO! client-server for check-in/check- out and version control, Configurator for global search and replace, Delta for differential analysis and Librarian for code reuse. The Beverly, Massachusetts firm is so positive about the Japanese market that it plans to open an office sometime in 2000 to support TeamStudio Design customers.
In order to expand the use of its Digita operating system for digital imaging devices, FLASHPOINT TECHNOLOGY, INC. is seeking partnerships with as many as 100 local software houses to produce Digita-based programs. The San Jose, California company also plans to add more engineers and marketing specialists at its recently opened Tokyo office (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 24). Digita application development kits are priced from $400 to $3,000.
Faced with rapidly rising demand for product support, MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary is gearing up on several fronts. For one thing, it plans to double to 100 the number of technical account managers at its Tokyo headquarters by the middle of the year. It also is forging pacts with such major computer makers as NEC CORP. to offer two support programs. One focuses just on Microsoft products, while the other will backstop a customer's entire IT infrastructure. Finally, Microsoft is repositioning its staff to enable them to make more customer calls with less travel time.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is pursuing this same market by launching a service and support division dedicated to Microsoft products. The Microsoft Service Operations group will target two types of customers. For shops that currently run Unix, it will promote the lower cost yet similarly functional Windows NT. For smaller companies, it will offer a menu of QuickStart packages that includes varying amounts of consulting, programming, setup and maintenance.
In a related move, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has translated its parent's comprehensive management solution for Windows 2000 for local customers. The Japanese version of HP OpenView Express v1.0 manages network, storage and application operations from a unified console. HP Japan expects to install 1,000 of the $28,400 packages in the first year of availability.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary released localized versions of its Web- based IT asset management system. Insight Manager XE collects and integrates information from Compaq and third-party de-vices using a variety of protocols, allowing administrators to monitor and manage heterogeneous groups of servers, clients, clusters and network devices from a single point accessible via any Web browser. A special $860 add-in device, Remote Insight Board/PCI, allows Insight Manager XE to control and reboot servers, even if they have crashed or the network is down.
Enterprise storage powerhouse EMC CORP. has brought its latest SAN (storage area network) product to the Japanese market. EMC ControlCenter monitors, configures, fine- tunes and controls data storage resources from a single console that can be accessed directly or via the Internet. Depending on the configuration, EMC ControlCenter is priced from $25,000 to $476,200.
The enterprise application integration market is feeling the impact of the Internet revolution. ACTIVE SOFTWARE, INC. selected NTT SOFTWARE CORP. as the sole distributor of its ActiveWorks Integration System for e-business. ActiveWorks is a key addition to NTT Software's e-commerce consulting service menu because of its proven track record and ability to deliver e-business solutions rapidly. Sales of the Santa Clara, California firm's product will start in April, with NTT Software projecting first-year revenues of $14.3 million.
In the same market segment, ISG INTERNATIONAL SOFTWARE GROUP, LTD. is working with FUJI-TSU SOFTWARE CORP. to provide back-office information integration services. By integrating its INTERSTAGE application server with the Burlington, Massachusetts firm's Navigator enterprise information infrastructure, Fujitsu Software can offer complete e-commerce, B2B and B2C applications. ISG products are distributed by MITSUI & CO., LTD.
Four months after it went on sale, GLOVIA INTERNATIONAL LLC landed the first contract for the Japanese version of its enterprise resource planning system. IWAKI ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. will use glovia.com/5 to create an integrated, Internet-based production and purchasing system that will cover its three product lines hybrid ICs, system devices and power supplies and its plants in Fukushima prefecture, China and Taiwan. Iwaki Electronics, a FDK CORP. company, expects to spend between $1.9 million and $2.9 million to implement glovia.com/5. El Segundo, California-based Glovia opened a subsidiary last year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 30).
A metal-press computer-aided manufacturing solution developed by NIHON UNISYS, LTD. is available both directly and through ARGOTECHNOS 21 CORP. CADCEUS/DS CAM-P, as Nihon Unisys calls it, or Structure CAM v3 uses electronic engineering and design data in multiple formats to generate instructions for computer-controlled machining centers. However, it also can handle virtual prototyping of models and production lines. The partners hope to land 60 customers for the $68,600 CAM software.
CENTRIC SOFTWARE, INC. enlisted INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD. as the first value-added reseller of its PIVOTAL product life-cycle solution. The San Jose, California firm's software manages a product from conceptual design, analysis and simulation through virtual assembly, manufacturing, training and maintenance. ISID first will concentrate on selling PIVOTAL to manufacturers at home, but it and Centric Software plan a joint attack on other Asian markets in the future.
MANUGISTICS, INC.'s operation is working hard to bring out a localized version of its next-generation supply chain management solution, NetWORKS. The SCM package comes in industry-specific versions that are then tailored further to the needs of individual clients. The main addition to NetWORKS is eXtensible Markup Language support, a technology that promises to allow disparate systems to exchange data and processes with ease. .....In the meantime, MANUGISTICS, INC.'s subsidiary linked up with JAPAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. to offer SCM consulting and solutions. Although the Rockville, Maryland company already provides SCM know-how to more than 30 Japanese clients, the partnership is expected to generate significantly greater business thanks to JRI's consulting strengths.
In yet another key contract win, STRUCTURAL RESEARCH DYNAMICS CORP. has a three-year, multimillion-dollar commitment from DENSO CORP., the world's fourth-largest automotive parts maker, to install the Metaphase Enterprise product data management solution. SDRC will integrate its PDM package into Denso's Engineering Core Computing System to unify the firm's worldwide design environment, boost responsiveness to customer needs and reduce development cycle times. NK-EXA CORP., one of SDRC's distributors, landed the Denso contract.
Taking direct aim at STRUCTURAL RESEARCH DYNAMICS CORP.'s number-one ranking in the PDM market, NIHON UNISYS, LTD. has introduced a complete line of products to compete in this field. UNISYS CORP.'s PDM Suite faces an uphill battle but, noting the trend among corporations to integrate all aspects of their IT operations, the subsidiary is touting its broader experience and product family as reasons to give the Unisys PDM software and services a try.
Targeting high-volume call center operations, ROCKWELL ELECTRONIC COMMERCE CORP. launched its Spectrum Integrated Call Center System, an industrial-strength call- directing solution. Spectrum can handle 10 incoming calls per second and accepts connections no matter how busy the call center's lines become. With prices beginning at $381,000 for a 100-seat system, distributor MITSUI & CO., LTD. hopes to build annual Spectrum sales to $14.3 million within two years.
SAS INSTITUTE INC. has made FUJITSU BASIC SOFTWARE CORP. its 14th local Alliance Partner. The Tokyo-based company will build customer relationship management and computer-telephony integration solutions based on SAS Institute's data warehousing and data mining software. According to the Cary, North Carolina firm, the versatility of its SAS System integrated suite of software for enterprise-wide information delivery and of its Enterprise Miner for data mining is their main selling point.
The Tokyo operation of LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP. has embarked on a project to develop an Internet-enabled CRM system with knowledge-management characteristics that is built on its Notes/Domino groupware. The e-CRM initiative is aimed at reducing paperwork and increasing responsiveness to customer inquiries. It will make all relevant data available via the Inter-net, filter that data with knowledge-management tools and provide interactive sessions. Lotus Development's unit hopes to find 10 firms to help select the system's features and to serve as test sites.
After testing the CRM market in Japan for more than a year, EXCHANGE APPLICATIONS, INC. has made a major commitment to larger sales there. First, the Boston-based company opened an office in Tokyo. Simultaneously, it released Japanese-language versions of VALEX for enterprise marketing automation and eXstatic for e-mail marketing. Exchange Applications then quickly signed a reseller agreement for VALEX with HITACHI, LTD. and arranged for TELEPHONY INC. to provide marketing assistance. A consulting firm that specializes in the CRM and call-center fields, Telephony introduced the English version of VALEX in the fall of 1998.
Raising its sights toward the higher value-added end of the market, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s operation will begin bundling enterprise-level software, such as ERP, data warehousing and corporate accounting packages, with its more powerful PCs and servers. To further add to profits and efficiency, orders will be taken on-line and fulfilled by sales agents. Compaq hopes this move will help to boost orders over the Internet to 20 percent of 2000 sales from 5 percent last year, when it launched on-line marketing.
The local arm of NOVELL, INC. is marketing a groupware and network operating system package targeted at businesses with up to 100 employees. Novell Small Business Suite 5 includes NetWare 5, GroupWise 5.5, BorderManager Fast Caching Service 3 and ZENWorks 1.1 Start Pack, an administration tool. Customers also can have other applications, including data base, antivirus and Web-server software, installed as part of the package.
LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary has introduced a version of its Domino collaboration server for computers running the Linux open-source operating system. Domino R5 for Linux, which costs $950 per server and is based on the RED HAT, INC. version of Linux, will be integrated into hardware/software solutions offered by IBM JAPAN LTD. (Netfinity servers) and OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD.
To retain its data-base server and development environment's cutting edge, SYBASE, INC. added features to Adaptive Server Enterprise to improve its interoperability and to boost its role in e-business applica-tions. Adaptive Server Enterprise v12.0 integrates Java with its data-base functions, adds extended XML support for storing, retrieving and querying information, and includes distributed transaction management tools to smooth operations in heterogeneous environments. The Japanese version of Adaptive Server Enterprise v12.0 starts at $1,400 for a single-user Windows NT edition. A five-user Unix license costs $20,700.
Going head-to-head with Adaptive Server Enterprise, BRIO TECHNOLOGY, INC. of Palo Alto, California is offering through CANON SALES CO., INC. a new version of its eponymous business intelligence suite and development environment. Brio Enterprise 6.0 claims enhanced support for multidimensional data bases, easier integration with other back- end information analysis products, next-generation analytic reporting and enhanced interactive on-line analytical processing tools. The Japanese version of Brio Enterprise 6.0 is priced from $1,900.
Hoping to set the industry standard in this area, IBM JAPAN LTD. and the subsidiary of Chicago's SPSS INC. are working on a common user interface for their data mining engines. The proposed common front-end will allow customers to transparently integrate IBM Japan's Intelligent Miner and SPSS's Clementine interactive data analysis products. The partners further will codevelop industry-specific versions of their integrated offering and open a customer feedback and support center.
Already a leader in its field, DOMAIN PHARMA CORP. released a fully localized version of its latest clinical trial and product safety information management solution. Clintrial 4 release 4.2J is designed to handle the drug clinical trial process worldwide, to distribute global data and standards, and to accelerate drug development. The solution is available directly from the Lexington, Massachusetts firm's NIHON DOMAIN SOLUTIONS K.K. subsidiary.
ORACLE CORP. has won the first contract in Japan for its new Oracle Financial Analyzer application. Oracle will integrate the accounting data analysis solution with its ERP system already in place at KYUSHU MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC CO., LTD. The installation will generate charts, graphs and other reports for top executives at the firm, who can view and query the confidential accounting data via a Web browser interface.
Hoping to bring some order to the chaos of Japan's accounting software market, MICROSOFT CORP. and local market leader MIROKU JYOHO SERVICE CO., LTD. have developed a financial-information exchange utility program. The $9,300 package accepts data from a wide range of Japanese accounting programs and then outputs information to an equally varied assortment of formats. The program can be tweaked to interface with custom packages as well. Since these two firms hold large shares of the Japanese accounting software market, the utility could encourage customers to switch to their program.
SONIC SOLUTIONS has jumped into the Japanese market with its DVDit! multimedia authoring tool by lining up consumer and OEM marketing channels. SOFTBANK COMMERCE CORP., the main distributor of consumer versions of DVDit!, expects its network of 600 retailers to have trouble meeting demand for the $475 product. The Novato, California firm's OEM partner, MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s Corporate International Trade Division, will bundle DVDit! with its own multimedia software and hardware for sale to PC makers. The software's simple interface and ability to handle multiple input formats are key selling points.
To meet users' demands for collaborative, cross-platform solutions, COCREATE SOFTWARE INC. has added more links to third-party software as well as 3D capabilities to its SolidDesigner 2000 family of CAD programs. A collaboration module connects development teams regardless of location, while a team management module keeps track of all data, activities and customer relationship needs. Three direct data interfaces to process-centric development environments boost interoperability.
Thanks to distributor CYBERNET SYSTEMS CO., LTD., Southpointe, Pennsylvania- based ANSYS, INC. signed a contract with longtime customer HITACHI, LTD. for its automotive products group to install the latest version of the DesignSpace computer-aided engineering solution. DesignSpace will do first-pass engineering simulations for powertrains and electric vehicles, helping the environmentally oriented group to reduce prototyping costs, improve quality and cut development times. Hitachi purchased 38 seats of the ANSYS product.
To support its growing business in Japan, electronic design automation developer SIMPLEX SOLUTIONS, INC. upgraded its Yokohama branch office opened in late 1998 to a full subsidiary. The new unit will take over sales and support of the Sunnyvale, California firm's EDA products from SC HIGHTECH CORP., which has handled these duties for the past three years. SC Hightech's parent, SUMITOMO CORP., is an investor in Simplex. .....SIMPLEX SOLUTIONS, INC.'s newest Japanese customer is TOSHIBA CORP. The big chipmaker will deploy Simplex's Fire & Ice QX extraction interconnection and VoltageStorm power grid analysis tools throughout its global chip design infrastructure. Toshiba will use the tools to meet the stringent verification demands of ultra-deep submicron designs with 0.18-micron and 0.14-micron features. NEC CORP. is Simplex's other major Japanese customer.
Responding to the growing demand to design simultaneously the hardware and the software that make up system chips, EDA leader CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC.'s unit has begun shipping a new package for system-on-a-chip solutions. The Cierto virtual component codesign environment, which runs on both Unix and Windows NT-based workstations, takes an integrated approach to creating SOC hardware and associated software, allowing engineers to compare the capabilities of both aspects of their designs early in the process and to effect changes in midstream. The package is priced from $114,300.
To make its EDA solutions more Internet-friendly, XILINX, INC. released through its subsidiary two utilities that ease the exchange of data across the Web. IP Internet Capture automatically identifies, captures and documents a module of synthesizable VHDL, Verilog code or a fixed function netlist. The system allows captured information to be cataloged for reuse. IP Remote Interface enables designers to create their own graphical user interface and software executables, allowing them to tap into fixed netlists, VHDL and Verilog source to develop their own IP cores. The tool incorporates strong encryption protocols to ensure the security of sensitive information exchanged via the Internet.
Concluding the largest contract in its history, FLUENCE TECHNOLOGY INC. signed a three-year, multimillion-dollar deal with TOSHIBA CORP. to codevelop an open test platform based on the Standard Test Interface Language format adopted last year. To start off, the Beaverton, Oregon company will integrate its TDS design and test software suite into Toshiba's System LSI (large-scale integration) design environment. STIL provides an interface between system verification at the design stage and the production automatic test equipment setup.
An important player in Japan's wireless communications revolution, PHONE.COM, INC., announced that its wireless Internet access technology is being used by DDI CORP. and IDO CORP. to launch PacketOne CDMA-based packet communications service as part of their nine-month-old EZweb and EZaccess wireless Internet access services. Mobile phones equipped with the Redwood City, California firm's UP.Browser microbrowser can receive e-mail, view more than 200 specially formatted Web sites and access Internet- based applications. More than 3 million people subscribe to the nationwide cdmaOne services offered by DDI and IDO.
PUMA TECHNOLOGY, INC. will introduce a Japanese version of its no-fee Internet- based synchronization service in the third quarter of 2000. Intellisync.com will allow any user with Internet access to keep PC-based applications, mobile devices and Web-based content and services synchronized from one central Internet address. The San Jose, California firm's early announcement no doubt was intended to defend its posi-tion in the market for synchronization software from a growing number of competitors (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, pp. 29-30).
Preparing for the activation of Japan's broadband infrastructure, NTS, INC. of Sunnyvale, California signed a marketing agreement with TERILOGY CO., LTD. covering its EnterNet broadband subscriber services software. Once installed on a client computer, the package makes it simple to connect to a high-speed network using the Internet point-to-point protocol. Initially available in English, EnterNet will be released in Japanese sometime in the spring. The Tokyo distributor has targeted Internet service providers and communications carriers for its initial sales effort in the hope of generating revenues of $952,400 the first year.
Similarly, PACKETVIDEO CORP. will provide its broadband testing solution for next- generation wireless networks to NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. The San Diego, California firm's software will allow NTT DoCoMo to verify that its hardware meets the 3G-324M standard for broadband digital wireless networks and to check the interoperability of various mobile terminals with is third-generation system. PacketVideo's technology is critical to NTT DoCoMo's plan to begin third-generation digital wireless operations at the start of 2001, offering users real-time, two-way audio and video services on their cellular devices.
Although transmission quality issues remain, many individuals and companies are embracing Internet-based telephony as a cost-saving technology. NTT WORLDWIDE TELECOMMUNICATIONS CORP. is one of the companies moving to meet this demand. It has created a global IP telephony clearinghouse and network based on IP telephony products supplied by CLARENT CORP. of Redwood City, California. Customers will be able to place calls from within their corporate network for routing by NTT WorldWide's NTT Communications Clearinghouse service to outside phones around the world.
To help communications carriers and large network operators subject their systems to real- world stresses, AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s subsidiary released a localized version of the StormSession network traffic generator test utility. In conjunction with such protocol testing software as Agilent's recently acquired QA Robot, StormSession allows users to evaluate end-to-end routing performance by simulating simultaneously up to 20,000 different communications sessions. Agilent hopes to sell about 30 of the $16,100 packages annually.
Multinational corporations considering deployment of a single global network that carries voice, data and video information will be interested in a new simulation and testing service from NCR CORP. and CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. The partners have connected Multi- service Networking Centers located in Tokyo and in six other cities around the globe with a high-speed network and invited customers to use the secure system to plan, design and test their own multiservice network architectures, infrastructures and applications. Not only will companies benefit by developing well-tested network systems, but the Multi-service Networking Centers also allow them to work out implementation problems and train personnel in maintenance before tackling the real thing.
MICROSOFT CORP. will take a 3.45 percent stake in one of its top local account resellers, UCHIDA-SPECTRUM INC., through a private placement. The Tokyo software provider, formed in 1995 by SOFTWARE SPECTRUM INC. of Garland, Texas and UCHIDA YOKO CO., LTD., will use the capital infusion to expand its business into the on-line world. Once Microsoft buys into the company, Software Spectrum will own 43.45 percent of Uchida-Spectrum versus a 53.1 percent share for Uchida Yoko.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
Industry sources report that CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. could invest as much as $476.2 million in Japan through 2002 to ensure that it remains a prime supplier of communications infrastructure equipment in this fast-expanding market. Much of the money will go into establishing before yearend Cisco's first in-country R&D facility. The company's subsidiary believes that the Tokyo center is critical to its ability to win contracts from government agencies and NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. and its affiliates. Part of the projected outlay will be used to double the size of Cisco's distribution center in Tokyo in a move designed to ensure timely equipment deliveries to its customers. If the San Jose, California manufacturer's plans pan out, its Japan-derived sales will triple to nearly $2.9 billion in the year through July 2002. Its subsidiary's payroll also could jump to 1,000 people from 350 or so now.
In its first contract win in Japan, OPTICAL NETWORKS, INC. of San Jose, California is supplying its Dynamic Transport System metropolitan optical networking equipment to KVH TELECOM CO., LTD. Although behind schedule, that company still plans to build an intracity communications network in Tokyo to serve major financial institutions and other big corporations (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 31). Optical Networks' DTS supports all network topologies (point-to-point, ring and mesh), while transporting with protection virtually any client-side traffic stream, including SONET, IP, Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel and ATM.
For its part, the subsidiary of Internet backbone router supplier JUNIPER NETWORKS, INC. has won its largest contract since setting up shop last spring (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 31). The local operation of UUNET TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the world's top ISP, has on order some 50 M40 and M20 routers to forward data at high speeds along the network it is building (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 30). Deliveries from Juniper Networks already have started; they should be completed this summer. The faster packet-forwarding performance of the Mountain View, California manufacturer's equipment, which was up against IP backbone routers from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC., sold UUNET. The M40, which starts around $142,900, can move 40 million packets per second with a throughput rate in excess of 40 gigabits per second. The new-to-the-market M20 also has a packet processing speed of 40 Mpps, but its throughput rate is half that of the older model. The main distinction between the two, though, is the compact design of the M20, which typically costs $95,200 and up.
Yet another company sees money to be made from offering complex Web-hosting services to the increasing number of Japanese companies that are deciding that it is more efficient to outsource the management of the servers that support their Internet businesses. GLOBALCENTER JAPAN CORP. is a venture between ASIA GLOBAL CROSSING LTD. (89 percent) and INTERNET RESEARCH INITIATIVE, INC. (11 percent). It is building a 53,800-square-foot data center in Tokyo that will provide not only complex Web hosting services but also e-commerce support and applications hosting solutions in a secure setting. The facility, which should be operational in April, will be connected to the world through the international high-capacity fiber-optic network built by GLOBAL CROSSING LTD., a partner along with MICROSOFT CORP. and SOFTBANK CORP. in Asia Global Crossing (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 10). GlobalCenter Japan will be able to draw on the Internet-related engineering and management expertise of IRI and the know-how of GLOBALCENTER INC., which manages data centers around the world for parent Global Crossing.
One of the companies that this new partnership will be going up against is EXODUS COMMUNICATIONS, INC. The Santa Clara, California company, one of the biggest names in the field of complex Web hosting and other managed Internet services, gained a significant foothold in the Japanese market late last year when it acquired a local ISP and made that company the nucleus of its subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 36). Quickly building on this foundation, Exodus reached a tentative pact with leading systems integrator NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. to work together. The pending partners will be able to offer customers a broad range of Internet consulting services by drawing on NRI's skills alongside Exodus' Web-hosting, network connectivity and related management services. The two companies also will cooperate on marketing, although on its own, NRI will sell Exodus' services. In another sign of the U.S. firm's determination to be a major player in Japan's Web-hosting business, its subsidiary plans to buy a 157,000-square-foot building in Tokyo to house its Internet data center. The facility, the largest of its kind in operation or on the drawing boards, should be occupied by midyear. It will absorb the data center that Exodus acquired as part of its buyout. Simultaneously, the company announced that it would extend its Rapid Deployment Initiative to Japan through tie-ups with the subsidiaries of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP., HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. Under this program, Exodus and its partners, including NRI, will assemble for customers everything they need to quickly build and maintain their Internet operations.
June is the tentative date for the rollout of @HOME CORP.'s residential Internet broadband service, which promises access via cable modems at speeds up to 100 times faster than telephone lines. The completely localized service, including video on demand, will be provided in cooperation with the Redwood City, California company's partners in the Japanese @Home venture: JUPITER TELECOMMUNICATIONS CO., LTD., the country's largest cable TV operator, and SUMITOMO CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, pp. 30-31). Through the 21 cable networks affiliated with J- COM, as it is known, @Home Japan will be able to reach more than 10 percent of all homes, mainly in the Tokyo and Fukuoka metropolitan areas. The involvement of Sumitomo, which also has CATV interests, will extend the reach of the high-speed service.
Long-distance carrier KDD CORP. and CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary will conduct a yearlong test from April of a wide-area Internet telephony system using cable TV lines. As many as 200 local cable operators will be asked to participate in the VIP21 Voice-over- IP project, which could involve up to 20,000 homes that have cable service. The trial, thought to be the largest of its kind in Japan, offers Cisco another opportunity to build its IP equipment business.
In its latest attempt to develop businesses that complement its position as the world's top semiconductor producer, INTEL CORP. plans to build a family of Intel-branded Web appliances for accessing the Internet. The primary customers for the devices will be communications carriers and services providers, which will sell the Web appliances to consumers along with the new services that the cost-effective platform enables them to offer. The first Intel product, scheduled for availability in mid-2000, will integrate Internet access with telephony features, such as call management and unified messaging. Intel already is working with a number of companies to develop and deploy applications and content for its line. In Japan, its partner is NEC CORP. The operator of the BIGLOBE Internet service plans to sell the Intel Web appliance to banks as a financial terminal and to ASPs as a home-services terminal. By offering the combination of the device and new services, NEC hopes to sign up more Internet subscribers. NEC and other firms that decide to handle the Web appliance will get help from Intel's subsidiary on the content side since it plans to form a separate company to develop applications for the device.
Over the last year, INTEL CORP. has made a number of acquisitions to extend its network equipment business. One of those involved the purchase of IPIVOT INC., a manufacturer of so-called Internet commerce equipment, or devices that help customers manage more efficiently and more securely the huge volumes of traffic generated by the explosion in e- com-merce. The first of the Poway, California company's products now is available in Japan. The Intel NetStructure 7110 e-Commerce Accelerator (previously the Commerce Accelerator 1000) improves Internet performance by speeding up the processing of SSL (secure socket layer) transactions associated with e-commerce. Priced at $23,800, the system is targeted at ISPs, financial institutions and other firms that could be swamped by the growth of secure transactions.
Intelligent load-balancing equipment is another focused approach to handling the surging volume of Internet traffic, particularly peak loads. F5 NETWORKS, INC., one of the key makers of these systems, gave NTT-ME CORP. exclusive rights to market its hardware, including the Seattle firm's two newest products. global/SITE Controller, which lists for $100,500, manages and automates the job of synchronizing and distributing file-based content and applications to multiple servers at both local and geographically distributed Internet sites. F5 Networks' other product, the BIG/ip HA+2U, provides high-availability, intelligent load balancing at a local Internet site or data center like other models in the BIG/ip line; however, its distinguishing feature is a streamlined chassis that is half the standard size. This series is priced from $57,100 to $117,100. Among the companies that NTT-ME has lined up to sell these products are a NEC CORP. affiliate and TOKYO ELECTRON LTD., which already sells F5 Networks' BIG/ip load-balancing software (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 27).
ARROWPOINT COMMUNICATIONS, INC. has given NET ONE SYSTEMS CO., LTD. the right to sell its Content Smart Web switches. These products direct Web content requests to the best site and the best server at a given time based on server loads and proximity as well as application and content availability. The Tokyo distributor of network equipment plans to build a business around the Westford, Massachusetts firm's Web- specialized switches that is targeted at the specific needs of ASPs. SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. also markets ArrowPoint's line (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 34).
The Universal Subscriber Gateway family from NOMADIX, INC., a new class of networked devices for delivering broadband services to the consumer market, will be sold exclusively in Japan by RIKEI CORP. The Westlake Village, California manufacturer touts several benefits of its subscriber gateway devices. For starters, they eliminate a primary obstacle to deploying broadband Internet access by automatically configuring subscribers' computers for the local network regardless of setting. For ISPs, that means lower operating costs since there is no need for client-side software, on-site setup, maintenance or technical support. The three existing Nomadix products include a standard USG, one optimized for hotels and another designed for multiple dwelling units.
INTERSPEED, INC. has another solution for providing fast, low-cost Internet access to apartments, schools and other parts of the so-called multitenant-unit market. The North Andover, Massachusetts firm's access routers are based on DSL technology, which uses existing copper telephone lines to deliver high-speed data communications. Interspeed named SOLITON SYSTEMS K.K. to market its family of DSL access routers. The Interspeed 1000, Interspeed 500 and Interspeed DART integrate in a single device all the main components required to offer DSL service, including signal concentration, Layer 2 switching, IP routing and VPN (virtual private network) functions. That, Interspeed says, is a cost-saving first that should help it become the leading supplier of building-centric DSL solutions in Japan.
The first easy-to-use handset for low-cost Internet-based long-distance calling could be in stores in the United States as soon as mid-2000 under an agreement that NET2PHONE, INC. signed with KYUSHU MA-TSUSHITA ELECTRIC CO., LTD. The cordless Panasonic One Touch Internet phone, which also will be able to transmit calls over the publicly switched network, will allow consumers to access Net2Phone's VoIP service without the hassles of first logging on to the Hackensack, New Jersey firm's Web site. Instead, once they have registered with Net2Phone, owners of the Panasonic product simply can press its Internet button and they will gain instant access to the Net2Phone service. Industry analysts expect the One Touch dual-mode phone to be priced slightly about the typical $70 cost of a regular cordless phone.
The high-speed up to 64 kilobits per second wireless Internet access now offered by DDI CORP. and IDO CORP. to their cdmaOne subscribers is based on MOTOROLA INC.'s digital know-how. Not only does this expertise provide the fastest cellular phone data transmission service available in Japan, but the dormant-mode feature of Motorola's packet-data technology ensures the most efficient use of the available radio-frequency spectrum. That benefits consumers since they are billed only for the active portion of their calls. Motorola supplied the infrastructure equipment for Japan's nationwide cdmaOne network.
The world's first wireless personal location service now is in commercial operation in Japan. Offered by NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC., the DokoNavi service is made possible by enhanced GPS (global positioning system) technology from SNAPTRACK, INC. called Wireless Assisted GPS (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 33). To access DokoNavi, which costs $3.80 a month plus the cost of the phone call, NTT DoCoMo subscribers link their cell phones to a $650 personal digital assistant from DENSO CORP. called Naviewn. The San Jose, California developer's technology enables this device to process the position signals it receives from GPS satellites and to show the caller's location within a fairly narrow range on a map on the Naviewn's display. Subscribers to NTT DoCoMo's DokoNavi service not only can get their current location but also detailed instructions and maps to inputted destinations while on the move as well as directions to approximately 210,000 places across Japan, including businesses, stores and restaurants.
Hoping to expand the market for its ERP software, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary is working with FURUNO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. on wireless LAN systems. This is an area in which the Hyogo prefecture manufacturer already is represented through its MORS wireless LAN devices for tracking production processes in factories and stocks at distribution centers. By the spring, Furuno Electric expects to release a product that is compatible with the Oracle Applications ERP package.
By the spring of 2001, the seven CATV operators under the umbrella of TITUS COMMUNICATIONS CORP. will be equipped to receive and retransmit to their customers digital signals from satellite and terrestrial broadcasters. The Tokyo-based company a partnership of MEDIAONE GROUP, INC. (60 percent), ITOCHU CORP. (20 percent) and TOSHIBA CORP. (20 percent) will construct a fiber-optic network connecting a retransmission facility in the capital with its six affiliated cable firms in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. Titus Communications' Sapporo cable operation will have its own setup. Japan's money-losing number-two cable company expects to spend $9.5 million on the project.
SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO INC. (formerly CD Radio Inc.) has contracted with a fourth Japanese company and the eighth manufacturer overall to develop receivers for the digital satellite radio broadcast system that it now expects to launch next year for motorists. Like the other suppliers, KENWOOD CORP. will design receivers for installation as original equipment by automotive builders and for sale in the aftermarket. Sirius plans to offer 50 channels of commercial-free music and as many as 50 channels of news, sports and entertainment programming in the continental United States for a monthly fee of $9.95. ALPINE ELECTRONICS, INC., CLARION CO., LTD. and MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. are the other Japanese firms working on Sirius-capable receivers.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
CALVIN KLEIN, INC. has assumed control of its business in Japan. For the last five years, a company owned by ISETAN CO., LTD., MITSUI & CO., LTD., ONWARD KASHIYAMA CO., LTD. and the New York City design house worked with the nine firms licensed to make clothing and accessories sold under the Calvin Klein Collection, cK and cK Calvin Klein Jeans brand names and the companies that distributed these products. All of these relationships will remain in place. Calvin Klein apparently decided to change its management approach in Japan in order to boost sales. One of the things that its new Tokyo branch office will do is "clarify" existing Calvin Klein brand positioning. It also will be responsible for advertising and public relations in addition to dealing with licensees and distributors.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
As part of its plan to double sales in the Asian Pacific region to 10 percent in 2004, GENERAL MOTORS CORP. will tap the sales networks of affiliates FUJI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. and SUZUKI MOTOR CORP. to market its Chevrolet products as well as its German-made Opel brand (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 32). To do that in Japan, GM's subsidiary first must acquire from longtime partner YANASE & CO., LTD. import rights to these two nameplates. That is not expected to be a problem. Even after the transfer is made in the next few months, Japan's top automotive importer will continue to sell and service Chevrolet and Opel vehicles at its dealerships around the country. Yanase, which is strongest in the luxury end of the market, will retain import rights to GM's Cadillac and Saab brands.
The 2000 models of the subcompact Saturn S-Series sedan and wagon are in the showrooms of SATURN CORP.'s exclusive dealer network. The GENERAL MOTORS CORP. subsidiary hopes that the styling and technical changes made to the two vehicles will help it reverse its disappointing sales record in Japan. The new SL2 Sedan lists for between $15,200 and $18,900, while the SW2 Wagon has a suggested price of $16,100 to $19,000.
The American part of DAIMLERCHRYSLER AG has introduced the 2000 models of the Chrysler Voyager minivan and the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Wrangler sport-utility vehicles. All of the Jeep products are equipped with right-hand drive. The two versions of the Voyager, the Voyager LE and the longer-base Grand Voyager LX, are priced from $33,300 to $38,000. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited lists for $32,300. These trucks are sold through directly run Chrysler stores and DAIMLERCHRYSLER JAPAN HOLDING, LTD. dealers.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.
The enormity of the problem of contaminated soil and groundwater in Japan provides virtually unlimited opportunities for companies with expertise in environmental site investigation and remediation. One such firm is GREGG CONETEC INTERNATIONAL, LLC of Signal Hill, California. It is providing its cone penetration testing technology to RAITO KOGYO CO., LTD., a civil engineering company that is moving into the environmental cleanup business. Gregg's CPT process determines the extent of subsurface contaminants by driving into the earth a probe known as a cone penetrometer that is equipped with continuous data-logging devices and attached to a series of steel rods. In addition to CPT technology and equipment, Gregg will supply Raito Kogyo with truck-mounted hydraulic rigs for obtaining soil, vapor and water samples using conventional hollow-stem augers or the direct-push technique.
Marina operator BELLPORT GROUP, INC. is moving into the Japanese market in partnership with NISHIDA TEKKO CORP., a manufacturer of floodgates that also has a marina division. Their proposed Tokyo-based company, in which the Newport Beach, California firm will have a one-third interest, will target the 100 or so marinas in the country that can accommodate 50 or more boats. Many of these are losing money, but BELLPORT JAPAN CO., LTD. believes that it can turn them around by using BellPort's managerial expertise. The joint venture's first project, though, will be running a marina under construction in Uto, Kumamoto prefecture.
JUPITER COMMUNICATIONS, INC., which quickly has made a name for itself as an authority on Internet commerce, has tied up with the investment arm of HIKARI TSUSHIN, INC. to bring its research and advisory services to Japan. The two will form a Tokyo joint venture in which the New York City-based firm will have slightly more than a 50 percent share. The partners will develop their own analytical resources so that the advice they offer companies on Internet commerce strategies is tailored to local market conditions. They also will have a dedicated sales force. Jupiter's research services are provided primarily through subscriptions. It also stages executive forums, something that the company hopes to do in Japan.
The subsidiary of technology sector tracker GARTNER GROUP, INC. is diversifying. It will offer a service that helps businesses analyze the benefits and the costs of outsourcing various operations. At the same time, the Stamford, Connecticut company hopes to line up as clients companies that provide outsourced services. It will provide them with insight on market trends and help on marketing strategies.
An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.