Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 340, January 1998

Issue Index

 American Companies in Japan


As the Internet's popularity in Japan continues to grow, more firms hope to use the new medium to build personal relationships with customers, a key part of doing business there. FIREFLY NETWORK INC.'s personalized relationship management software — Firefly Passport Office and Firefly Catalog Navigator with Advanced Collaborative Filtering — is aimed directly at this segment. Its software selects Web content based on user-provided customer profiles. Since they joined forces last spring (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 332, May 1997, p. 19), distributor NICHIMEN DATA SYSTEMS CORP. has been working with the Cambridge, Massachusetts firm not only to sell the software but to localize it as well. Now ready, the Japanese- language versions of Passport Office and Catalog Navigator are the core of Nichimen Data's new book and movie recommendation Website (www.firefly.co.jp). .....Also thanks to NICHIMEN DATA SYSTEMS CORP.'s efforts, FIREFLY NETWORK INC.'s software has been selected by local advertising agency J.S. CORP. to power its movie recommendation service — MyBest (www.mybest.js-corp.co.jp). The ad agency hopes its site will become "Japan's premier on-line destination for information and entertainment services."

A turnkey electronic commerce server package, Quick Merchant Server, is on the market from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. Included in the suite are a PC-based client-server, an enterprise-level Website server and HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s vPOS security software. The suite is being marketed by HP Japan's existing network of value-added resellers and integrators, including JAPAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD., NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. and CSK CORP. HP Japan expects to sell more than 1,000 copies of the package in the first year.

DIGICASH INC. of Palo Alto, California has sold a marketing license for its electronic money system to NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. The eCash system is Internet-based, making it suitable for use by virtual malls and cybershoppers. NRI will start marketing the system this spring, targeting mainly financial institutions. It will be going up against a smart-card electronic money system developed by CYBERCASH, INC. and marketed by the Reston, Virginia firm's joint venture with SOFTBANK CORP. and other local firms (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 336, September 1997, p. 18).

Observers agree that electronic transaction and payment verification services will be a key ingredient in the success of electronic commerce in Japan. New software from GLOBESET, INC. of Austin, Texas is aimed at meeting this need. The GlobeSet Payment System is a four-module, Secure Electronic Transaction-based system that consists of GlobeSet Wallet, GlobeSet POS, GlobeSet Gateway and GlobeSet CA digital identification certification. The subsidiary of GlobeSet's main shareholder, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. via its ownership of TANDEM COMPUTERS, INC., already has struck a deal with OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. to install the GlobeSet Payment System in Oki's upcoming line of Internet commerce servers.

Delivering multimedia in real time over the Internet is the purpose of RealSystem 5.0 from REALNETWORKS, INC. (formerly Progressive Networks, Inc.). The Seattle firm's subsidiary has localized the client-server streaming media system. RealNetworks expects its cross-platform tools for delivering, viewing and publishing high-quality multimedia to appeal to a wide range of clients. IBM JAPAN LTD. has released localized versions of its parent's VisualAge for Java, an enterprise-enabled, team-based Java development environment. Besides being the first commercial offering of JavaSoft's JavaBeans Development Kit 1.1, the suite includes an editor, debugger, browsers and extensive Java class libraries. Using INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s own BeanMachine, developers quickly can combine premade objects and components into applications. IBM Japan has priced a single-user edition at $115 and an enterprise license at $2,300.

Separately, IBM JAPAN LTD. is selling DB.Home-page Builder, which allows existing SQL data bases to be published as Web resources. The $3,800-plus package should help Japanese firms bring their legacy data bases into the Internet age. .....A new package from ORACLE CORP.'s local unit targets this segment as well. Oracle JDBC Driver provides complete access via the Internet to the unique features of Oracle's data bases that are not supported by the standard version of Java Database Classes specified by JavaSoft.

New software from STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS RESEARCH CORP.'s subsidiary targets a niche in the Web-enabled data base market: product data management. The Milford, Ohio firm's Metaphase Enterprise 3.0 package handles all forms of data about products and components via the Web, allowing firms to tie together geographically separated design and manufacturing centers for workflow and document management tasks. The English-language version of Metaphase Enterprise will debut in the first quarter, with a Japanese version set for rollout in the second half of 1998.

To ensure compatibility between MICROSOFT CORP.'s BackOffice 4.0 suite, third- party software and its Express5800 family of enterprise servers, NEC CORP. has opened a Designed for Microsoft BackOffice Testing Center. Growing out of their strategic alliance (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 336, September 1997, pp. 2- 3), NEC hopes that the new testing center not only will help developers test existing programs with BackOffice but also will encourage them to bring new BackOffice- friendly applications to market.

The Japanese market for network services is heating up. For instance, IBM JAPAN LTD. worked hand-in-glove with TOYAMA CHEMICAL CO., LTD. to produce a drug- product information and supply system using Lotus Notes and an intranet. The two are pitching the system to both pharmaceutical makers and dispensers. .....In a related development, IBM JAPAN LTD. has decided to sell part of its electronic business suite of software and services separately. The Network Service for e-business provides electronic mail, collaborative services and secure remote access based on a Lotus Notes core. .....MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary has agreed to work with SUMISHO INFORMATION SYSTEMS CORP. to offer network construction and maintenance services for small and midsized companies based on the BackOffice 4.0 suite. The two firms also will cooperate on other software services for small firms, such as solving Year 2000 issues.

Japanese information technology managers also are enjoying an explosion in their networking software options. COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC. and HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. announced that HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. would ship the L models of the NetServer series with a kanji-capable, double-byte version of CA's Unicenter TNG Framework network monitoring and management program. HP Japan is the first systems vendor to market servers bundled with the Japanese edition of Unicenter TNG Framework. There is no additional charge for the software. NetServer L models also come with HP's Top Tools management software, which is fully integrated with Unicenter TNG. .....BMC SOFTWARE, INC. of Sugarland, Texas fired back. Its subsidiary signed up a seventh company — CSK CORP. — to distribute the Patrol integrated network management package (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 331, April 1997, p. 17).

An agreement between NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. and HITACHI, LTD. will make it easier for network managers to handle personnel moves, arrivals and departures. The two have agreed to promote the Lightweight Directory Access Protocol standard for managing the daunting task of tracking where every employee can be reached via the network at any moment. LDAP already has been widely adopted in the United States. It also should gain widespread acceptance in Japan within a short time.

To keep pace with the rapidly evolving Japanese network market, WRQ INC. released a new version of its Reflex connectivity middleware for Unix and DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. systems. It will be distributed by CYBERNET SYSTEMS CO., LTD., which handle the Seattle company's other products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 334, July 1997, p. 20). Reflex for Unix and Digital is priced around $390. Cybernet Systems expects to sell 10,000 copies a year.

Defending proliferating networks and intranets against unwanted intrusions is a booming business. VERISIGN, INC.'s subsidiary recently released its digital certificate solution for business — VeriSign OnSite. The Mountain View, California company claims that OnSite is easy to install and use as well as flexible and powerful. .....To further boost its strong local market position, VERISIGN, INC. lined up 13 additional Japanese firms to invest in its subsidiary, including SHARP CORP., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP. The number of Japanese backers now stands at 28. VeriSign, however, still retains a controlling stake in its affiliate.

Burnsville, Minnesota-based DATAKEY, INC. has given local marketing rights for its SignaSURE smart-card network security system to INTRANET SYSTEMS, INC. The token-based system authenticates all requests and provides secure transmission and storage of data across an intranet or the Internet.

An alternative based on mutual authentication with encrypted keys is available from CYLINK CORP. and marketing partner MITSUI & CO., LTD. The Sunnyvale, California firm's PrivateWire gateway and client software authenticate transactions at both ends. It is priced at $23,100 for a server and several dozen clients.

A systems approach to network security is the tack being taken by WHEELGROUP CORP. and exclusive distributor HUCOM INC. The San Antonio, Texas firm's NetRanger monitors network activity for attempted hacking or other security violations from external or internal sources. NetSonar analyzes existing networks, looking for security weak points and suggesting remedies. Hucom also has the right to use WheelGroup's products to establish network security monitoring services for local companies. The two expect to take in $23.1 million in software sales and consulting fees during the first year of their tie-up.

MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary is taking a more established route to improving network security by upgrading its firewall server. Proxy Server 2.0 handles LAN/Internet security functions as before, but now it includes content caching to improve data transfer response times by up to 50 percent. The distributed Web caching gives Proxy Server improved scalability, fault-tolerance and load-balancing.

While much of the action seems to revolve around network server software, developers are not ignoring the client side of the equation. Two recently released products from IBM JAPAN LTD. focus on the new Network Computer paradigm. WorkSpace On-Demand Manager/Client, which is priced at $277 for the client version and at $800 for the server copy, and the $75 Desktop On-Call are intended to ease the burden on network administrators. They offer the advantages of NC systems, such as lower total cost of ownership, easier maintenance and simpler configuring of clients.

Meanwhile, IBM JAPAN LTD. has developed and put on the market e-mail software for remote client computers that is more flexible and reliable than competing products. Using a stripped-down version of Lotus Notes Mail, the $53,800 system should appeal to any firm with a large number of agents in the field. That explains IBM Japan's goal of selling 10,000 units a month.

Keeping pace, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. unveiled OpenView Desktop Administrator. Like Desktop On-Call, this software allows a central administrator to control directly any client PC on the network. That makes it easier to install software and conduct maintenance. HP Japan claims that the program will reduce the total cost of ownership of standard PC networks, bringing it closer to that of NC systems. MITSUI & CO., LTD. is handling sales of OpenView Desktop Administrator, which costs from $75 per node. ....In a related move, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is providing a free upgrade of its network printer management utility. HP Web JetAdmin 3.0 allows LAN administrators to install and configure any printer on a network from a single location.

MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary has rolled out a localized version of SQL Enterprise Server 6.5. The data base management system ties in closely with Microsoft's other corporate offerings. A 25-user license for the Japanese edition costs $10,700. .....At the same time, NEC CORP. announced that it would support the new version of MICROSOFT CORP.'s SQL Enterprise Server, not only in Japan but elsewhere in Asia as well as in the United States and Europe. This move is an outgrowth of NEC's strategic alliance with Microsoft (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 336, September 1997, pp. 2-3).

The local unit of DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. and INTERSYSTEMS CORP. of Cambridge, Massachusetts have tied up to offer a specialized relational data base management system, Caché. InterSystems will localize the Windows NT and Unix application, which is tailored for firms handling large volumes of transactions that want to mine this information using the software's "transactional multidimensional data model, object-oriented functionality and post-relational data base functions." DEC will package Caché with its Windows NT servers.

In an effort to ease the integration of data base and information applications from different vendors, ORACLE CORP. is offering through its subsidiary some of its proprietary know-how in the form of Oracle Replication Server Manager and other tools. The $23,100 software ensures that a master catalog of all data types, posting functions, distribution lists and other common meta-data is maintained faithfully and replicated accurately throughout a company's distributed processing environment.

Lifting the mountain of paperwork from employees' shoulders is the aim of a software and consulting venture formed by Denver-based FASTLINK INTERNATIONAL LLC and office furniture distributor ITOKI CO., LTD. of Tokyo. The equally owned company will design electronic document management systems to digitize, store and retrieve information from workers' desktops. Its first move, though, was to link up with a partner of Fastlink, an affiliate of cable television operator TELE-COMMUNICATIONS, INC. In February, the joint venture planned to start marketing a Japanese version of TCI INTESSERA TECHNOLOGIES GROUP's VueFinder document management system.

Japanese seeking to make their data bases more accessible have several new options. One is ORACLE CORP.'s Oracle Objects for OLE 2.2, which opens up many facets of the powerful and popular Oracle7 relational data base without requiring special interfaces or external drivers. The data base middleware gives applications written in C++, Visual Basic and any OLE 2-compliant program access to Oracle7's many functions with no appreciable performance loss. Oracle's subsidiary has priced Oracle Objects for OLE 2.2 at $300.

Lotus NotesPump 2.5, available through the local operation of LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP., does much the same for linking Notes Domino servers with relational data base systems. The $7,500 package allows Domino users to manage, warehouse and mine their legacy and new data base resources.

Channelink and UltraNet from COMPUTER NETWORK TECHNOLOGY can tie together external storage, centralized storage and remote clustering storage topologies into a high-performance storage area network. Furthermore, the Minneapolis firm's Apertus and Brixton packages make these SAN's Web- and intranet-friendly. With this product lineup, CNT opened a sales office in Tokyo to pursue OEM relationships and other market opportunities.

ORACLE CORP.'s local unit and NIPPON STEEL CORP. cemented ties that date back to 1991 when Japan's largest steelmaker invested $23.1 million in the subsidiary. Oracle and NSC started off by jointly marketing the American company's products. Later, Nippon Steel's electronics unit became an Oracle distributor. That was followed by technical cooperation. Now that the big steelmaker is a minority owner, the alliance will be extended to include customer support and other areas.

HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. won the competition to become SUMITOMO LIFE INSURANCE CO.'s strategic e-business solution provider. HP will design and develop a highly flexible e-business process system for the insurer centered around its new ChangeEngine software technology. This help should cut costs, improve customer service and reduce errors and paperwork. The U.S. company also will provide consulting and integration services. Sumitomo Life wants the new system to be in place by the year 2002, when the domestic insur-ance market is to be fully deregulated.

Mining a similar market vein, the local arm of ORACLE CORP. is working to develop and localize enterprise resource planning solutions based on Oracle Application. It is integrating this environment with existing accounting software packages, such as Scope 2 from INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD. and TSUBASA SYSTEM CO., LTD.'s Super Visual, to prepare for major changes in Japanese accounting practices and to give executives the ability to analyze their financial data.

In-depth analysis of financial information will become a key business advantage as Japan moves to deregulate its financial markets. IBRAIN SOFTWARE INC. wants to cash in on this trend by marketing its on-line analytical processing know-how through OMRON CORP. The Palo Alto, California firm expects great demand for its first localized product, IBrain Mutual Fund Counselor, but it thinks that the underlying IBrain Open Decision Framework technology will find many other applications in Japan.

J.P. MORGAN & CO. and marketing partner CSK CORP. also are hopping on this bandwagon with the investment bank's Credit Manager package. CSK will handle systems integration for the credit-risk analysis program. Licenses start at $34,600. Although only an English-language version of Credit Manager is available, the Japanese company still hopes to sell 20 systems in the first year. The two will study whether a Japanese-language version should be offered.

This potentially lucrative market also has attracted MATHSOFT, INC. The Cambridge, Massachusetts firm is offering its S-PLUS 4.0 statistical data mining package through distributor SMI SOFT CO., LTD. of Tokyo. Already in use at many Fortune 1,000 firms, S-PLUS accepts data from many spreadsheet and data base formats to allow users to perform sophisticated statistical and visual analysis at their desktops. SMI Soft aims to sell 1,000 copies of the $1,800-plus package.

PERIPHONICS CORP. has picked an ITOCHU CORP. affiliate, CRC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INC., to market its line of computer-telephony integration software. The Bohemia, New York company's products bring the latest technology to call centers and telephone transaction processing, including interactive voice response, speech input, electronic messaging and facsimile as well as Web browsers.

Software from WEBLINE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. moves all call center functions to the Web with its Java-based Web servers, agent Web terminals and caller Web terminals. An interesting feature of WebLine Platinum and Gold packages is that callers and agents can view the same Web page simultaneously, with either side being able to push data to the other or control browser navigation. Distributor CHIYODA JOHO KIKI CO., LTD. is targeting mail-order and catalog firms for WebLine Gold, which costs $10,400, and the $35,600 WebLine Platinum. In the first year, CJK expects to sell 10 copies of the two versions for revenues of about $384,600.

While correctly and efficiently handling call center operations is important, QUINTUS CORP.'s CustomerQ and ImpaQ put the emphasis on ensuring top-notch quality of customer support responses. The Fremont, California firm's complementary packages will be the centerpiece offerings from IBM JAPAN LTD.'s Customer Relationship Solutions Group as it promotes the company's own call center services.

Denver, Colorado-based QUARK INC. has brought the latest version of its industry- standard QuarkXPress desktop publishing program to Japan through recently appointed distributor KOYOSHA CO., LTD. The Tokyo company will handle the release of the Japanese-language version in the first quarter of this year.

PICTUREWORKS TECHNOLOGY, INC. has launched its second product for the Japanese market through an affiliate of FUJITSU, LTD. Spin PhotoObject turns ordinary photographs of an object taken from several views into a three-dimensional image that can be manipulated and animated. The Danville, California firm's software gained fame when it was used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to create 3D sequences of the Mars Rover's travels. The $69 Spin PhotoObject joins Spin Panorama, which went on sale last summer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 335, August 1997, p. 21).

A step up the sophistication scale is real-time, 3D situation simulator software from MULTIGEN, INC.'s new subsidiary. MultiGen II PRO v1.5 leverages the San Jose, California firm's strong experience with air-to-air combat simulations into the ground- warfare environment. MultiGen Creator brings simulation capabilities formerly available on workstation-class machines to the Windows NT world. The company's sales and marketing subsidiary is targeting the military, architectural, commercial and entertainment applications of its software. The new unit also is offering technical support.

Add-ons from EVANS & SUTHERLAND COMPUTER CORP. enhance the capabilities of its popular MindSet virtual studio set system, adding off-line storyboard editing and rehearsal functions. Directors and producers of television and stage shows can create virtual sets, experimenting with different prop arrangements, lighting and character movements, by using the Salt Lake City, Utah firm's MindSet and FuseBox. Distributor RIKEI CORP. has put a $183,800 price tag on the base system.

A.D.A.M. SOFTWARE, INC. and longtime marketing partner, the Matsushita InterTechno division of MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., have released a Japanese-language version of the Atlanta firm's A.D.A.M. Interactive Anatomy program. While this should spur sales of the multimedia anatomy reference tool in Japan, its real import is that the AIA software can be adapted easily to any Asian language that can be represented in a two-byte format, such as Chinese and Korean. A.D.A.M. shipped an initial order of 350 copies of AIA to Matsushita InterTechno.

Improvements in algorithms and libraries have boosted the operating speed of NEOCORTECH LLC's Typhoon MT 6.0 Japanese-to-English translation engine. Running under Windows operating systems, the new version of Typhoon handles up to 300,000 words per hour. It also reads, writes and sends e-mail in Japanese. In addition, the software can be used as a learning tool by foreigners studying Japanese characters and its phonetic alphabets. San Diego, California-based NeocorTech priced Typhoon at $890.

A new PC utility from IBM JAPAN LTD. may help computer-phobic Japanese. For $139, ViaVoice Gold/Japanese version lets users dictate text and commands to their PCs running either Windows 95 or NT. ViaVoice integrates smoothly with MICROSOFT CORP.'s Word and other word-processing programs.

Using the large installed Cadceus base as a springboard (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 334, July 1997, p. 22), UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary is going after a new niche in the engineering software market. Its Cadceus Mold Design add-on, priced at $7,700, allows the design software to image and direct the creation of 3D molds.

Targeting an even more specialized market segment is software from Pasadena, California-based OPTICAL RESEARCH ASSOCIATES. ORA's LightTools Illumination Module interactively models complex optical systems in 3D space. The package includes a large library of optical and mechanical components, including lenses, mirrors, prisms, diffusers and binary and diffractive optical elements. It accurately models all aspects of light's behavior. A license costs $1,500 a month plus maintenance. CRC RESEARCH INSTITUTE, INC. and CYBERNET SYSTEMS CO., LTD. are distributing the LightTools Illumination Module.

Mirroring its parent's lead, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has begun bundling 3D product visualization software from ENGINEERING ANIMATION, INC. with its Unix workstations. The Ames, Iowa firm's VisFly takes product data specifications and creates a three-dimensional image of the product. Thus, every department can get a clearer idea of what engineers have created or are considering.

Trying to keep ahead of the ever-growing needs of semiconductor makers, MENTOR GRAPHICS CORP.'s local arm has released a version of its static timing analysis tool that can accommodate deep-submicron ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) designs. SST Velocity, which lists for $53,500, incorporates new algorithms and incremental analysis to meet the varied and complex demands of deep-submicron designs but keeps the simple user interface common to the Wilsonville, Oregon firm's products. Mentor's subsidiary hopes to sell 30 copies of SST Velocity in the first year.

As deregulation of Japan's telecommunications market builds momentum, leading telecom equipment maker NEC CORP. and TCSI CORP. have tightened their long- standing ties by announcing a new technology partnership and by opening a joint development facility. The Fremont, California company's SolutionCore telecommunications network management package complements NEC's hardware. Together, the two will tailor the software/hardware platform to local customers' needs. The joint development facility will be staffed by TCSI SolutionCore experts. They will provide support, training and software engineering services to NEC engineers.

Creating and running a network is only one part of a telecommunications carrier's responsibilities. Software from OBJECTIVE SYSTEMS INTEGRATORS, INC. of Folsom, California is aimed at providing a total operations support system. With SUMISHO NETSOLUTIONS CO., LTD., a joint venture between SUMITOMO CORP. and NTT SOFT CORP., serving as its new distributor, OSI's NetExpert should appeal to a growing number of communications firms because its TMN-based framework provides a distributable base for easily writing custom applications using expert rules. Sumisho NetSolutions also will work with NTT Soft to further implement NetExpert throughout the NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. system. Sumitomo had sold NetExpert for three years before the switch in distributors.

GEOWORKS CORP. of Alameda, California continues to build a local customer base for its operating system for wireless devices. It recently licensed its latest product, GEOS-SC, to MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. for use in a planned line of consumer devices combining voice and data transmission functions. Geoworks has been doing a booming business thanks to the deregulation of Japan's personal communications market (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 22).

An exchange rate of ¥130=$1.00 was used in this report.

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