The world's second-biggest manufacturer of polyester film is now wholly owned by MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. Japan's top chemical company bought out partner HOECHST AG's equity interest in their seven-year-old joint production, research and development and marketing polyester film venture for an undisclosed price (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, pp. 2-3). The acquisition includes the former HOECHST DIAFOIL CO. of Greer, South Carolina, now named MITSUBISHI POLYESTER FILM, LLC, in which Hoechst had a two-thirds stake, as well as a Wiesbaden, Germany firm that also was majority-owned by the German parent. The renamed MITSUBISHI POLYESTER FILM CORP., or what was DIAFOIL HOECHST CO., LTD., also is completely owned by MCC, which initially had put up two-thirds of this company's capital. These three companies, plus an operation in Indonesia, have annual sales of more than $600 million. They have a combined annual capacity of 170,000 tons and employ 2,000 people. Hoechst is divesting businesses that do not advance its goal of becoming a life sciences company.
Japan's top maker of diagnostic drugs has gained a U.S. supply base. For about $37.5 million, FUJIREBIO INC. acquired the in vitro diagnostic oncology business of CENTACOR, INC. Based in Malvern, Pennsylvania, this operation's products include immunoassays using monoclonal antibody technology that aid in the detection and the monitoring of solid tumor cancers. Its 1997 revenues were $35.4 million. Centacor, a biopharmaceutical firm, approached Fujirebio about buying its diagnostics division after deciding to shed this business so that it could concentrate on its core therapeutic products; these also are developed through monoclonal antibody technology. Fujirebio will continue to operate the diagnostics business in Malvern, using it to strengthen sales of diagnostics in the United States and Europe.
MEDICAL & BIOLOGICAL LABORATORIES CO., LTD., a producer of diagnostic reagents best known for its work in the area of autoimmune diseases, has established a second U.S. sales subsidiary. FU'-GENE INC., located in Park Ridge, Illinois, is marketing some 30 reagent kits, including the ELISA kit for screening antinuclear antibodies relevant to connective tissue diseases. Production of these diagnostic reagents has been outsourced to an unnamed American company. MBL is projecting Fu'Gene's sales at $1 million in FY 1999. The Nagoya-based company's other U.S. subsidiary is MBL INTERNATIONAL CORP. of Watertown, Massachusetts. Opened in 1993, it distributes reagents for basic research, MBL's second core business.
In the latest tie-up designed to advance its diversification into drugs based on recombinant technology, KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. has entered into a two-year collaboration with HYSEQ, INC. The Sunnyvale, California company will use its proprietary Gene Discovery platform to target novel genes involved in cell growth regulation from specific cell lines provided by Kirin Brewery's pharmaceutical division. The partners will codevelop any candidates identified as commercially relevant. The Japanese firm will pay an up-front fee of $3 million and make milestone payments. Kirin Brewery and Hyseq will have exclusive rights in their regional territories to products that result from the collaboration and will share marketing responsibilities elsewhere.
TOYAMA CHEMICAL CO. has given worldwide development and marketing rights to a broad-spectrum des-fluoroquinolone for the treatment of various antibacterial infections to BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO. The next-generation agent, T-3811/BMS- 284756, is said to show promise against respiratory and urinary tract infections as well as against skin and soft-tissue infections while offering advantages over other quinolones in terms of safety and efficacy. BMS will make up-front and milestone payments to Toyama Chemical, plus pay royalties on sales after marketing starts. The big drug company said that T-3811 provides a strong complement to its Tequin (gatifloxacin). That broad-spectrum quinolone, which is in Phase III clinical trials, was discovered by KYORIN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. and licensed to BMS for development in late 1996.
A treatment for urinary stress incontinence discovered by NIPPON SHINYAKU CO., LTD. will be developed and marketed by ABBOTT LABORATORIES on an exclusive basis in North America and certain other countries. The Kyoto company's NS-49, an alpha 1 agonist, currently is in Phase II clinical trials. In exchange for these rights, Abbott, which already has a major presence in the urology treatment market, will make milestone and royalty payments to Nippon Shinyaku. The U.S. health-care company sees an enormous and expanding market for NS-49 as the American population ages.
Yet another Japanese company has opted to license development and marketing of a drug emerging from its labs to a major American pharmaceutical house in order to generate a quicker payback. In this instance, it is MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP., which awarded JOHNSON & JOHNSON exclusive rights outside Japan to a second- generation insulin-sensitizing agent and its backup compounds for the treatment of diabetes and related diseases. MCC-555 is described as minimizing diabetes- treatment effects on the pancreas since it reduces both blood glucose and insulin doses. J&J's sales of MCC-555 could produce royalty payments to MCC estimated anywhere from $82.6 million a year to four times that amount.
Wayne, Pennsylvania-based ASTRA PHARMACEUTICALS, L.P. has launched U.S. sales of Atacand (candesartan cilexetil), an antihypertensive agent discovered by TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. for once-daily treatment of hypertension. Candesartan cilexetil, which is in a class of drugs known as angiotensin II receptor antagonists, was jointly developed by Takeda Chemical and Astra. Japan's top pharmaceutical company has exclusive rights to the antihypertensive agent at home and in other Asian markets. In major European markets, Takeda Chemical and Astra are comarketing or copromoting the product. Astra has exclusive American rights to Atacand.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a move that highlighted its primary business, SOFTBANK CORP. Japan's largest distributor of software but a company that has made a name for itself recently by buying into Internet ventures and other technology-related companies in the United States entered into a strategic alliance with INGRAM MICRO INC., the world's leading wholesale distributor of technology products and services, to distribute computer-related products on a global scale. The Santa Ana, California partner describes the goal of the tie-up as providing global account services to value-added resellers, including establishing joint purchasing programs, while leveraging each other's business knowledge and expertise in the markets each serves. Ingram Micro will be Softbank's exclusive partner in markets outside Japan that it serves. Conversely, Softbank will fulfill Ingram Micro's international sales in Japan. To cement their new relationship, each company invested $50 million in the other, an amount equivalent to about 1 percent of Ingram Micro's and Softbank's respective stock values.
Attaining its goal of returning to profitability in the second half of 1999 has forced personal computer manufacturer PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. to take "aggressive" cost-cutting actions. Those are headed by trimming its U.S. payroll of some 5,000 people by as many as 1,000 employees by yearend. The downsizing will occur across the Sacramento, California company's operations. The announcement of the layoffs followed several restructuring initiatives launched earlier this year and NEC CORP.'s decision to pump even more capital into the world's number-five maker of PCs (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 2).
Yet another part of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s strategy for regaining profitability is to give the corporate world high-performance servers at value prices. In the latest such releases, the company's NEC Computer Systems Division introduced the NEC Express5800 HX4500 and the NEC Express5800 MC2400 servers. The HX4500 line of enterprise-class servers features up to four 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors with 512 kilobytes or 1 megabyte of Level 2 cache to meet the requirements of data base, transaction processing and Internet/intranet applications. Pricing starts at $13,900 for a machine with a single processor with 512 KB of cache. The MC2400 is a dual processor-capable departmental server that offers a choice of 333-MHz, 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II processors, up to 1 gigabyte of internal memory, hot-swappable hard drives and an optional redundant hot-swap power supply and redundant system cooling. A version of the high-reliability server with a 333-MHz processor and 32 MB of random access memory costs $3,300.
Answering this challenge and then some, HITACHI PC CORP. introduced an eight-way Pentium II Xeon-based model in its VisionBase line of enterprise servers. One of the industry's first such products, the VisionBase 8880 integrates the same mainframe- derived features as other members of this series, including easy manageability, both locally and remotely, high-performance input/output for fast throughput, and redundant cooling, power supply and RAID (redundant array of independent disks) disk storage for improved reliability. Milpitas, California-based Hitachi PC expects to begin shipping the VisionBase 8880 in December.
Cost-conscious buyers are the target customers for the latest additions to PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s Packard Bell and NEC Ready desktop PC model lineups. Both models incorporate ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC.'s less expensive AMD-K6-2 processor with 3DNow! technology. That choice helps to keep the price of the minitower Packard Bell 955 at $900 for a system with a 333-MHz processor, 64 MB of internal memory, an 8.4-GB hard drive, 512 KB of L2 cache and other features for multimedia applications and Internet access. The companion NEC Ready 9888, designed for the SOHO (small office/home office) market, also comes with a 333-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor with 3DNow! technology and the other features of the Packard Bell 955. However, a price just over $1,000 gets the buyer a SuperDisk drive that reads and writes both 120-MB SuperDisks and standard 3.5-inch floppy disks.
At the same time, PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. introduced the NEC Ready 340T notebook, which uses a 300-MHz AMD-K6 MMX Enhanced mobile processor. The estimated street price of $2,200 also buys a 13.3-inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) active- matrix color display, 64 MB of SyncDRAM (synchronous dynamic random access memory) memory, a 4-GB hard disk drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive and a 56-kilobit-per- second-capable V.90-compliant modem.
With strong initial sales of its thin, lightweight notebook computer at home, SHARP CORP. is optimistic about market prospects in the United States for the Mebius Note PJ PC-PJ1. Arriving on store shelves in mid-October, the $2,500 or so product is designed to go head-to-head with SONY CORP.'s VAIO line. Sharp already has shipped 3,000 Mebiuses and plans to export another 7,000 units to this country by next March, including a new model set for release in January.
A new generation of more powerful and feature-laden handheld PCs running the Windows CE 2.0 operating system is arriving on the market. For instance, CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD.'s Dover, New Jersey subsidiary introduced the CASSIOPEIA E-11, which provides 8 MB of memory and comes with an easy-to-read 240 X 320-dot LCD (liquid crystal display) screen in a pocket-size configuration. The engine is NEC CORP.'s new VR4111 MIPS RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processor, which was developed specifically for portable computers. The CASSIOPEIA E-11 retails for a suggested price of $400.
In the first quarter of 1999, the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. will ship a next-generation NEC MobilePro handheld PC. The product will incorporate the just-announced VR4121 64-bit MIPS RISC processor. It also will support the simultaneously released Windows CE operating system, Handheld PC Professional Edition. Among other advances, the third generation of MICROSOFT CORP.'s H/PC software will deliver improved performance, support for USB (universal serial bus) peripherals and higher screen resolutions, new versions of Pocket Office and enhanced file-conversion capabilities.
Seventeen months after forming MKE QUANTUM COMPONENTS CORP. to design, develop and make magneto-resistive recording heads for disk drives, MATSUSHITA- KOTOBUKI ELECTRONICS INDUSTRIES, LTD. and QUANTUM CORP. have decided to disband the venture. The Japanese partner, a 51-percent owner, said that it and disk drive manufacturer Quantum were having trouble keeping pace with the technical advances in MR heads that competitors were making. MKE Quantum Components, which employs some 4,500 workers, has plants in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and Louisville, Colorado. They will be sold. Matsushita-Kotobuki Electronics will take over an Indonesian factory.
Just five months after introducing the Hitachi Freedom 7700E, which provides multiplatform support across S/390, Unix and Windows NT operating environments, HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. upgraded the storage subsystem. The Santa Clara, California company, owned by HITACHI, LTD. and ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP., improved the subsystem's software to boost performance in open-systems environments by up to 30 percent. HDS also increased the 7700E's maximum cache size to 16 GB from 10 GB, thereby yielding additional performance gains by allowing the subsystem's FlashAccess feature to maintain even more data in the cache memory.
Strong demand in the United States for media for digital linear tape drives used to store data from mainframes and enterprise servers has persuaded FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. to earmark between $16.5 million and $24.8 million to add a DLT coating line at its multiproduct Greenwood, South Carolina complex. Fujifilm's DLTtape IV can hold 70 GB of data, assuming 2:1 data compression. The product also is supplied to QUANTUM CORP. for sale under the Milpitas, California company's name. Installation of the DLT coating line should be completed next April, with production scheduled to start in the summer.
November was the launch date for the HiFD, a 3.5-inch floppy disk codeveloped by FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. and SONY CORP. that has a storage capacity of 200 MB. That is the equivalent of nearly 140 of today's 1.44-MB floppy disks. It also is twice the capacity of IOMEGA CORP.'s Zip disk and two-thirds more than IMATION CORP.'s 120-MB SuperDisk can hold. In addition, the HiFD can transfer up to 3.6 MB of data per second. The combination of storage capacity and transfer rate makes the HiFD ideal for storing large text files, CD-quality music and digital video on a single floppy disk. Both the Fujifilm HiFD 200MB and the Sony HiFD media, which carry a suggested retail price of $14 and $15, respectively, are designed for Sony's new external HiFD drive. It has an estimated street price of $200.
CANON INC. is expanding its original equipment manufacturer arrangement with HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. covering engines for laser printers from engines for monochrome printers to ones for color laser printers. HP, the dominant player in the world color laser printer market, now sells a product that can turn out two to three pages per minute in color. KONICA CORP. supplies the engine for this laser printer. The Canon-built engine is twice as fast, which should enable HP to strengthen its position in the color laser printer market. Canon expects to ship several hundred thousand engines a year to the American company for color laser printers in addition to continuing to supply most of the engines for HP's monochrome laser printers.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. is in the process of restructuring its U.S. operations to better focus them on businesses that are key to the electronics multinational, including digital television, computer hardware and software, and telecommunications. It is folding its 25-year-old American holding company, MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC AMERICA, INC., and opening in its place The Americas Corporate Office as part of Cypress, California-headquartered MITSUBISHI ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC., the largest MELCO subsidiary. The new office is responsible for representing the company's businesses in North and South America. In addition, Mitsubishi Electric will close the Audio/Visual division of MITSUBISHI CONSUMER ELECTRONICS AMERICA, INC. and form a company, also located in Irvine, California, to handle production and sales of projection TVs and display monitor manufacturing in Mexico. MELCO also will streamline its cellular telephone operations by closing ASTRONET CORP. of Lake Mary, Florida and MCEA's Cellular Mobile Telephone division and establishing comparable functions within MITSUBISHI WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS, INC. of Duluth, Georgia (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 8). Among other previously reported changes, MELCO, which is ending U.S.-based DRAM wafer fabrication, assembly and test, has formed a semiconductor design group in Durham, North Carolina (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 7).
To ensure that it remains at the forefront of the digital electronics revolution, MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., via its Princeton, New Jersey- based PANASONIC TECHNOLOGIES, INC. subsidiary, has opened the Panasonic Digital Concepts Center. The mandate of the Cupertino, California organization is to identify promising Silicon Valley start-ups in such areas as home networking, Internet appliances, next-generation computing and electronic commerce and then invest in them. For that purpose, MEI has committed an initial $50 million. PDCC also has the flexibility to provide incubation services for start-ups and to hire engineers to work on R&D projects on a contract basis.
A third Japanese company has obtained a nonexclusive license to utilize OVONIC BATTERY CO.'s proprietary nickel metal hydride battery technology and taken a minority position in the Troy, Michigan subsidiary of ENERGY CONVERSION DEVICES, INC. Along with its affiliates, SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., the world's largest manufacturer of NiMH batteries for consumer products, has the right to make NiMH batteries for electric scooters and bicycles in Japan and the People's Republic of China for worldwide sale as well as to manufacture NiMH batteries for four-wheel and bigger vehicles assembled in Japan. NiMH batteries have emerged as the battery of choice for producers of electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles in the United States and Japan. Sanyo Electric's fellow licensees and investors in Ovonic Battery are HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. and SANOH INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 4). Like them and other partners, Sanyo Electric also will work with Ovonic Battery to expand the vehicle propulsion market in North America and Europe.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The need to raise money to finance the write-off of bad loans plus a strong American stock market led DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD. to sell a large block of its CIT GROUP, INC. shares. The secondary offering, one of the biggest ever, generated more than $1.3 billion for the major commercial bank. In the process, DKB reduced its stake in the New York City-headquartered commercial finance provider to about 47 percent from 77.2 percent. In September 1997, CIT Group, which has had record-breaking profits every year for the last seven, went public through a large initial public offering.
Japanese banks no longer can afford the luxury of holding onto low-yielding assets. That reality apparently was behind the decision by SUMITOMO TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. to sell BOULLIOUN AVIATION SERVICES INC. to DEUTSCHE BANK AG for $120 million. The Bellevue, Washington aircraft leasing company owns 46 planes, mostly 737s, that are leased to airlines around the world. It reportedly has 100 planes on order. Sumitomo Trust bought Boullioun in August 1994 for an undisclosed price.
Notwithstanding the financial problems of much of corporate Japan, American companies that do business over the Internet remain attractive investment options. For example, MC CAPITAL INC. and MC SILICON VALLEY INC., both U.S. subsidiaries of MITSUBISHI CORP., participated in the latest round of fund-raising by WIT CAPITAL CORP., the world's first on-line investment bank. The Manhattan company participated in 31 public offerings in its first year in business. It also has access to more than 2 million on-line investors either directly or through agreements with other on-line brokerage houses. Moreover, before yearend, Wit Capital plans to launch the Web's first digital stock market, which will allow investors to trade NASDAQ and listed shares directly with other investors, thereby avoiding spreads.
MITSUI TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. is joining the exit of Japanese banks from the United States. By the end of March 1999, the number-three trust bank's New York City subsidiary will give up its banking license and become an investment advisory firm, and a branch in Los Angeles will be closed. The pullback is part of an across-the- board retrenchment from overseas operations. When completed, Mitsui Trust no longer will have to meet the 8 percent capital adequacy ratio for internationally active banks. Instead, it will be subject to the 4 percent capital/asset ratio for banks that operate solely in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Soy sauce manufacturer KIKKOMAN CORP., one of the first Japanese companies to begin production in the United States, has started shipments from its second American manufacturing facility. The $46 million Folsom, California plant initially has the capacity to make 2.6 million gallons of soy sauce a year with a work force of 25. Its output will be sold mainly on the West Coast, while the original Kikkoman factory in Walworth, Wisconsin, now in its 26th year of operation, will serve the rest of the country. Kikkoman controls about half of the North American soy sauce market.
At a cost of $5 million, SAKATA SEED CORP. a worldwide leader in the breeding and marketing of flower and vegetable varieties for commercial growers has acquired the right to use KAMTERTER II, L.L.C.'s patented Solid Matrix Priming process in sweet corn, vegetables, flowers and culinary herbs. Among the benefits of the SMP process is germination in about half the time it takes unprimed seed. Sakata Seed also will work with Lincoln, Nebraska-based Kamterter and MONSANTO CO., which earlier acquired the right to use the SMP process on several major agronomic crops, to improve and expand the utilization of the priming technology. To backstop its introduction of the SMP process, the company's Morgan Hill, California subsidiary will build a facility for pelleting, priming and seed enhancement as well as a seed germination laboratory.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
An explosion and fire have shut down ADVANCED SILICON MATERIALS, INC.'s polycrystalline silicon plant in Moses Lake, Washington. The company, a KOMATSU ELECTRONIC METALS CO., LTD. affiliate, has ramped up production at its polysilicon plant in Butte, Montana, which opened earlier this year, to cover any shortfall in demand from manufacturers of silicon wafers used in semiconductor production. ASiMI expects to have the Washington facility back in operation in January, although the continued slump in the chip business could affect that timing. .....The soft polysilicon market reportedly has prompted MITSUBISHI MATERIALS CORP. to postpone full operations at its new, $150 polysilicon factory in Theodore, Alabama until the spring of 1999. Commercial production began in May (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, pp. 4-5).
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
By 2001, Cleveland-headquartered EUCLID-HI-TACHI HEAVY EQUIPMENT, INC. will be a wholly owned HITACHI CONSTRUCTION MACHINERY CO., LTD. company. The world's third-largest manufacturer of dump trucks used in mining now is jointly owned by AB VOLVO (60 percent). However, Hitachi Construction and its Swedish partner have become competitors in the international construction machinery market with Volvo's acquisition of a South Korean earthmoving equipment maker, and that change apparently has affected their Euclid-Hitachi Heavy Equipment relationship. Industry sources estimate that it will cost the Japanese company roughly $41 million to buy out Volvo's share in Euclid-Hitachi Heavy Equipment, which had 1997 sales around $173.6 million. Hitachi Construction initially acquired a 19.5 percent stake in what became Euclid-Hitachi Heavy Equipment in January 1994. The joint venture has production facilities in Ontario, Canada.
With machine tool exports to East Asia in a tailspin, HOWA MACHINERY, LTD. is putting more emphasis on the American market where it has had little success to date. The Nagoya producer has named MITSUI MACHINE TECHNOLOGY, INC. of Glendale Heights, Illinois as the exclusive distributor of its compact NS 30 vertical machining center. Howa Machinery is hoping that MMTI, a MITSUI & CO., LTD. subsidiary, will sell 30 MCs in the first year and 100 annually after three years. The primary customers for the NS 30 are appliance and automotive parts manufacturers.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
To respond more quickly to changes in the American marketplace, FUJI PHOTO FILM CO., LTD. is building a R&D facility at its sprawling Greenwood, South Carolina manufacturing complex. The center should be fully operational by early in 1999. How much it will cost and how many people will be employed were not disclosed. The staff initially will focus on photographic products, but in time R&D on other products could be added. Fujifilm has invested more than $1 billion in the Greenwood campus over the last decade. The complex houses six plants for the production of presensitized plates for offset printing, color photographic paper, graphic arts film, 35-millimeter color film, videocassette tape and disposable cameras as well as the largest Fujifilm distribution center in the world. Employment now stands at over 1,200 people.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Precision measuring instrument manufacturer MITUTOYO CORP. is building a second plant in Aurora, Illinois to supply the growing American demand for dial indicators or gauges. Scheduled for operations in June 1999, the $4.4 million factory will have the capacity to produce 2,000 dial indicators a month. The existing Aurora facility can turn out 8,000 gauges monthly. Through its MTI CORP. subsidiary, Mitutoyo will do design work at the new plant to tailor products to customers' requirements. MTI also has facilities in City of Industry, California, Elk Grove Village, Illinois and Plymouth, Michigan.
At a cost of $10 million, TDK CORP.'s Port Washington, New York subsidiary bought EMC AUTOMATION INC., an Austin, Texas designer and manufacturer of test systems used for electronic noise measurements. The acquisition positions TDK to provide a complete solution to the increasingly challenging problem of electronic noise interference. It already is strong in the production of radiowave absorbing materials, EMC (electromagnetic-compatibility) suppression components and advanced anechoic chambers. With access to EMC Automation's test systems capability, TDK now can offer customers EMC test services. The Texas company will be operated as a wholly owned unit of TDK's U.S. subsidiary.
A second Japanese company is working with ATX TECHNOLOGIES, INC., which makes vehicle tracking systems and operates the round-the-clock On-Guard Response Center staffed by emergency communications specialists. ALPINE ELECTRONICS, INC. also joined NICHIMEN CORP. in investing $1 million in the San Antonio, Texas company for a 4.4 percent stake. ATX Technologies will support the January launch by Alpine's Torrance, California subsidiary of the Mobile MayDay System, which will use the Global Positioning System and wireless communications to track vehicles. The On-Guard Response Center will provide 24-hour emergency and concierge services for the Alpine system. Trader Nichimen teamed up with ATX Technologies in September 1997.
Since mid-1991, the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has been installing a real-time weather information system across the United States to replace the manual surface observation techniques currently used. By 2002, ASOS (automated surface observing system) units will be installed at more than 900 locations. The lightning-detection sensor in each ASOS unit will be supplied by EIKO PRECISION CO., LTD. of Tokyo. The contract for its MS-092 sensor could be worth as much as $20 million.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Within the space of a week, two big Japanese semiconductor manufacturers announced relationships with CENTILLIUM TECHNOLOGY CORP., an 18-month-old fabless chip company developing DSL (digital subscriber line) chipsets for makers of telecommunications equipment. MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. and the Fremont, California firm tied up to deliver chipset and system-on-a-chip solutions for the DSL market. Their collaboration has resulted in a xDSL ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) that integrates Centillium's digital signal processing technology with MELCO's high-speed static RAM technology. The alliance gives the start-up production capacity as well as help in providing higher levels of xDSL performance by integrating additional key DSL system functions into a single chip. In addition, MELCO joined MITSUBISHI CORP., SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. and other companies in investing in Centillium.
For its part, NEC CORP., among the biggest Japanese telecommunications equipment manufacturers, named CENTILLIUM TECHNOLOGY CORP. its DSL chipset supplier. Under the four-year agreement, NEC will integrated the start-up's CopperLite chipset into a family of DSL access multiplexers for worldwide sale. Executives said that they chose the CopperLite chipset because it is easy to deploy, has low power requirements, enables high-density solutions and will be compliant with the forthcoming G.Lite/DMT international standard for DSL products. NEC's DSL access multiplexer line is expected to be released in the first half of 1999.
HITACHI SEMICONDUCTOR (AMERICA), INC., which shuttered its DRAM plant in Irving, Texas at the start of September (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 7), signed deals with two companies to produce memory modules for its PC customers. Fountain Valley, California-based KINGSTON TECHNOLOGY CORP. will provide global manufacturing and testing for Hitachi Semiconductor's PC- 100 memory modules. It reportedly is the first non-HITACHI, LTD. company to qualify to make these products. Kingston, the dominant force in the American PC memory board market, has been 80 percent owned by SOFTBANK CORP. since the fall of 1996. Similarly, TANISYS TECHNOLOGY, INC. will employ its quick-turn build-to-order program to design, make and supply memory modules for Hitachi Semiconductor's OEM customers. North American PC buyers will be serviced from the company's headquarters plant in Austin, Texas, while orders from European customers will be filled at a Tanisys facility in Scotland.
Both to better insulate itself from the vagaries of the memory market and to capitalize on expanding demand, TOSHIBA CORP. plans to strengthen its ASIC business in the United States. It will bolster its lineup of the custom-made devices, which are finding more applications in communications equipment and digital consumer electronics products. At the same time, Toshiba will launch a more aggressive marketing campaign among heavyweights in the American networking equipment market.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Hoping to exploit the growing popularity of MICROSOFT CORP.'s Windows CE operating system for handheld PCs and embedded devices, CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. created a subsidiary in San Jose, California to develop and market software for this market. CASIO SOFT, INC. will work not only on products to support its parent's line of CASSIOPEIA handheld PCs but also Windows CE-based systems from other manufacturers. The company already has released the first three products in its Business Tools for Windows CE series. They are CSI Project, a project management companion to Microsoft Project that retails for a suggested $80; the $60 CSI PowerPack, a collection of six utilities; and CSI Outliner, an idea outliner and list organizer that goes for about $40. Casio Soft, which is starting out with 13 employees, is looking for sales of $2.2 million in its first year of operation. By 2001, it expects to have annual revenues of $10 million and double the staffing.
HITACHI SOFTWARE ENGINEERING CO., LTD. has spun out the Image and Information Systems division of its San Bruno, California HITACHI SOFTWARE ENGINEERING AMERICA, LTD. subsidiary into HITACHI SOFTWARE GLOBAL TECHNOLOGY, LTD. The new company, currently based in Boulder, Colorado but soon to be headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, starts off life as a leading developer of imaging and raster-to-vector conversion software for the computer-aided design and geographic information systems markets as well as a supplier of custom software solutions and data conversion services. Hitachi Software Global Technology has several new products ready for introduction in 1999. These, it hopes, will help boost revenues from $6.6 million in its first year of independent operation to $8.3 million after three years. The start-up counts among its customers some Fortune 500 companies.
The latest evolution in the nearly 30-year relationship between ASAHI CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. and GERBER TECHNOLOGY, INC., which manufactures automation equipment for the apparel industry and a variety of others, is an agreement to collaborate on the advancement of the Japanese partner's AGMS-3D pattern design and development system. For starters, they are adapting the three-dimensional production pattern-making program, introduced in Japan five years ago, to run on PCs rather than just on RISC-based engineering workstations. Tolland, Connecticut-based Gerber Technology also has been given exclusive worldwide rights outside Japan and South Korea to distribute the AGMS-3D program as an option with its AccuMark system to apparel customers seeking the accuracy and the efficiency that 3D imaging brings to the visualization, modification and confirmation of pattern designs.
The U.S. subsidiary of a sixth Japanese financial institution has selected software from SUNGARD DATA SYSTEMS INC. to help manage its operations. Following in the footsteps of its parent (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 24), YASUDA TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD.'s New York City unit will use the Global Plus system to support its $15 billion North American custody business. The package is a Year 2000-ready, multicurrency, accrual-based asset management and accounting system. It will cost effectively provide sales and customer service tools to backstop front-office procedures while automating back-office processes. The Global Plus system will be operational at Yasuda Trust's Manhattan data center in May 1999.
Using the nationwide backbone of Internet service provider VERIO INC., the New York City subsidiary of NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. has launched Internet access services for corporate customers, particularly Japanese multinationals operating in the United States. Arcstar Internet provides a complete menu of options, including Web hosting and server coallocation as well as Internet connectivity. Last spring, NTT invested $100 million in Englewood, Colorado-based Verio, which bought it an 11.75 percent stake in the fast-expanding ISP (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 6). Subscribers to Arcstar Internet are able to connect to the Internet through about 200 access points across the country.
In an alliance designed to demonstrate the expanded capabilities of the third generation of wireless networks, MATSUSHITA COMMUNICATION INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and NORTHERN TELECOM LTD. will deploy experimental network systems, services and terminals based on wideband CDMA (code-division multiple access) technology. Before yearend, the partners will begin trials in North America, Europe and Asia that test on a variety of Panasonic-brand mobile terminal devices the ability of W-CDMA to deliver such services as high-bandwidth Internet access and multimedia communications as well as voice over wireless networks built by Nortel Networks. That equipment, which will draw on the expertise of the big Canadian communications switch manufacturer and the data networking knowledge of its BAY NETWORKS, INC. subsidiary, will enable mobile multimedia applications at speeds up to 384 kilobits per second. In the next phase of their collaboration, Matsushita Communication Industrial and Nortel Networks intend to jointly develop end-to-end solutions for W-CDMA voice and data applications.
WYTEC, INC., a developer of standards-based cellular communications products, has gained a key partner, MARUBENI CORP., in its drive to sell broadband wireless systems around the world. The Santa Clara, California company will provide the technology and the systems engineering for the deployment of LMDS (local multipoint distribution systems) equipment, while the trader will offer prime contracting services and financing to communications services providers. LMDS broadband wireless systems operate in the 25-gigahertz to 32-GHz frequency band. As part of their tie-up, Marubeni made an equity investment of undisclosed size in Wytec.
The NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. has parlayed its Express5800 server technology to move into two new markets. First, it introduced a fully integrated communications server that links remote clients, telecommuters and branch offices to the corporate network using analog or digital connections over the public telephone network or through virtual private networks. The open systems-based Express5800 Remote Access Server employs industry-standard processors, Microsoft NT Server software and third-party applications to host and manage remote communications. Two configurations of the Express5800 RAS are available. One can handle remote connections for up to 16 simultaneous digital or analog calls; its pricing starts at $12,000. The other, which begins at $16,000, is designed for settings requiring remote connections for as many as 48 concurrent digital or analog calls.
The NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. also has teamed up with JDL TECHNOLOGIES and HUGHES NETWORK SYSTEMS, INC. to bring high-speed Internet access to urban and rural schools at generally more affordable costs than other solutions. The customizable Express5800 K-12WORLD Internet Access Server package includes an Express5800 server, Edina, Minnesota-based JDL's K-12WORLD Internet Access Server software, a modem and an optional DirecPC satellite dish from Hughes Network of Germantown, Maryland for schools that do not have access to high-speed data lines. This combination, which starts at $6,100, provides Internet access at speeds of up to 400 kilobits per second. Downloaded information can be stored in the Express5800 to create an electronic reference source for students to tap instead of performing their own Internet searches.
The skyrocketing demand in the United States for network capacity to accommodate constantly expanding data communications finally could provide HITACHI, LTD. the opening it needs to boost heretofore negligible sales of capacity-expanding optical transmission equipment. That, at least, is the hope of Norcross, Georgia-based HITACHI TELECOM (USA), INC., which believes that it can build sales of optical transmission systems from almost nothing now to $495.9 million in 2003. To this end, the company will expand its lineup of SONET (synchronous optical network), DWDM (dense wave-division multiplexer) and OXC (optical cross-connect) equipment. Hitachi Telecom, which now employs some 200 people, also plans to increase employment to strengthen its marketing and maintenance capabilities.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
After 15 years, divergent business interests have led to a change in the ownership of NORTH AMERICAN LIGHTING, INC., the largest independent U.S. manufacturer of automotive lighting equipment. KOITO MANUFACTURING CO., LTD., which owned 40 percent of the maker of headlamps and tail lamps, bought the 50 percent share of HELLA KG HUECK & CO. for an undisclosed amount, reported to be $45 million. ICHIKOH INDUSTRIES, LTD. continues to own the remaining 10 percent of North American Lighting. Germany's Hella, itself a major producer of lighting equipment as well as automotive electronics, apparently felt that the joint venture limited its freedom to serve the company's primary customers in the United States and Canada. North American Lighting operates out of plants in Flora and Salem, Illinois. It employs some 2,000 people and had 1997 revenues of $280 million. TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s American and Canadian factories are North American Lighting's main customers, but the company ships parts to all the other Japanese transplant operations and to the Big Three U.S. automotive makers.
Ten months after KAYABA INDUSTRIES CO., LTD. and ARVIN INDUSTRIES, INC. worked out a production-sharing deal on suspension systems (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 8), the two have formalized the arrangement in a joint venture. The Japanese partner owns 49.9 percent of ARVIN- KAYABA LLC. It contributed to the new company its 10-year-old KYB INDUSTRIES, INC. plant in Franklin, Indiana, which specializes in struts. Arvin of Columbus, Indiana, also the joint venture's headquarters, is the majority owner. It spun off to Arvin-Kayaba its Pulaski, Tennessee shock absorber factory. Kayaba Industries hopes that the alliance with Arvin will enable it to gain market share in North America.
Increasing orders from CHRYSLER CORP. and from the U.S. operations of TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. are behind the announcement by competitor TOKICO, LTD. of another expansion of its Berea, Kentucky shock absorber plant. By 2000, TOKICO (USA), INC., which has been in business since 1988, will have the capacity to turn out 800,000 shock absorbers a month versus roughly 550,000 units now. The addition of two lines to the plant's current nine will cost about $20 million. The expansion will increase the 600-employee payroll by as many as 50 people. With the extra output, Tokico (USA) is projecting FY 2000 sales of $253 million compared with $220 million in FY 1997. Despite the new orders from Chrysler for shocks for the Neon subcompact and from the two transplants, FORD MOTOR CO. remains the company's primary customer.
Another Japanese-affiliated parts supplier has announced plans to expand to fill an order from CHRYSLER CORP. Bardstown, Kentucky-headquartered INTERTEC SYSTEMS, LLC, one of the biggest independ-ent makers of instrument panels in North America, will supply modular instrument panels for the 2002-model-year Jeep Cherokee. Because the equally owned joint venture between INOAC CORP. and JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC. is responsible for design, development, production, just- in-time delivery and quality assurance for the instrument panel modules, it will have to build a factory near the Jeep Cherokee assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio. Neither the facility's exact location nor any other details have been decided. Modular parts, still a relatively new concept in the automotive industry, shift to suppliers the job of building up sections of a vehicle rather than just delivering individual parts or even subassemblies to the car or truck manufacturer. Intertec Systems was formed in February 1996 from several existing Inoac and JCI plants in North America.
HONDA TRANSMISSION MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA, INC., which since early 1997 has been responsible for building all the automatic transmissions for HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s North American-assembled cars, is producing the Sequential Sportshift for the 1999 Acura 3.2TL and Acura 3.5TL cars made in Marysville, Ohio. This automatic transmission gives the driver the option of selecting the gear, much like a manual transmission. HTM's Russells Point, Ohio plant expect to turn out 40,000 Sequential Sportshifts for the Acura TL in its first year of North American production. In the meantime, it is boosting automatic transmission capacity to 750,000 units this year from about 606,000 units in 1997.
Full-scale production has been reached at DENSO CORP.'s $40 million fuel injector plant in Athens, Tennessee. Although the second plant run by DENSO MANUFACTURING TENNESSEE, INC. opened only recently, the company already is thinking expansion. By 2003, it plans to boost capacity to 350,000 fuel injectors a month from the current 100,000 units. Moreover, today's work force of 60 people could climb to 260 by 2001. DMT's original plant, located in Marysville, Tennessee, produces starters, alternators, electronic engine control units and instrument clusters. It has been in business since 1990.
According to current planning, TAIHO KOGYO CO., LTD.'s Tiffin, Ohio plant will start to make engine bearings sometime in 2000. The TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. affiliate now outsources production of main and connecting rod engine bearings for Japanese- owned vehicle factories in North America to FEDERAL-MOGUL CORP., providing its technology to the big Southfield, Michigan-based bearing manufacturer. New orders for these parts will be filled by TAIHO CORP. OF AMERICA, although all the details have not yet been finalized. The subsidiary, which began production in mid-1996, now makes different types of bushings for bearings for the Big Three U.S. automotive manufacturers as well as an air-conditioning compressor component known as a hemisphere shoe.
CHUO SPRING CO., LTD. has earmarked $3.3 million to build a plant at its majority- owned ACK CONTROLS, INC. subsidiary in Glasgow, Kentucky for springs that open and close engine valves. Operations will start sometime in 1999, with full production of 500,000 to 600,000 engine valve springs a year scheduled for 2000. The new business is expected to produce revenues of $4.1 million a year from sales to the North American plants of TOYOTA MOTOR CORP., HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. and, hopefully, the Big Three U.S. automotive manufacturers. For the last eight years, ACK Controls has made automotive control cables. Sales of that product now are running at $33.1 million a year.
Expanding capacity and building factories dedicated to specific processes and products are the primary means by which the Plymouth, Michigan-head-quartered partnership between NOK CORP. and Germany's FREUDENBERG & CO. plans to boost sales of sealing components to $1 billion in 2000 from $640 million in 1997. In that vein, FREUDENBERG-NOK is building a $5 million plant in Northfield, New Hampshire for axle seal production. When the facility opens in the spring of 1999, axle seals now made at the company's Bristol, New Hampshire factory will be shifted, and the older plant will be used exclusively to manufacture oil seals. The Northfield operation, which will employ as many as 240 people from within the Freudenberg- NOK group, will turn out axle seals for sport-utility vehicles, light trucks and heavy-duty trucks. Major customers include Detroit's AMERICAN AXLE & MANUFACTURING, INC., FORD MOTOR CO. and FREIGHTLINER CORP. of Portland, Oregon. Together, Freudenberg and NOK group companies have annual sales of more than $6 billion, including automotive-derived revenues of $3.5 billion. They are the world's largest manufacturers of sealing components and the producers of a variety of other precision-molded rubber and plastic components for automotive and nonautomotive industries alike.
Increasing demand for floor mats from transplanted Japanese vehicle manufacturers and Detroit is behind the bicoastal expansion of JAPAN VILENE CO., LTD.'s U.S. manufacturing operations. The company's 15-year-old Santa Fe Springs, California subsidiary, VIAM MANUFACTURING INC., not only is expanding its own capacity but also is overseeing the establishment of VIAM LP and its $8 million factory in Manchester, Tennessee. The new plant, scheduled to start up in July 1999 with 60 employees, will have the capacity to make floor mats for 600,000 vehicles in the first year of operations and 1 million sets in 2000. With the extra output from the California facility, Japan Vilene will be able to make floor mats for 2.1 million North American- built cars and trucks in 2000. That, it projects, should double U.S. sales to $60 million a year.
In an announcement that was long on possibilities but short on specifics, TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. and EXXON CORP. said that they had entered into a long-term relationship to "accelerate the pace of development" of advanced internal combustion engines and hybrids as well as the fuels and the lubricants that these technologies will require. To this end, the two industry heavyweights will share business and technical information, identify critical cross-industry factors affecting future vehicle technology and conduct joint research on new vehicle systems. Their short-term goal, Toyota and Exxon stated, is to reduce vehicle emissions. Over the longer run, they hope to develop more efficient power sources. For the last three years-plus, research teams from Toyota and Exxon have been collaborating to improve the performance of lean- burn gasoline engines and to reduce particulate emissions from advanced diesel engines.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Japan's biggest residential mapmaking company, ZENRIN CO., LTD., acquired INTERSTATE AMERICA INC. from Canada's SOUTHAM INC. for roughly $1.8 million. Norcross, Georgia-based IA is the publisher of four travel resource directories for transportation industry professionals and the general public. It also provides ITS (intelligent transportation system) data for mapping software and in-vehicle navigation systems, a field into which Zenrin is aggressively moving (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 338, November 1997, p. 7). The Fukuoka prefecture company hopes to use IA to expand U.S. sales of map-based information products and services.
Management consultant D. BRAIN CO., LTD. and Manhattan's ROBERTS MITANI & CO. have formed a partnership to help entrepreneurial Japanese firms with promising technologies to expand into the American market. The Tokyo company will identify candidate start-ups. If they are interested, the New York City partnership and Roberts Mitani will advise them on doing business in the United States and provide support, including recruiting executives. The two partners are prepared to help 10 businesses in the first year of their tie-up.
A second code-sharing arrangement has been forged between the airline industries of Japan and the United States. ALL NIPPON AIRWAYS CO., LTD. and UAL CORP.'s United Airlines will code share on 391 weekly flights. The arrangement initially gives Japan's largest domestic carrier access to Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Nevada, Miami, Orlando, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, San Diego, California, San Francisco and Seattle, while United now can offer the destinations of Fukuoka, Nagoya, Okinawa and Sapporo to its customers. JAPAN AIRLINES CO., LTD. and AMR CORP.'s American Airlines were the first transpacific carriers to announce a code-sharing deal (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 10).
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Two American manufacturers of animal health-care products have set their sights on Japan, second only to the United States as a market for veterinary drugs. HESKA CORP. gave NOVARTIS ANIMAL HEALTH, INC. exclusive rights to distribute through affiliate NOVARTIS AGRO K.K. certain of the company's products. These initially include the Fort Collins, Colorado firm's feline and canine heartworm in-clinic diagnostic tests, periodontal disease therapeutic and feline viral vaccines. Marketing will start once regulatory approval is received. In exchange for the distribution rights, Novartis Animal Health gave Heska a right of first refusal to evaluate for possible development and marketing worldwide certain new product technologies for the veterinary market as they become available.
SYNBIOTICS CORP. also has a strong marketing partner for its already-approved-for- sale Witness line of point-of-care tests for heartworm in dogs and leukemia virus in cats: MERIAL NIPPON ZENYAKU KOGYO CO., LTD. That company is a joint venture between NIPPON ZENYAKU KOGYO CO., LTD., Japan's biggest veterinary animal health company, and the world's largest animal health-care supplier, London's MERIAL LTD., itself an equal partnership between Synbiotics and MERCK & CO., INC. San Diego, California-based Synbiotics also is working directly with NZK to register and market additional products. Another of its agents in Japan, DAIICHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., is preparing to register for sale six dog and cat vaccines and two diagnostic test kits under a January 1996 distribution agreement.
In a fundamental change in their relationship, NOVON INTERNATIONAL, INC. has given its 18-month-old Tokyo subsidiary sole responsibility for producing Degra- NOVON, which makes plastics biodegradable, for the world market outside of China. Degra-NOVON is a combination of polymers, starch, chemicals and catalyst systems. Plastics incorporating it begin to degrade when the starch granules in the polymer are attacked by microorganisms. Degradation also is accelerated by the formation of peroxides. Since April, NOVON JAPAN, INC. has been making Degra-NOVON at the rate of 30 tons a month at a factory in the eastern part of Japan. In December, it will open a 100-ton-a-month plant in the western area of the country, although initially that facility will produce about 30 tons of Degra-NOVON a month. Tonawanda, New York- headquartered Novon International, which manufactures other products, will function as the R&D center for Degra-NOVON and as the international sales base.
Two reflective display films developed by MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO.'s Optical Systems division are on the market through SUMITOMO 3M LTD. The films, which improve the readability and the style of reflective-mode LCDs, incorporate 3M's proprietary reflective polarizer and diffuse adhesive technologies. They allow the replacement of the bottom polorizer assembly used in conventional displays. Product applications for the black reflective display film include calculators, instrumentation and appliances. The clear version can be used in handheld PCs, cellular phones, pagers and watches and clocks. Sumitomo 3M believes that sales of the two films could reach $24.8 million in their initial year of availability.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
In December, NCR CORP., one of the world's biggest manufacturers of automatic teller machines and cash dispensers, will spin off part of its subsidiary's ATM/CD business into an independent company that will offer multivendor solution services to financial institutions. J-ATM CORP., to be headquartered in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture, not only will sell NCR hardware but will provide as well multivendor service, installation, remote monitoring and network management. The new company will be staffed by 400 people. It will be looking for revenues of $99.2 million in 1999. The reorganization does not affect ATM/CD development work, which will remain the responsibility of NCR's wholly owned subsidiary.
American competitors continue to position themselves for the time when Japan fully delivers on its ranking as the world's second-largest computer market. For example, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. reportedly will move final assembly of PCs for local sale to its suburban Tokyo distribution facility from Singapore within 1999. That switch not only will cut transportation costs and shorten delivery times but also will give the company more flexibility to customize products to buyers' requirements and a better handle on inventory. Sources indicate that final assembly of popular desktop PCs will start in February, followed by PC servers in May. HP Japan hopes to double PC sales in the November 1998-October 1999 period from the estimated 90,000 units sold in the just-completed business year.
Doing final assembly in Japan also will make HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. a more efficient OEM supplier of PCs to longtime business partner OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. In addition, it will ease implementation of a recent contract that enables NIHON UNISYS, LTD. to resell and support a range of HP Japan computer products. This deal mirrors the one concluded in June by HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and UNISYS CORP. Under it, such products as HP Vectra PCs, HP Brio PCs, HP Kayak PC Workstations, HP NetServer systems and HP OmniBook notebook computers will be built to Nihon Unisys customer specifications and shipped directly to the buyer's location. The hardware will carry the logos of both HP Japan and Nihon Unisys.
GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary has unveiled a wide-ranging marketing initiative to lift its PC sales. The company is selling machines with preinstalled Internet access software to allow out-of-the-box connectivity. It also has launched a trade-in program that gives buyers of Gateway PCs market prices for machines that are two to four years old. Installment payments now are possible as well. In addition, Gateway's affiliate will send technicians to owners' homes to fix problems.
With increasing numbers of small and midsized companies joining big firms in deciding to outsource the development and the operation of their information systems, IBM JAPAN LTD. has received more requests for assistance than its staff can handle. Help is on the way, however. Under a contract with INTEC INC., the major Toyama prefecture data-processing company will make available as many as 1,000 engineers working at 20 of its nationwide computer centers to set up and run businesses' computer systems. Intec expects the deal with IBM Japan, which will handle the marketing and the administrative sides of the outsourcing contracts, to generate annual revenues of $82.6 million after three years.
A second generation of data center servers from SEQUENT COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC. based on the Beaverton, Oregon manufacturer's alternative NUMA-Q architecture is available. The industry's first Pentium II Xeon-based server scalable beyond eight processors, the NUMA-Q 2000 scales from four to 64 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors utilizing one to 16 four-processor boards or quads, as Sequent calls them. That capability delivers a significant performance improvement on the initial NUMA-Q 2000 family as well as the competition. Pricing also is more aggressive. Moreover, the second-generation product can support as much as 64 GB of main memory and 48 terabytes of connected storage, including the first Fibre Channel direct-connect capability to EMC CORP. Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems. In the first quarter of 1999, Sequent will extend its NUMA-Q platform down to address the requirements of the midrange market. The NUMA-Q 1000 will be available as a four-processor or an eight-processor system.
The first high-end COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. servers powered by the ultrafast Alpha 21264 (EV6) 64-bit RISC processor will be released in December. The initial members of the AlphaServer GS series, the AlphaServer GS60 and the AlphaServer GS140, replace current AlphaServer 8200 and 8400 systems, providing up to twice the power and application performance. Like their predecessors, the new models will support DIGITAL UNIX, OpenVMS and Windows NT. Pricing of an AlphaServer GS60 with 4 GB of memory starts at $247,900. The AlphaServer GS140 costs $504,100 and up. Compaq's subsidiary expects to sell between 200 and 300 AlphaServer GS series products in their first year on the market for such demanding jobs as enterprise decision support, Internet service and high-performance technical applications. Although no timetable has been released, Compaq will use the Alpha 21264 chip in planned midrange AlphaServers (ES series) and low-end AlphaServers (DS series).
The battle among U.S. companies for share in the Unix server market is just as intense in Japan as it is at home. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. believes that it can gain ground with two lines of highly rackable, performance-dense enterprise servers tailored for Internet service providers. Both the HP 9000 A-Class Enterprise Server and the HP 9000 R-Class Enterprise Server come integrated with the HP Secure Web Console, which allows ISPs to manage their servers remotely from virtually any location worldwide. The two lines also feature HP Web Quality of Service technology, which delivers peak user management and privilege-based services, thereby enabling ISPs to offer aggressive service-level guarantees. Pricing for the A-Class servers starts at a surprisingly low $5,900. The R-Class, which is designed for ISPs that want extremely high-perform-ance density, superior racking capabilities and scalability, goes for $29,400 and up. The $65,200-plus HP 9000 D-Class Enterprise Server, introduced at the same time, is targeted at applications where scalability is the primary purchasing criterion.
SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary parried with the Netra t 1125 server, the first Netra telco platform released in Japan. This carrier-grade system was designed specifically for easy deployment in network environments. Offering a variety of rack- mount options, the dual processor-capable system leverages the latest Sun UltraSPARC technology. A system with a single 300-MHz UltraSPARC-II processor starts at $32,300, while a dual-processor configuration costs anywhere from $54,500.
In a worldwide release, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. added two models to its RS/6000 line of Unix workstations that it said set a new standard for the speed of graphics processing. The RS/6000 43P Model 260 runs off the new POWER3 processor. According to IBM, it delivers more raw computing power than the RISC chips powering Unix machines from HEWLETT-PACKARD CO., SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. However, the key to the claimed record-setting graphics performance of the Model 260 is a design that allows the processor to work together with IBM's just-released GXT3000P graphics adapter. IBM JAPAN LTD. has listed the Model 260, its parent's first 64-bit symmetric multiprocessor workstation, at $26,700. The companion RS/6000 43P Model 150 workstation incorporates the fastest 32-bit PowerPC ever, a 375-MHz processor. This power is especially useful for mechanical computer-aided design. The Model 150, which provides twice the performance of its predecessor, also can be used as an e-business server. It is priced at $16,500.
To ensure that it remains one of the fast-growing suppliers of Windows NT workstations, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced the complete line of graphics-optimized IntelliStation workstations. The entry-level model, the E Pro, costs $4,500. It is designed for companies moving up to Windows NT from Windows 95. The midrange M Pro delivers accelerated two-dimensional graphics, entry-level 3D or advanced 3D. Powered by one or two Pentium II processors running at up to 450 MHz, the M Pro comes with 512 KB of L2 cache and INTEL CORP.'s bandwidth-enhancing 440BX AGPset (accelerated graphics port) chipset. Pricing begins at $5,300. Rounding out the IntelliStation line is the just-released Z Pro. It marks the debut of the 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processor with its supporting 440GX AGPset chipset in this family. Targeted at compute and graphics-intensive applications, the $12,200-and-up Z Pro is equipped with a full suite of manageability features.
HEWLETT-PACKARD CO., the worldwide Unix and Windows NT workstation leader, also has brought the speed and the performance capabilities of the 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processor and the 440GX AGPset chipset to the HP Kayak PC Workstation family. The line's high end is defined by the HP Kayak XW PC Workstation with HP VISUALIZE fx6. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has priced this system, claimed to deliver the fastest 3D graphics in a Windows NT environment, from $10,700. The midrange PC workstation market is covered by the HP Kayak XU PC Workstation. HP boosts that the new machine provides best-in-class entry-level 3D OpenGL graphics performance at prices that begin in Japan at $6,900. HP Japan also added a low-end HP Kayak XA PC Workstation built around a 450-MHz Pentium II processor with its accompanying 440BX AGPset chipset. For prices beginning at $3,800, buyers have a choice of graphics accelerators: a Matrox Millenium G200 AGP 2X card for 2D performance or an ELSA GLoria Synergy+ AGP card for 3D applications.
Going head-to-head with these products is the Compaq Professional Workstation SP700. The first product in a new Scalable Performance line of professional workstations, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. says that it is designed for users that require scalability, expandability and optimum performance. Like the competition, the SP700 incorporates the latest Pentium II Xeon processor technology and offers dual processor support. Buyers also can choose between a 2D graphics controller, the ELSA GLoria Synergy+, or 3D support in the form of the Compaq PowerStorm 300 card. A 2D-capable SP700 is priced from $7,400, while Compaq's subsidiary has listed the 3D variant at $11,600 and up.
INTERGRAPH CORP. is making its own best-in-class performance claims for the TDZ 2000 GX1 ViZual Workstation family, which now is available with a 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processor along with the 440GX AGPset chipset and an AGP graphics bus. The Huntsville, Alabama company also boasts that the TDZ 2000 GX1 offers the industry's broadest selection of 2D and 3D graphics options, including its own Intense 3D Pro and RealiZm II 3D Graphics, as well as the lone graphics upgrade program, which will allow customers to upgrade their Xeon-based machines to Intergraph's forthcoming Wildcat 3D Graphics Technology. The com-pany's subsidiary has started pricing of the new TDZ 2000 GX1 system at $9,500.
Servers building on the strengths of the Pentium II Xeon technology continue to appear on the market. DATA GENERAL CORP.'s subsidiary, for instance, released the AViiON AV 3700 department server. It supports up to four 400-MHz Xeon chips and provides 512 KB or 1 MB of L2 cache, an internal memory expandable to 4 GB, a high- performance dual PCI (peripheral component interconnect) bus and a number of high- availability features. Much the same description applies to MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC.'s NetFRAME 6200 server, which starts at $7,800. Both companies' products are being marketed as ideal for such uses as Internet/intranet/extranet and print/file and for groupware applications like e-mail and BackOffice.
More manufacturers also have released departmental servers that take advantage of the price/perform-ance characteristics of the 450-MHz Pentium II processor. These include the dual processor-capable HP NetServer LPr from HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and the similarly configurable AViiON AV 2700 from DATA GENERAL CORP. The HP product is notable for being the first Windows NT server to be backed by a 99.9 percent uptime commitment. The HP NetServer LPr is priced from $6,300, while the AV 2700, like other DG products, is open-priced. .....Meanwhile, GATEWAY 2000, INC., a relative newcomer to the PC server business (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 12), has on the market the ALR 7200 for small workgroups. It is powered by one or two 350-MHz Pentium II processors.
The higher number of PCs for the workplace introduced recently would seem to indicate that U.S. suppliers believe the long-awaited upturn in business demand is at hand. The new products include the HP Vectra VL series 8HE line from HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. Powered by a 450-MHz Pentium II processor with 512 KB of integrated cache, this line comes with a 100-MHz bus, the 440BX AGPset chipset, 8 MB of video memory, a 4X DVD-ROM drive, 10.1 GB of hard disk storage and the Matrox Millenium G200 3D AGP graphics controller. The desktop version of the HP Vectra VL/8HE costs about $4,800; the minitower configuration is priced roughly $100 more.
Going after the networking part of the market, GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary released a series of Windows 95 managed PCs. Approximately $1,400 buys the E- 1200 entry-level client machine, which runs off a 333-MHz Celeron processor with 128 KB of cache. It has 32 MB of SRAM, a 3.2-GB Ultra ATA hard drive, a 3.5-inch 1.44-MB diskette drive, a 13X CD-ROM drive, a graphics accelerator and a 15-inch color monitor. The new line also includes the E-3200 managed PCs, which use either a 350-MHz, 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II processor with 512 KB of cache. These machines are equipped with 96 MB of SDRAM expandable to 384 MB, a 6.4-GB Smart II Ultra ATA hard drive, the same diskette and CD-ROM drives as the E-1200, a 17-inch monitor and a powerful graphics accelerator. Pricing for the E-3200 line begins at less than $1,700.
The SOHO market is the primary target of MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC.'s refreshed line of value-priced Millennia PCs. The six models include the Millennia 450 MicroTower, which features a 450-MHz Pentium II processor with a 100-MHz system bus and SDRAM memory along with the 440BX AGPset chipset, and the 333-MHz Celeron-powered Millennia C333 MicroTower with a 440EX PCI chipset.
In what would seem like a case of overkill, GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary announced a PC for the home powered by the ultrafast 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processor. The company acknowledges, however, that the fully featured, multimedia- oriented GX-450 is aimed at the real computer enthusiast, the person in search of the ultimate PC.
In time for the Christmas shopping season, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary unveiled seven desktop models in its home-oriented Presario family as well as a pair of Presario notebooks. All of the machines are value-priced, thanks in part to the use of processors from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. The four low-end desktops cost from under $1,200 to less than $1,600. The three higher-performance desktops range from $1,800 to $2,300. Typical of the latter models is the Internet-optimized Presario 5150, which runs off a 350-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor with 3D Now! technology and comes with a 100-MHz system bus and 512 KB of L2 pipeline burst cache. The two notebooks, priced from under $1,700 to $2,500, include the Presario 1235. Billed as the affordable Internet notebook, it uses a 266-MHz AMD-K6-2 MMX Enhanced mobile processor.
Affordability also is IBM JAPAN LTD.'s marketing theme for the new ThinkPad i series multimedia-optimized, all-in-one notebooks aimed at the individual buyer. The ThinkPad i is available through mail order with a 266-MHz mobile Pentium II processor for $1,900 or with a Pentium processor with MMX technology for $2,200.
IBM JAPAN LTD. also is shipping a new line of ThinkPad notebooks designed specifically for small and midsized businesses. The ThinkPad 390 series provides an integrated all-in-one design, compatibility with Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and a number of high-end features packaged in the slim form (1.8 inches) much in demand in Japan today. The ThinkPad 390 also is aggressively priced. A model with a 233- MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, a 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display, 32 MB of internal memory, 3.2 GB of disk drive storage, a CD-ROM drive and an integrated 56K modem costs $2,500. A machine with a 233-MHz mobile Pentium II processor also is available, as is one with a 266-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, a 14.1-inch active-matrix TFT display, a 4.3-GB hard drive and 64 MB of system memory. The latter goes for $4,100.
The follow-on to the DIGITAL HiNote Ultra 2000 series of notebooks is shipping. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Armada 6500 Series has a profile of just 1.4 inches and weighs under 6 pounds. Powered by the 300-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, the line has a 14.1-inch active-matrix TFT screen, 64 MB of SDRAM memory, 512 KB of L2 cache, a 6.4-GB hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive, integrated communications and enhanced AGP graphics. It lists for $5,800.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary also has introduced the Armada 3500 Series, the company's thinnest (1.3 inches) and lightest (4.4 pounds) notebook to date. For added strength and durability, the line incorporates a magnesium alloy enclosure around the 13.3-inch or 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT display. Four Armada 3500 models are available. Two use a 266-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, while the other pair runs off a 300-MHz mobile Pentium II chip. Prices start at $3,300 for a model with Windows 95 preinstalled.
In a simultaneous release, the local COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. unit added two models to its all-in-one, value-priced Armada 1700 Series. One features a 300-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, a 14.1-inch active-matrix TFT screen and a 5-GB hard drive. The other is built around a 233-MHz mobile Pentium II chip and comes with a 12.1-inch monochrome display and a 3.2-GB hard drive.
A collaborative effort between HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. and information-processing system developer TOHO BUSINESS MANAGEMENT CENTER has yielded a pen- based tablet system. Using a special ballpoint pen with a built-in pressure sensor, information written on paper placed over an electronic tablet produces both a hard copy and an electronic record. The data later can be transferred to a PC. HP was responsible for the hardware, while Toho Business Management Center developed the software.
The pioneer in the field of electronic books, NUVOMEDIA, INC., has teamed with SHARP CORP. to develop lighter appliances compatible with its Rocket eBook electronic reader that also deliver a sharper image. The Palo Alto, California start-up's Rocket eBook basically allows people to take a small library with them wherever they go. The current product, which was to be launched in the United States in early November, is a 22-ounce handheld device that can hold at least 4,000 pages the equivalent of about 10 novels of text and graphics at a time. Being digital, books read on the Rocket eBook can be browsed, searched, annotated, highlighted, bookmarked, linked and referenced. NuvoMedia's original Rocket eBook incorporates Sharp's new, more readable LCD technology.
In back-to-back moves, EMC CORP.'s subsidiary launched remote monitoring of its enterprise-class storage subsystem and backup equipment (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 14) and announced two more sales and service bases. The first, located in Takamatsu, Kagawa prefecture (Shikoku island), already is open. An office in Hiroshima will be in business in the spring of 1999. Like EMC's other local offices, the new facilities promise to respond to clients' service problems within an hour.
First-year sales of 200 units are being projected for a new line of network file servers from AUSPEX SYSTEMS, INC. Two versions of the Auspex NetServer NS 8000 are available. The enterprise-class NS 8000/850 features increased storage density using the Santa Clara, California company's network-attached storage subsystem. It can scale from as little as 100 GB of storage up to 3.6 terabytes on a single system. Auspex also is touting the product's increased system performance, support for Gigabit Ethernet and Year 2000 compliance. The entry-level Auspex NetServer NS 8000/350, designed for workgroup and departmental environments, offers the same functional advancements as the NS 8000/850 but scales to 760 GB of storage.
In an expansion of its line of automated tape backup solutions, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced the $20,900 HP SureStore DLT Autoloader 718 for enterprise local area networks using Windows NT, Windows 95, NetWare or Unix system servers with 18 GB to 70 GB of overall networked data capacity. Working with a DLT (digital linear tape) 7000 drive, the new product can transfer 5 MB of data a second in native mode and 10 MB per second compressed. This speed, it is claimed, makes the HP SureStore DLT Autoloader 718 the fastest autoloader currently available. It provides a total capacity of 280 GB (native) and 560 GB (compressed). HP Japan figures that it can sell 900 autoloader 718s in their first year on the market.
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. continues to cram more capacity into its small-form-factor Travelstar hard disk drives for notebook computers. Its latest record-breaking drive, the Travelstar 14GS, holds 14.1 GB of data about four times more than today's typical notebook hard drive contains in a drive not much thicker than a cassette tape at 17 millimeters high. Announced at the same time was the Travelstar 6GN, the world's highest-capacity (6.4 GB) 9.5-mm hard drive for ultraportable computers, and the Travelstar 10GT, a 10-GB drive for the mainstream notebook market that measures just 12.5 mm thick. All three drives also represent the first implementation of IBM's Drive Fitness Test, which lets users quickly and easily check out the health of their drives. IBM JAPAN LTD., which will manufacture the new products for certain of its ThinkPad notebooks as well as for other computer vendors, is sampling the Travelstar 14GS at $1,300, the Travelstar 6GN at $660 and the Travelstar 10GT at $990.
The Optra Color 1200 page printer, which LEXMARK INTERNATIONAL, INC. developed with CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 4), will debut in Japan at the end of December. The $7,400 network system outputs up to 12 pages per minute, or about twice as much as most color printers on the market, with a resolution of 600 X 600 dots per inch. At the same time, Lexmark's subsidiary will start shipping the Optra Color 45. This $1,400 machine can print 4 ppm from the network on a wide variety of media.
The first color laser printers are shipping from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP Color LaserJet 4500 Series delivers 4 ppm in full color and 16 ppm in black and white with a resolution of 600 dpi. Like other printer manufacturers, HP Japan is hyping its machines' ease of use, exceptional print quality and ability to print on various media. The HP Color Laser Jet 4500 lists for $4,100, while the network version goes for $4,800.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is marketing the Asia-only HP DesignJet 488CA large-format color printer. This entry-level, fully localized solution is intended primarily for graphics professionals. It includes a driver-like software raster image processor for PostScript 3 compatibility under both the Macintosh and the Windows operating systems. The A1-size version of the HP DesignJet 488CA is priced at $4,500, while a model that can make poster-size prints (36 inches wide or A0) costs $5,800.
Print shops now have an alternative source of large-format color printers: EASTMAN KODAK CO. KODAK PROFESSIONAL Large Format 2042 and 2060 Printers support virtually all types of media up to 42 inches or 60 inches wide, respectively, with a resolution of 300 X 300 dpi. Moreover, they utilize both extended gamut pigmented inks for outdoor/indoor applications or new, high-quality dye inks for indoor materials. Designed to work with both Macintosh and Windows (95 and NT) machines, the printers use POSTERJET RIP software from DIGICOLOR CORP. Kodak's subsidiary priced the 2042 at $31,400 and the 2060 at $35,500.
A 3D laser scanning system developed by REAL 3D, INC. is available through Tokyo distributor GENETEC CORP. The Orlando, Florida company's RealScan 3D enables users to capture complex texture and geometric data of any real world object. The resulting model then can be edited and manipulated using RealScan 3D's Tribeca model-editing software. The digital models are exported in several popular industry- standard formats. The two versions of RealScan 3D, which works with a Windows NT OpenGL-class workstation, are priced around $32,000 and $41,300, respectively.
Shipments were scheduled to begin in late November of what SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. says is the highest-resolution flat panel monitor commercially available. The 17.3- inch (diagonal) monitor displays 16.7 million colors in a 1,600-pixel X 1,024-pixel format. The Silicon Graphics 1600SW also features a second-generation OpenLDI digital interface. SGI's subsidiary is marketing the $3,200 monitor for use with its O2 workstations.
LINKSYS's subsidiary is marketing the PC Combination, a localized version of the Irvine, California company's ProConnect CPU Switch. The $245 product lets the buyer control two or more PCs from a single keyboard, monitor and mouse. They can be accessed with the press of a key. Alternately, the switch's cycling feature can be used to switch automatically among the machines at preset time intervals.
Under an OEM deal, MITSUMI ELECTRIC CO., LTD. is manufacturing the CEM-D10 for sale by INTEL CORP. The Tokyo-headquartered maker of computer peripheral equipment currently is turning out monthly 50,000 of the card-edge connectors for AGP buses, but in the near term, it will boost volume to 200,000 CEM-D10s a month.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The group that runs the Asia Trade Center in Osaka has turned to Dallas- headquartered CROW HOLDINGS INTERNATIONAL (formerly Trammell Crow International) for assistance in managing and running its Town Outlet mall project. Scheduled to open in the spring of 1999 in ATC's underutilized building, the mall is expected to attract about 50 name retailers of clothing, sporting goods, outdoor gear and similar products. CHI's Tokyo-based Management Consulting unit will provide on- the-ground expertise to ATC. Management Consulting also could do double duty by helping ATC line up retailers since it represents American retailers interested in moving into the Japanese market. The Asia Trade Center was built in 1994 to promote imports.
Ground officially has been broken in Osaka for UNIVERSAL STUDIOS, INC.'s third theme park. Universal Studios Japan, set to open in the spring of 2001, is being built on 140 acres along the city's waterfront. It will be the focal point of a massive Osaka redevelopment project. The theme park will combine such popular rides and shows as "Jurassic Park - Ride," "Back to the Future - The Ride," "JAWS" and the "The E.T. Adventure" with new attractions designed specifically for Japan. Universal Studios Japan will be operated by USJ CO., LTD. The 39 shareholders of that company span Universal Studios, the city of Osaka and a cross section of corporate Japan, including HITACHI ZOSEN CORP., SUMITOMO CORP. and SUMITOMO METAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. The two existing Universal Studios theme parks are in California and Florida.
Just weeks after announcing plans for its third multiplex movie theater in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 15), AMC ENTERTAINMENT INC. revealed that it would build multiplexes at two additional locations. The AMC Maihama 16 Theater will be at Tokyo Disneyland in Chiba prefecture. Scheduled to open by the spring of 2000, it will include 16 auditoriums with a total of 3,500 stadium- style seats. The AMC Holiday Inn 18 Theater will be built next to the Holiday Inn hotel in Toyohashi, Aichi prefecture. Set to open in mid-summer 1999, it will offer 3,284 moviegoers the choice of 18 screens. AMC's first multiscreen theater in Japan, the AMC Canal City 13 in Fukuoka, opened in 1996. Its second location, the 2,664-seat AMC Nakama 16 in Nakama, Fukuoka prefecture, had a late November opening date.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
ENERGY AUTOMATION SYSTEMS, INC., a Hendersonville, Tennessee manufacturer of energy-conservation equipment, has tapped a Tokyo start-up to help it move into the Japanese market. The master distribution deal with JAPAN SAVING ENERGY PLANNING CO., LTD. covers such products as EASI's phase liner power factor correction for motors, which cuts wasted energy without any reduction in horsepower or loss of revolutions per minute by aligning the phase angle of the current and the voltage at the motor. The Japanese company also will handle the FLC fluorescent light controller. This product is installed at the lighting circuit breaker, controls all the lights on that breaker and reduces the amount of power consumed by fluorescent and most other types of lighting fixtures. In addition, Japan Saving Energy will market EASI's final condenser. It precools and subcools the refrigerant in air-cooled air conditioning and refrigeration equipment before it enters the evaporator, thereby reducing the amount of heat that the condenser must dissipate. Government facilities, large commercial buildings and hotels will be the primary marketing targets for EASI's products.
Expanding its line of PolySwitch resettable fuses, RAYCHEM CORP.'s subsidiary introduced eight products for protecting USB circuits in computers and peripherals from the hazards of short circuits and faults that can occur in plug-and-play environments. Several members of the new PolySwitch RUSB family, which is priced between 12 cents and 25 cents a part, trip faster than their predecessors and are lower in resistance. They also are half the height of previous RUSB products, making them fit more easily into space-con-strained designs.
AMP CORP.'s local operation is marketing several new connector products designed to meet the demanding space requirements of notebook and smaller portable PCs. One of the additions is a connector for battery packs that has a pitch of just 2.5 mm. It carries over the line contact concept of 3.0-mm-pitch connectors while providing ample mating misalignment tolerance. AMP also is shipping a 132-pin mounting docking connector with a receptacle height of just 5.85 mm. It complements the company's existing 9.2-mm-height and 8.0-mm-height receptacles.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The huge volume of low-yielding personal financial assets in Japan and banks' freedom come December 1 to sell investment trusts Japanese-style mutual funds over the counter are behind the first investment trust management alliance between an American financial services powerhouse and a big Japanese commercial bank. J.P. MORGAN INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, INC., the investment management unit of bank holding company J.P. MORGAN & CO., INC., and DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD. have agreed in principle to form an equally owned Tokyo-based company to develop and distribute cobranded investment trust products to individual investors and to provide them with investment advice. The new, unnamed company, which hopes to be in business early in 1999, brings together J.P. Morgan Investment Management's global asset management expertise and DKB's extensive distribution network and customer base. The New York City financial firm manages more than $300 billion in assets, primarily for institutional clients, including $11.4 billion for corporate Japan. DKB, which ranks number three among Japan's nine nationwide commercial banks in terms of deposits and has some 12 million individual customers, will market the joint venture's investment trust products through its head office as well as 373 branch offices and telephone banking centers across the country. Its DAI-ICHI KANGYO ASAHI ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. subsidiary, which manages roughly $16.7 billion in assets, will be the actual business entity that forms the joint venture with J.P. Morgan Investment Management.
With insurance companies also free December 1 to directly sell investment trusts, the asset management subsidiary of NIPPON LIFE INSURANCE CO., the world's largest life insurer, has teamed with PUTNAM INVESTMENTS INC., the number-five U.S. mutual fund manager, to develop, manage and market investment trusts. NISSAY ASSET MANAGEMENT CORP. and Putnam will jointly design the products, initially expected to consist of yen-denominated foreign securities investment trusts. Nippon Life will market these funds along with others developed exclusively by Nissay Asset Management or by other mutual fund managers. Putnam will manage the money in the codeveloped products. Sometime in 1999, probably April, the Boston company will become a minority investor in Nissay Asset Management when that firm issues new stock to boost its capital. Putnam and Nippon Life are no strangers. In June 1997, they announced a deal under which the American firm would manage some of the corporate pension funds entrusted to Nippon Life and otherwise help it to become a more effective asset manager.
STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISORS has established a jointly licensed, wholly owned investment trust management and investment advisory company in Tokyo to serve both institutional and individual clients. The investment management arm of STATE STREET CORP., which is perhaps best known for the custodial services it provides financial institutions, already is active in Japan's pension fund market through the local subsidiary of STATE STREET BANK & TRUST CO. SSgA's new operation will enable it to deliver expanded asset management services.
A third Boston company also hopes to capitalize on the promise of Japan's investment trust market. MFS INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT INC., which bills itself as the inventor of the mutual fund and manages more than $92 billion in assets for both individual and institutional mutual fund and annuity investors worldwide, formed a Tokyo subsidiary to sell investment trusts and offer investment advice. The company expects to use a variety of distribution channels to market its products, including brokerage houses, banks and insurers. TOKAI BANK, LTD., one of Japan's nationwide commercial banks, already has indicated that it will work with MFS Investment Management to develop products for its customers.
Sometime in the first quarter of 1999, the Chase Asset Management division of CHASE MANHATTAN CORP. will launch 10 investment trusts in Japan designed for retail customers. These products will be distributed through brokers, banks and insurers. The company could use the branches of its local Chase Trust Bank to sell the funds, but this operation primarily serves corporate clients. It manages $3 billion in pension assets for them.
With competition growing to handle individual investors' savings, AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL GROUP, INC. and MITSUBISHI TRUST & BANKING CORP. decided to increase the capital of their joint asset-management company to better position it to win new business. The two formed AIMIC INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT LTD. in February 1997 to sell investment trusts as well as to manage corporate pension funds. At the time, insurance giant AIG put up 70 percent of the company's equity. When AIMIC Investment's capital is raised, Mitsubishi Trust directly and indirectly will up its stake to 50 percent.
Mergers and acquisitions adviser BROADVIEW INTERNATIONAL, LLC opened an office in Tokyo. The New York City investment bank, which specializes in the information technology, communications and media industries, sees greater willingness among companies in Japan to employ M&As as a strategy for growth, if not survival. Broadview's new on-site operation will be backstopped by an advisory board that includes among its members a number of Japanese business leaders and academicians.
Add securities and foreign exchange trading to SOFTBANK CORP.'s increasingly diverse businesses. Its local joint venture with on-line broker E*TRADE GROUP, INC. of Palo Alto, California (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 20) is acquiring OSAWA SECURITIES CO., LTD., a money-losing small Tokyo brokerage house that has offices in the capital and in neighboring Saitama prefecture. With the purchase comes Osawa Securities' brokerage license and membership on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The broker's existing clients will continue to be served, but E*TRADE JAPAN K.K. plans mainly to use the acquisition to start low-cost on-line trading of stocks, particularly over-the-counter issues but also shares listed on the TSE. The soon-to-be-renamed Osawa Securities also will buy and sell bonds and offer investment trusts. Softbank owns 58 percent of ETrade Japan as well as 27.2 percent of ETrade itself (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 6).
SONNET FINANCIAL, INC. is SOFTBANK CORP.'s means for getting into the foreign exchange business. The two have formed FOREXBANK CORP., an Internet-based foreign exchange services company that will serve corporate and individual customers in Japan. San Mateo, California-headquartered Sonnet Financial put up 40 percent of the capital for the joint venture, which will use its American partner's FXWeb Internet platform for trading. FXWeb gives clients wholesale or "interbank" foreign exchange rates on spot and forward contracts for a low fixed fee per transaction. Sonnet Financial's zero-spread pricing guarantee sets its apart from banks and other foreign exchange traders, which make money from the difference between buy and sell quotes.
Half of the risks associated with disability policies that Portland, Maine's UNUM CORP. sells through CHIYODA MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. agents (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 14) are being reinsured by the big life insurer. In turn, the two companies equally split the premium income. Never before in Japan has a life insurer reinsured nonlife coverage.
For the second time, CITIBANK N.A. has arranged a syndicated line of credit for a major Japanese corporation. SUMITOMO CORP. will have access to $600 million in short-term financing should the big trading company have trouble raising money from its traditional Japanese bankers. Seven mainly European banks are members of the loan syndicate along with Citibank. Earlier this year, seven American and European banks joined Citibank in setting up a revolving credit facility for NEC CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 14).
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The Tokyo District Court has given CARGILL INC.'s subsidiary the go-ahead to help restructure TOSHOKU LTD., a midsized trader of agricultural commodities that declared bankruptcy in December 1997. According to current planning, the world's largest grain trader will make Toshoku a wholly owned subsidiary within 18 months. That move will give Cargill what it believes it needs to finally succeed in Japan: a strong, on-the-ground distribution network. The Minneapolis-based company has the infrastructure in place to move food and feed from production centers through Japan's ports, but it has been stymied in getting products from there into wholesale or retail channels. Coming to Toshoku's rescue makes Cargill the first foreign company to help a Japanese business emerge from bankruptcy under the country's Corporate Rehabilitation Law.
Twenty-eight STARBUCKS COFFEE CO. locations now are in operation in Japan. The newest Starbucks is at the Hankyu Entertainment Park in Osaka. The Seattle company opened its first local coffee shop in August 1996.
Tonalin CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) a dietary supplement derived from sunflower oil that manufacturer PHARMANUTRIENTS INC. of Lake Bluff, Illinois says might play a role in reducing body fat and increasing muscle tone is being distributed exclusively by the subsidiary of MAYPRO INDUSTRIES, INC. Earlier this year, this Purchase, New York wholesaler of dietary supplements successfully test-marketed about 33 tons of Tonalin to more than 10 Japanese companies. It is projecting Tonalin sales in 1999 at 110 tons.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The third Office Depot office supply store in Japan will open soon in Tokyo's Ginza, an area better known for upscale retailers than discounters. Given the high property prices, the outlet is just three-fifths the size of the 31,300-square-foot Office Depot in the capital's Shingawa ward that has been in business for the last year. These two stores as well as the original Office Depot location in Hiroshima are managed by OFFICE DEPOT INC.'s subsidiary, which is a joint venture between the Delray, Florida company and Hiroshima-headquartered consumer electronics retailer DEODEO CORP.
With the success of four trial Babies "R" Us shops inside Toys "R" Us stores, TOYS "R" US INC.'s subsidiary has decided to extend this retailing concept nationwide. Its newest Toys "R" Us store, located in Nagoya, shares its 34,500-square-foot space with a Babies "R" Us shop that sells clothing, diapers, furniture, strollers and other products for children up to age 3. The Nagoya store is Toys "R" Us's 71st in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
TITANIUM METALS CORP., one of the world's largest integrated producers of titanium metal products, has formed strategic alliances with two Japanese companies in the same business. The most far-reaching of the deals involves TOHO TITANIUM CO., LTD. It is designed in general to expand the market for titanium products and in particular to promote the development of lower-cost production techniques that will enable titanium to compete better with less-expensive materials. Specifics of the TIMET-Toho Titanium arrangement include the formation of a hearth-melting joint venture in Japan at some unspecified time; a long-term agreement under which the Kanagawa prefecture-headquartered partner, a leading titanium sponge and ingot supplier, will become a key outsider provider of high-purity, super-purity and premium- grade titanium sponge to TIMET; and mutual technology and business development support. Moreover, Denver-based TIMET will acquire up to 10 percent of the outstanding shares of Toho Titanium. Initially, it will purchase a 5 percent stake by buying stock now owned by NIPPON MINING & METALS CO., LTD. and MITSUI & CO., LTD. Together, they have a 54.8 percent interest in Toho Titanium.
Equally important, TITANIUM METALS CORP. has teamed with NIPPON STEEL CORP. to build the market for architectural titanium products by developing lower-cost, higher-quality products. TIMET brings to this job its electron-beam melting technology, while NSC, which is a major producer of titanium products as well as the world's biggest steelmaker, will contribute its finishing capabilities. As a first step, Nippon Steel will provide conversion services for its new partner, making high-quality, finished architectural cladding products from materials supplied by TIMET. These products will be marketed through the American company's worldwide distribution network under the TIMET name.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Engraving systems manufacturer XENETECH USA, INC. has made COMMAX LTD. its exclusive distributor for Japan and elsewhere in Asia. Initially, the Shizuoka prefecture maker of jewelry grinders will market Xenetech's recently introduced line of 25-watt, 50-watt and 100-watt laser engraving systems. Commax will localize the systems' industry-standard Xenetech Graphic Workstation software, which provides such features as multiple plate, automatic layout, real-time graphics, automatic serial numbering, engrave by color and automatic panel/dial layout. In the future, Commax, which is projecting annual sales of $1.7 million, also will distribute the Baton Rouge, Louisiana company's rotary engraving machines.
The ROC line of heavy-duty external rotary gear pumps from ROPER PUMP CO. is now available in Japan. Designed for chemical process applications, the Commerce, Georgia manufacturer's products are corrosion- and oxidation-resistant because of their stainless steel internals and housings. Moreover, unlike other stainless steel gear pumps, ROC pumps incorporate all-metallic rotating components, including both gears. Distributor TOKO SANGYO CORP. of Tokyo has priced the ROC line between $1,500 and $6,000. It expects to sell 200 units in the first year of marketing.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Shifting its marketing strategy to become a bigger player in the local market for digital cameras, EASTMAN KODAK CO. will develop models specifically for Japan rather than selling there the same digital cameras sold elsewhere around the world. Kodak digital cameras now are designed at corporate headquarters in Rochester, New York with input from the company's Yokohama research center. That facility will take on more of the design responsibility for mainstream models, although high-end products will continue to come out of Rochester.
POLAROID CORP. already has segmented the market for its instant cameras, introducing through its subsidiary the Japan-only Polaroid 637AF model targeted at young adults. It costs around $165.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Two market newcomers have lined up GUNZE SANGYO, INC. to handle their products. From January 1999, it will distribute 10 different models of ACUMEN, INC.'s heart-rate monitors for fitness enthusiasts, or what the Sterling, Virginia company calls Performance Accelerators. The line of sports watches, pedometers and other consumer-oriented heart-rate monitors is priced between $115 and $290. The diversifying Tokyo-based textile trader also is distributing four types of Atlas-brand cohesive bandages developed by KIMBERLY-CLARK CORP. and distributed in the United States by OZYMANDIUS TRADE GROUP, INC. of Nashville, Tennessee. These latex-free, disposable, self-adhering wrap products, which cost between $3.30 and $6.60, hold dressings, splints or ice packs in place. Alternately, they provide uniform compression during exercise or keep skin clean and dry while allowing air to circulate. Gunze Sangyo is projecting combined sales of the two companies' products at $1.7 million in the first year but at $8.3 million in three years.
Mountain View, California-based ARCTURUS ENGINEERING, INC. which shares credit for turning the laser capture microdissection procedure into a commercial laboratory instrument for the extraction of pure subsets of cells from tissue specimens and cytological smears has given an OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. marketing affiliate the right to distribute its LM-100 LCM System. Like the current-generation PixCell II LCM System, the LM-100 combines a standard laboratory microscope with a low-energy laser and a transfer film to provide a convenient, one-step, aim-and-shoot method of harvesting cells of interest. The main difference between the two systems is that the LM-100 has a slightly lower resolution. LCM technology can be applied to any disease process that is accessible through tissue sampling, such as premalignant cancer lesions, multiple sclerosis, arteriosclerosis and Alzheimer's disease.
The slower-than-expected penetration of flat panel display technology into the desktop computer market and its impact on FPD production equipment orders is one of the reasons APPLIED KOMATSU TECHNOLOGY INC. gave for restructuring its operations. The equally owned partnership between APPLIED MATERIALS, INC. and KOMATSU LTD. will focus in the future on chemical vapor deposition equipment for FPD production, ending development and sales of physical vapor deposition and etch equipment for making FPDs. However, Kobe-based AKT will continue to support and service its installed base of PVD and etch equipment. The company also will lay off some employees and consolidate certain facilities to cope with the market downturn.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Along with many other players in the semiconductor industry, the three-year slowdown in sales is forcing LSI LOGIC CORP. to retrench to lower costs. Its restructuring plan includes the closure of an 11-year-old wafer fabrication facility in Tsukuba, Ibaraki prefecture. The shutdown of that front end will account for most of the 30 percent or so reduction in wafer-fabrication capacity that the Milpitas, California company plans to make. The loss of the plant's roughly 900 jobs also will represent the majority of the 1,200 people that the system-on-a chip manufacturer will trim from its payroll to attain a 17 percent work force reduction. Unaffected by LSI's restructuring moves is its second Tsukuba wafer fab, which opened in 1993.
Despite the turmoil in the semiconductor market or perhaps because of it U.S. firms continue to score design wins in Japan. For instance, CYRIX CORP.'s MMX- enhanced MediaGX processor will power a Windows-based terminal that TAKAOKA ELECTRIC MANUFACTURING CO., LTD. will release before yearend. The Tokyo company will sell the system, Japan's first Windows-based terminal, to OEM customers worldwide as well as under the Takaoka WiNT name. Linked with a server via Windows NT Server 4.0 software, the terminal functions like a PC. Cyrix's MediaGX processor helped to pioneer the sub-$1,000 PC market in 1997.
Similarly, VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. selected the AViA set-top decoder solution from C-CUBE MICROSYSTEMS INC. as the core digital video engine for receivers used by subscribers to SKYPERFECTV CORP.'s satellite-broadcast digital television programming. The set-top graphics performance of the Milpitas, California company's chipset supports multiple picture-in-graphics windows, thereby helping users to select from among SKYPerfecTV's 170 channels of programming by displaying 16 promotional channels or 20 programs from a selected area of interest. C-Cube also claims that its technology delivers one of the industry's most advanced electronic program guides.
DUET TECHNOLOGIES INC. of San Jose, California one of a new breed of companies that provide semiconductor IP (intellectual property) infrastructure components, including integrated circuit physical libraries, and related services now has a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo. The primary job of that organization is supporting current and future customers with comprehensive chip design services and a growing line of semiconductor IP products. It also will work to develop new markets. Duet's customers currently include FUJITSU, LTD., HITACHI, LTD., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., NEC CORP., OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP.
A second Japanese company has received a license in the form of intellectual property to IREADY CORP.'s Internet Tuner technology. SEIKO INSTRUMENTS, INC. will integrate the Santa Clara, California company's unique "Internet-on-a-chip" design with its low-power, high-function "chip-on-film" technology to produce Internet-enabled LCD modules. These modules allow Web browsing, e-mail and networking to be added easily and inexpensively to consumer devices. SII initially will introduce two LCD module lines. The Network-Ready LCD modules are designed for devices like cellular phones that require a simple network connection, while the Internet-Ready LCD modules are targeted at such devices as screen phones that require full Internet capabilities. In June 1997, iReady licensed its Internet Tuner technology to TOSHIBA CORP. for development as an ASIC core.
A fifth company now is distributing INTEL CORP.'s products to midsized and smaller manufacturers, supplementing direct sales by the processor giant to PC makers. Semiconductor trader INNOTECH CORP. is handling embedded Pentium II processors and i960 microcontrollers for use in consumer electronics products and industrial devices.
ZILOG, INC.'s subsidiary is marketing what it believes is the lowest-priced 8-bit OTP (one-time programmable) microcontroller ever put on the market. Selling for 66 cents each in quantities of 10,000 units, the Z8E000 is the latest member of the Campbell, California manufacturer's Z8Plus family of microcontrollers. Typical applications for the product are sensors, battery chargers, switches and motor control.
In a worldwide release, LATTICE SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. introduced the ispLSI 5000V SuperWIDE family of 3.3-volt in-system programmable logic devices. The SuperWIDE architecture provides support for the widest logic functions, including 64-bit bus systems. The line's initial three members have logic densities ranging from 256 macrocells to 512 macrocells. The Hillsboro, Oregon manufacturer's subsidiary priced the midrange part with 384 macrocells in a ball grid array package at close to $92 each in 1,000-unit quantities.
Two of the nine devices making up XILINX, INC.'s Virtex series of field-programmable gate arrays are sampling in Japan. The complete line ranges from 50,000 system gates (1,728 logic cells) to 1 million system gates (27,648 logic cells) operating at clock speeds up to 160 MHz. A 300,000-system-gate device costs $55 per unit in quantities of 100,000, while the densest Virtex part lists for $385 in volume.
Fellow FPGA supplier ACTEL CORP. signed TOMEN ELECTRONICS CORP. to distribute locally the 0.25-micron ProASIC family of nonvolatile reprogrammable logic products. The Sunnyvale, California firm said that it chose Tomen Electronics because that firm has experience distributing ProASIC products for developer GATEFIELD CORP. in Japan. In August, Fremont, California-based GateField gave Actel the right to sell the new 0.25-micron ProASIC line. The Actel devices are made by SIEMENS AG. At the same time, GateField licensed ROHM CO., LTD. to manufacture a broader range of ProASIC devices (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 15).
TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC., which has made digital signal processors the driver of its semiconductor business, has announced that a new line of high-performance, energy-efficient DSP chips for cellular phones and other communications products will be available next spring in Japan. These parts will deliver more than twice the processing capability of today's DSPs. For example, the C5420 performs 200 million operations per second but consumes just 120 milliwatts of power. This device will cost $60. Similarly, TI's new C5402 DSP can handle 100 million operations per second while drawing only 58 milliwatts. It will list for around $5.50.
Companies with HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s Unix-based workstations and network servers that want to upgrade the internal memory of their machines now have a low-cost alternative to going back to HP Japan. ORIX LENTECH CORP. is marketing 128-MB and 256-MB memories supplied by DATARAM CORP., a Princeton, New Jersey manufacturer of large-capacity memory products for high-end computers. The 128-MB upgrade lists for $975, while the 256-MB memory goes for $2,000. These prices are said to undercut HP Japan's by 20 percent to 30 percent.
Samples are available of HEWLETT PACKARD CO.'s first isolated-collector silicon bipolar junction transistors for radio-frequency applications. The HBFP-0405 and the HBFP-0420 can be used as amplifiers in wireless communications systems and other products operating in the frequency band from 900 MHz to approximately 2.5 GHz and as oscillators in the range up to 9 GHz or 12 GHz. In bulk, the parts cost between 52 cents and 55 cents per unit.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. believes that it can sell 30 of the new HP Versatest V1300 Mixed Memory/Logic IC Test Systems a year. That projection is based in large part on its parent's success in simultaneously boosting throughput for flash and other nonvolatile memory device testing while reducing the cost per test. The HP V1300 can asynchronously test in parallel up to 16 high-density flash and other NVM devices with as many as 64 signal pins, or 32 lower-density NAND and NOR flash devices. Those volumes are said to be twice as high as other makers' test systems for wafer-sort applications. The U.S. list price for the standard configuration of the HP V1300 system is $840,000.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC., the Reston, Virginia-based registrar of American World Wide Web addresses, has entered the Japanese market for domain name registration services. NSI and software developer ASCII CORP. have inked a two-year pact to jointly operate WorldNIC-JP, which will register for $80 a year or reserve for $119 WWW addresses with .com, .net, .org and .edu endings. In effect, ASCII will localize NSI's RegistrationPlus system as well as provide advertising, marketing and customer support services. No doubt prompting Network Solutions to move into the Japanese market is the fact that it soon will lose its monopoly on Web address registrations in the United States.
Even though NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. soon will merge with AMERICA ONLINE, INC., the Internet software pioneer continues to roll out new products and services in Japan. For example, it has debuted a Japanese version of its updated NetCenter Internet portal, which targets a full range of services to both corporate and individual users.
The battle for market share among Internet search services providers continues with the start of a new service by LYCOS, INC. The service offers an index to 15 million Japanese home pages. It also sports a natural-language search engine called FreeWord and provides a free e-mail service called FreeMail. The new service will exist in tandem with Waltham, Massachusetts-based Lycos' first localized Internet portal, which was developed in cooperation with SUMITOMO CORP. and INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. They are partners with Lycos in a joint venture (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 18).
To keep up with emerging Internet technologies, POINTCAST INC. has released a new, localized version of its free Internet news distribution software. PointCast Network 2.6J replaces the screen saver on PCs connected to the Internet with a user- customizable selection of the latest news and information available on the Net. The Sunnyvale, California firm is highlighting the broadcast network's ease of use as well as its efficiency. Rather than spending time searching the Internet, PointCast Network will search and gather information automatically based on users' preferences.
One of the leading providers of electronic software distribution infrastructure technologies, PREVIEW SYSTEMS, INC., has chosen SONY MARKETING (JAPAN) INC. as its exclusive local development partner. In a multimillion-dollar, multiyear deal, the two first will bring the Cupertino, California company's ESD system to Japan. Then, they will develop other solutions for electronically distributing digital goods. Sony Marketing is offering Preview's ZipLock ESD System 3.1 through its sales channels at prices from $49,600. It also plans to build a full-time team dedicated to creating new electronic business solutions based on ZipLock. The pact with Sony Marketing is a key step in Preview's plan to build a global ESD business.
Banking on its claim to be the world's number-one on-line music retailer, New York City's N2K INC. has been chosen by YAHOO! JAPAN CORP. as its exclusive partner in this hot market. Thanks to the implementation of an earlier agreement between N2K and SHINSEIDO INC., Japan's leading music chain store (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 19), music lovers can browse, sample and buy more than 470,000 titles listed in N2K's Music Boulevard on-line catalog.
To maintain its share of the Web browser market, pioneer NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. is distributing free copies of a localized version of the latest release of its Web software suite. Communicator 4.5 sports many ease-of-use improvements as well as support for new emerging Internet standards.
NETWORK COMPUTER, INC. wants to bring the Internet revolution to the world of handheld computing devices with its eNavigator suite of embedded software. That capability appealed to FUJITSU, LTD. It is the first hardware manufacturer to embed the Redwood Shores, California company's software in a consumer electronics device the InterTop palmtop computer, which uses an eNavigator-customized version of WIND RIVER SYSTEMS, INC.'s VxWorks operating system. NCI's platform delivers to InterTop such Internet-based applications and services as e-mail, Web browsing, personalized push information delivery and automatic software updates.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is mounting a drive aimed at obtaining more of the business of Internet service providers and large corporate networks. Web QoS, a hardware/software bundle priced from $16,500, gives ISPs and network managers new capabilities to ensure that their most important users get premium services. HP Japan's quality of service package also includes its own and third-party software that enables ISPs to provide additional value-added services as well as assistance with marketing, technical services and even financial risk-sharing.
Upping its competitive challenge in the Internet/intranet streaming video market, MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary has released a new version of its video-on-demand server software. NetShow Theater 3.0 comes complete with management, administration and content-development tools that allow ISPs or network managers to provide multimedia services on a flexible and scalable basis. The base price of the package is under $4,200.
Adding to the appeal of its core product line, LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s local operation has rolled out a version of NETOBJECTS, INC.'s Fusion Web site construction program tailored to work with the Notes/Domino family of groupware. Via a piece of software called DF Connector, Domino servers can import Web sites created by NetObjects Fusion 3.0 with full support for dynamic HTML, external HTML pages, layered objects and new, rich media types. Conversely, Web site developers now can incorporate the full range of Domino and Notes services into their sites via DF Connector. Lotus NetObjects Fusion R3 costs roughly $345.
A new package from INTERWORLD CORP. is the latest entry in the crowded market for electronic commerce solutions. The Japanese version of Commerce Exchange 2.01 is being distributed and supported by the New York City firm's recently formed, wholly owned Tokyo subsidiary and marketing partner JAPAN INFORMATION PROCESSING SERVICE CO., LTD. Commerce Exchange is aimed at high-end e-commerce applications based on its reliability features and Business Adapters for exchanging data with a wide range of other corporate computing data resources.
Targeting midsized to small firms looking for an affordable e-commerce package, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is offering HP Quick Merchant Server v3.0 for $31,400. The turnkey solution has many prebuilt modules, allowing users to build a Web store quickly while fully addressing security, back-end and support needs. Given the combination of capabilities and price, HP Japan is projecting sales of 1,000 copies of HP Quick Merchant Server v3.0 in the first year of availability.
Although it can be used to secure any Internet/intranet activity, CYBERGUARD CORP. is touting its TradeVPI software as an e-commerce security solution. TradeVPI's integrated family of modules and services uses public key/certificate management technology to secure Web browsers, Web servers and access to Internet-based resources. The Ft. Lauderdale, Florida corporation has signed an exclusive distribution agreement with NIPPON SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD. to localize, sell and support its TradeVPI products. The pact will generate a minimum of $1 million for CyberGuard over three years. The company's FireWall security software is distributed by NISSHIN ELECTRIC CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 23).
MICROSOFT CORP. has turned to MITSUI BUSSAN DIGITAL CORP. to market its Windows family of operating systems in nonoffice automation equipment areas. Through a 20-member team, the MITSUI & CO., LTD. subsidiary will promote Windows CE to consumer electronics makers and Windows NT to makers of vending machines and other industrial equipment.
Maintaining a steady stream of new hardware and software launches, APPLE COMPUTER INC. has released the localized version of its latest Mac operating system. Listing for about $115, Mac OS 8.5 boasts much faster performance on PowerPC-based machines as well as greatly enhanced Internet search features. The new Sherlock search utility has gained notice because it simultaneously uses several search engines without forcing a user to start up a Web browser. Sherlock also uses preindexed sites to speed information retrieval.
At the forefront of what observers predict will be a major trend, operating system software for mobile communications devices from GEOWORKS CORP. has allowed NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. to develop a personal digital cellular phone that incorporates Internet functions. Dialo takes advantage of the new Personal Digital Cellular network to offer not only digital telephone service but e-mail, Web browsing, personal information management and remote PC-link functions as well. At the end of 1996, NTT DoCoMo, as it is known in Japan, licensed the Alameda, California firm's mobile communications OS to power its GENIO PCV Pocket Communicator, a PHS (personal handyphone system) phone, making it no surprise that it chose GeoWork's technology for its new Dialo smart phone.
ORACLE CORP.'s local arm tied up with HITACHI, LTD. to open a systems engineering integration and services center. The Hitachi*Oracle Solution Center, which is located within the Japanese company, will focus on developing and implementing software packages for corporate customers using Hitachi's version of the Unix operating system.
Promoting the rebellion against the rising hardware and support costs associated with constant upgrades of the Windows operating system, IBM JAPAN LTD. has begun a service aimed at helping firms maintain the useful lives of their Windows 95 machines. For a fee, IBM Japan's Downgrade Service will adapt applications that run under Windows 98 to work with the earlier version of the operating system.
The Java programming language continues to show signs of becoming a mature business product. LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP., for example, has released a completely new version of its 100%-Pure Java eSuite DevPack applications development environment and its eSuite WorkPlace PC desktop manager. eSuite DevPack Release 1.5 offers enhanced programmability, performance and tool integration as well as tighter integration with Lotus Notes and Domino. The local Lotus operation expects to sell 2,000 copies of eSuite DevPack at about $2,100 each.
In another example of Java's growing importance, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary has put out a new version of JDeveloper Suite. Release 1.1 of the visual Java development environment can build, debug and deploy component-based data base applications for the Internet. Centered around the Redwood Shores, California firm's new Oracle Application Server 4.0 (formerly Web Application Server), it incorporates such standards as CORBA (common object request broker architecture) 2.0, Internet Inter-ORB (object request broker) Protocol and Enterprise JavaBeans.
Java also is making an impact at the other end of the computing scale: the embedded consumer device market. ObjectStore PSE Pro from Burlington, Massachusetts-based OBJECT DESIGN, INC.'s subsidiary is the first 100%-Pure Java data base management system that works with SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s PersonalJava application environment for small consumer devices, such as home entertainment system remote controllers. The Java tool is available through Object Design's Web site at $250 for a developer license and $95 for an end-user license.
Strengthening a relationship forged in 1995, INPRISE INC. and HITACHI, LTD. have signed a 10-year licensing and cooperation pact on CORBA technology. Hitachi has used the Scotts Valley, California firm's VisiBroker CORBA-compliant object request broker for the last three years in its middleware products, such as TPBroker and Network ObjectPlaza. The new agreement extends the VisiBroker license and gives Hitachi access to Inprise's Java ORB development technology.
With its subsidiary through the shakedown phase (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 19), CITRIX SYSTEMS, INC. has begun selling localized versions of its middleware products. First to be brought out in Japanese is the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida firm's MetaFrame for Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition.
NOVELL, INC. continues to regain momentum in the network operating system market as MICROSOFT CORP. experiences further delays in its competing products. Novell is touting the latest version of its NOS, NetWare 5, as offering many features only promised by Microsoft as well as its availability now rather than at some vague future date. Novell also has enticed corporate customers to start upgrading to NetWare 5 because it costs about the same as its predecessor despite new and improved features. Reflecting its first-out-of-the-gate status, Novell's subsidiary is projecting the installation of 5,000 copies of the fully localized NetWare 5 within six months.
A stumbling MICROSOFT CORP. is getting some help from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The computer supplier has opened a technical center at one of its Tokyo facilities to help customers set up groupware and messaging systems based on Microsoft's Exchange Server (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 23). The HP Messaging Supercenter also will train 100 systems engineers for Microsoft certification within the next three years. HP Japan expects the new center to generate revenues of $41.3 million in its first year of operation. By continuing to work closely with Microsoft's subsidiary, the company believes that it can build Exchange Server-related hardware, software and services into a $165.3-million business by FY 2001.
Staying neutral in the network operating system battle, NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC. released a Japanese-language version of its GroupShield antivirus utility for Lotus Notes/Domino shops. The subsidiary of the Santa Clara, California firm previously put on the market a version of the utility for Exchange Server (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 20). A single-user GroupShield for Lotus Notes & Domino license costs $30.
For corporations with Unix-based IS cores, TotalNET Advanced Server 5.3 from SYNTAX, INC. claims to handle any client-to-server connection right out of the box. With modules to support Windows, DOS, OS/2, NetWare and Macintosh clients, the Syntax NOS promises ease of installation since all its functions are server-based; therefore, nothing has to be added to client computers. Unix-based reliability and scalability and lower cost of ownership for network services are other selling points. Federal Way, Washington-based Syntax tapped NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. as its exclusive distributor. A five-client TAS license costs $1,500.
Network server software from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is aimed squarely at applications where near-perfect reliability is a top priority. Mission-Critical Server Suites for Windows NT machines promise to minimize downtime while also providing efficient network services. The price of the fine-tuned system has not yet been set.
Also fine-tuned but for a different customer base is network server software from MOBILEWARE CORP. As its name implies, the Plano, Texas-based company specializes in software for linking mobile users with corporate networks. After two years of work with Japanese strategic partners, including exclusive distributor ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP., MobileWare feels that its MobileWare XMP and Follow- Me technology are ready for prime time. To be available as a software development kit in the first quarter of 1999, MobileWare XMP lets users rapidly develop and deploy services for all types of remote clients, automating many tasks and ensuring correct and timely information transfers.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has released a flock of products as adjuncts or parts of its parent's OpenView network management suite. They include: two network management modules, the $43,800 Service Manager and Service Report, which lists for $21,600; three tools for Windows NT environments ManageX ($4,000-plus), PerfView/Measureware Agent ($7,400) and OmniBack II ($2,000 or so); and the Access Manager and the Node Sentry network security products, which cost $1,500 and $825, respectively.
Leveraging its strong position in Internet/intranet switches and routers, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary launched a family of Web-based network management tools under the CiscoWorks2000 name. Resource Manager Essentials, which goes for $8,900, and the $12,600 CWSI (Cisco Works for Switched Internetworks) Campus more tightly integrate Cisco products with more than 30 third-party enterprise management applications. RME provides network inventory, device availability, systems log and software deployment services, while CWSI Campus offers extensive network discovery and display, configuration, traffic monitoring and analysis, user tracking and performance capabilities.
As Windows NT continues to evolve, so do SEAGATE SOFTWARE, INC.'s support tools. Seagate Replication Exec v1.5 delivers flexible and intelligent data replication services for Windows NT environments. At prices starting around $2,500, the software protects and distributes information automatically by replicating it to any number of locations, with user-definable scheduling (real time or periodic) and network bandwidth utilization. The company's subsidiary is forecasting sales of 300 copies of Seagate Replication Exec v1.5 a month in the first year of marketing.
SECURITY DYNAMICS TECHNOLOGIES, INC.'s local operation continues to broaden its marketing channels, signing up NETSERVE INC. to distribute its full line of network and enterprise security software. Along with existing distributors of the Bedford, Massachusetts firm's products, Netserve will handle SecurID, ACE/Server, Kane Security Analyst and RSA SecurPC (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, pp. 21 and 23, and No. 349, October 1998, p. 25). At the same time, SDT's subsidiary released a new version of ACE/Server, which provides integrated firewall/security services. A 25-user license for Release 3.3 costs $5,900.
In pursuit of the same customer base, AXENT TECHNOLOGIES, INC. opened a wholly owned subsidiary. The Rockville, Maryland firm offers perimeter, Internet/extranet, infrastructure and administration security products. The new AXENT operation will work closely with NISSIN ELECTRIC CO., LTD., which has been distributing OmniGuard/Enterprise Security Manager, NetRecon and Intruder Alert for four years (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 20).
NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC.'s subsidiary has on the market the English-language version of its CyberCop Scanner 2.5 network security assessment tool. This $50 product allows network administrators to identify security weaknesses by launching simulated hacker attacks on their own networks. Solutions based on other Network Associates products then can be tailored to their needs.
Underscoring its commitment to Web-based computing, ORACLE CORP. has renamed and beefed up its Web Application Server, turning it into Oracle Application Server 4.0. OAS 4.0 is the heart of the Redwood Shores, California firm's business application platform, linking together heterogeneous clients, servers and legacy computing resources. With prices in Japan ranging from $6,600 to $20,700, OAS 4.0 includes not only tools to link clients and servers, handle diverse transactions and publish data bases on the Web but also ways to balance network loads and meet enterprise quality of service requirements.
PERVASIVE SOFTWARE INC. has melded the performance of a transactional data base engine with the robustness of a relational data base to create the Pervasive.SQL data base management solution. Intended as a back-end data base to a wide range of corporate end-user applications, Pervasive.SQL handles all access and file security functions without administrator intervention while providing fast data queries using natural language interaction. The Austin, Texas company's subsidiary has fully localized the data base system. Pricing starts at $1,500.
Geographic information system software from MAPINFO CORP. of Troy, New York lies at the core of a marketing software package available from an affiliate of MITSUI ENGINEERING & SHIPBUILDING CO., LTD. Map Marketing Do combines regional census data collected as part of the 1995 census with geographic data about the region to help sales teams develop strategies and track their progress. The MES company has priced the package at $2,900 per region represented. It also offers one year of technical support for about $575.
Another specialized data base product this one for pharmaceutical manufacturers now is available locally from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. PharmaWorks/RDM is a Windows NT document management system that handles the paperwork for new drug approval applications, drug trials and other critical drug company operations. Compaq's subsidiary has tagged the hardware/software package at $168,000, including a 50-user license.
"Bridging the gap between ERP and decision support" products is the aim of a new data warehouse package from SAS INSTITUTE INC. The Cary, North Carolina firm's Enterprise Resource Planning Decision Support initiative makes data generated by ERP and other systems available to decision-support programs via a specialized data warehouse an area of SAS expertise. Focusing on the leading AG/R3 ERP package from SAP AG, SAS's ACCESS to R3 makes the ERP data available to all sections of a company's operations, allowing them to incorporate that information in their decisionmaking processes. SAS's subsidiary priced the package $81,200.
To broaden its attack on Japan's ERP market, ORACLE CORP.'s local unit signed up ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. as another marketer of its offering in this segment, Oracle Applications 11.5. Localization of the latest version of the enterprise- operations management suite was completed recently (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 24). .....Working toward the same goal, ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary opened an Application Solution Center in Tokyo to support users of Oracle Applications 11.5. Not only will the facility assist partners with the design and integration of Applications-based systems, but it will provide maintenance and other after-sales support as well.
IBM JAPAN LTD. has introduced an improved version of the MQSeries work-flow management package. Version 3.0, which costs $47,500, handles a broader range of subtasks and work teams and integrates more tightly with third-party software, such as ERP packages and EDI (electronic data interchange) systems.
Rockville, Maryland-based MANUGISTICS, INC. continues to make headway in the market for supply chain management software with its namesake product. OJI PAPER CO., LTD. is the latest buyer of Manugistics 5.4J. It will use the package's flexible product system (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, February 1998, p. 23) to better predict demand for inputs and how this ripples through its network of suppliers. .....MANUGISTICS, INC.'s subsidiary also plans to release a SCM package designed to meet the specific needs of high-technology manufacturers. Purchased recently from a Canadian software firm, Supply/C will be introduced in February 1999 at $8,300 and up. The company also hopes to expand dramatically revenues from after-sale support in Japan of its SCM wares.
A software package that blends ERP and product data management features from PROCESS DYNAMICS, INC. is the foundation for a new PDM service offered by TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. TEL's Knowledge Center is powered by the Bedford, Massachusetts firm's Work Object System. Its product data management functions are divided into three areas: collecting and storing product information; making that data accessible to users; and processing users' requests for product specifics. TEL expects Knowledge Center, which starts at $40,600, to generate revenues of $8.3 million the first year and $41.3 million over three.
The Rockwell Electronic Commerce business unit of ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL CORP., the originator of automatic call distributor systems, has set up a Tokyo office to sell and support its call center products. Rockwell plans to build market share by forming partnerships with local companies to deliver complete call center solutions based on its Spectrum open-architec-ture ACD platform. Besides offering a full set of tools for information collection, resource allocation, reporting and management, and developing agent desktops, Rockwell hopes that Spectrum's ability to integrate easily with existing enterprise computing systems and customer relationship management software will help it win contracts. Spectrum costs $206,600. Wood Dale, Illinois-based Rockwell Electronic Commerce is projecting its Japan business at $24.8 million in three years.
Once a call center infrastructure is in place, firms in Japan have two new options for CRM solutions. CallFlow from MULTICALL COMPUTER TELEPHONY SYSTEMS of Santa Clara, California is designed and priced for small to midsized businesses. Running on top of Windows NT, the software incorporates voice processing, intelligent call routing, abandoned call callbacks and outbound calling campaign support on a single applications server in addition to call center management functions. MultiCall picked Tokyo's MI-TSUBISHI OFFICE MACHINERY CORP. as its sales representative. .....Boston-headquartered EXCHANGE APPLICATIONS, INC. and marketing partner TE-LEPHONY INC. of Tokyo are touting the virtues of their competing, localized offering, VALEX. The integrated suite of telephone marketing modules is focused more on outbound campaigns. It incorporates tools that allow companies to identify their most profitable customer segments, optimize those customer relationships, plan, build and execute highly targeted marketing drives, measure the results and plan future campaigns.
Understanding that the insurance market is built on customer relationships, ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP.'s subsidiary has introduced an integrated solution for life insurers' operations, INGENIUM. The package, which was developed by an EDS-owned company, combines a client-based approach to handling customer relations with enterprise management tools tailored for the special needs of insurers. INGENIUM is available in Japanese and other languages, making it ideal for firms with a multinational presence.
A new software package for the automobile insurance market has been developed by SAS INSTITUTE INC. and FINANCIAL ENGINEERING GROUP, INC. Marketed by Tokyo-based FEG for $14,900, IDViewer/IJ collects information about accidents and vehicle damage and then helps agents and customers develop repair and compensation estimates.
Already popular among U.S. credit-card issuers, HNC SOFTWARE INC.'s Falcon credit-card antifraud system is making inroads in Japan. DAIEI OMC INC. and DC CARD CO., LTD. will adopt Falcon in early 1999. Falcon uses artificial intelligence to detect unusual card use. It can automatically invalidate a card if the atypical pattern exceeds user-set parameters. ORIENT CORP. already is using Falcon (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 21), and San Diego, California HNC reportedly is negotiating with two more local card issuers.
Taking the first step to unify several experiments in electronic cash, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. and three partners NTT SOFTWARE CORP., INES CORP. and MEMOREX TELEX JAPAN LTD. have opened a joint settlement center capable of handling several different e-cash protocols. The center accepts Visa Cash transactions (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 15). It will accept future transactions using debit cards issued by nationwide commercial banks and e-cash sponsored by NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. The unified settlement facility means that merchants need only one type of terminal equipment to accept several different forms of e-cash a key to making electronic payment more widespread and convenient.
Testifying to the ever-growing power of PCs are two applications that put these machines to uses formerly reserved for bigger systems. COGNEX CORP.'s subsidiary has released a localized version of the Inspect machine-vision hardware/software package. Incorporating the Natick, Massachusetts firm's PatMax object location software, Inspect allows a PC to visually inspect many different electronic components for defects. The $3,700 package also can be used for sorting and assembly. .....EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s local unit has released the Kodak Digital Science cardiac viewer. The Windows-based package enables cardiologists and referring physicians to review images in the DICOM 3.0 format. These images, generated by specialized equipment in cardiac catheterization labs, previously were viewable only on the machines that produced them. Allowing the images to viewed outside the cardiac cath lab improves doctor/patient communication and can lower costs.
THINKSTREAM INC. of Greenwood Village, Colorado has selected CANON SALES CO., INC. as its exclusive distributor. Canon Sales is marketing a fully localized version of thinkstream's Visual X 1.2 compre-hensive image editing and management package for $105. The software can capture image data from scanners, digital cameras, faxes, the Internet, Windows applications and many graphic file formats and then edits them with more than 50 tools. The resulting images can be stored in any industry-standard file format, including Internet-friendly ones, or dropped directly into any Windows application that is OLE-compliant. Finally, the package can classify and manage image files, annotate them and share them over a network. Canon Sales has forecast sales of 5,000 copies of Visual X 1.2.
CORBIS DIGITAL STOCK, the royalty-free unit of Bill Gates' wholly owned Corbis visual content and service company, has made its collection of digital images available through Tokyo-based IMAGE LIFE CO., LTD. The 133 CD-ROM titles in the Master, Professional and Objects collections of royalty-free images are priced from $149 to $299 each and contain at least 100 JPEG images. In addition, Image Life's photography staff will contribute content to Corbis Digital Stock's local catalog.
A new bundle of "must-have" PC utilities from NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC. is now available in a fully localized format. Nuts & Bolts Deluxe Japanese edition costs $80. It includes VirusScan, WebScanX, an antivirus software for Java applets and Active X controls, the PGP encryption/decryption utility, Hurricane, a software and systems diagnostics and acceleration product, and Year 2000 Fix.
QUARTERDECK CORP.'s subsidiary released a new version of its PC hard disk utility through distributor WINNINGRUN SOFTWARE, INC. Crash Defender Deluxe prevents computer crashes from corrupting active data files, provides comprehensive reports on the sources and the causes of a crash, and can stabilize a crashing application. The utility for Windows 95/98/NT costs less than $50. .....Separately, QUARTERDECK CORP.'s local operation has produced a memory management utility for Windows 98. The $80 MagnaRAM 98 Super maximizes the use of PC RAM resources, enhancing the performance and the stability of Windows 98 applications. The memory manager also is available through WINNINGRUN SOFTWARE, INC.
A multiyear strategic development and distribution agreement has cemented ties between MACNEAL-SCHWENDLER CORP., a leading supplier of mechanical computer-aided engineering software, and KUBOTA SOLID TECHNOLOGY CORP., a wholly owned KUBOTA CORP. company. The two partners will develop a new family of p-element analysis tools under the MSC/Ultima name targeted at engineers and others who are not specialists in the technique. Thus, ease of use and compatibility with other CAD/CAE products will be a priority. Los Angeles-headquartered MSC and its Tokyo partner hope to have the first MSC/Ultima module ready for sale in the second quarter of 1999.
An upgraded version of PARAMETRIC TECHNOLOGY CORP.'s flagship CAD/CAE product is now available from its subsidiary. The Waltham, Massachusetts-based firm reworked the user interface of Pro/ENGINEER Solutions for Release 20. It also added a new sketching environment, integrated a 3D Notes communication tool and improved the software's speed.
CAD/CAE competitor AUTODESK, INC. also has introduced an update of its core product, AutoCAD LT 98, in Japan. Compared with the 97 version, the new package adds many Internet-friendly features, especially in the areas of data importing/exporting and sharing. An upgrade from AutoCAD LT 97 is $330, while a full version costs around $1,100. .....Separately, AUTODESK, INC.'s local unit put on the market an updated CAE package for architects. AutoCAD R14 VIZ+ integrates AutoCAD Release 14 and 3D Studio VIZ, a CAD visualization program written by the San Rafael, California firm's Kinetix division. When an architect alters his or her engineering drawing in AutoCAD, the changes are automatically reflected in the 3D representation generated by 3D Studio VIZ. Autodesk's subsidiary hopes to sell 3,000 of the $6,300-plus combos a year.
Claiming the ability to verify system-on-a-chip designs with up to 4 million gates, AXIS SYSTEMS, INC. of Sunnyvale, California has released its Xcite-1000 to Japanese semiconductor manufacturers through exclusive distributor MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. The $132,200 electronic design automation tool combines software simulation and an RCC hardware engine drawing on a deep library of high-density PLDs. The hardware/software combination, Axis claims, operates 100 to 1,000 times faster than pure software verification systems.
To better serve the requirements of Japan's expanding ultra-deep submicron IC design market, SIMPLEX SOLUTIONS, INC. a pioneer in the field of deep submicron (0.25 micron and below) full-chip interconnection verification opened a branch in Yokohama. The Sunnyvale, California company's distributor for the last two years, SC HIGHTECH CORP., will continue to sell and support its full suite of interconnect verification products and services. These include Fire & Ice 3D extraction and Thunder & Lightning analysis tools. They are designed to find IC performance, power and reliability failures before wafers are manufactured. SUMITOMO CORP., SC Hightech's parent, is one of the investors in Simplex Solutions.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Three acquisitions in as many months have made PSINET INC. second only to NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. as an Internet service provider to business and commercial users. In its biggest purchase, the Herndon, Virginia company paid an undisclosed amount to buy TOKYO INTERNET CORP. from majority shareholder SECOM CO., LTD. and others. Founded in 1994, Tokyo Internet's network infrastructure directly links 23 of Japan's largest metropolitan areas. The company's revenues jumped 65 percent in the year through March 1998 to $43.8 million, enabling it to break even. Tokyo Internet's nearly 6,000 leased-line, colocate, Web hosting and dial-up subscribers join the 2,000 or so corporate customers PSINet's subsidiary gained through the acquisitions of RIMNET CORP. and TWICS CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, pp. 20-21). All of them have access to the full range of PSINet services, including Internet faxing and voice, electronic commerce, security services, Web hosting, global roaming and intranet/extranet services. The company's frame relay-based, Internet Protocol- optimized network consists of more than 500 points of presence around the world.
Competitor and neighbor UUNET TECHNOLOGIES, INC., a MCI WORLDCOM, INC. company, also reportedly plans to move beyond providing Internet backbone access to offering Internet services to corporate customers. To do this, it will lease capacity from JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. and other Japanese carriers. UUNET operates more than 1,000 PoPs around the world and serves in excess of 70,000 corporate customers.
Hoping to win more customers for its satellite-based corporate Internet services, Bekkoame Spacenet, an affiliate of ISP BEKKOAME INTERNET INC., will replace its NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.-supplied terminals with equipment bought from INTELLIGENT DEVICES, INC. The Ijamsville, Maryland company's IP- based, high-speed digital broadcast products are designed to take full advantage of satellite communications to deliver digital data, video and audio to the desktop. Bekkoame Spacenet says that IDI's terminals are 50 percent faster and 30 percent less expensive than what it is using now. They also can be maintained remotely.
COBALT NETWORKS, INC., the developer of space-saving, easy-to-use, low-cost, scalable network solutions for ISPs, has opened a subsidiary in Tokyo to oversee sales and marketing by its five current distributors and other companies it hopes to sign up as well as field service. The Mountain View, California business also announced the upcoming availability of the Cobalt RaQ/J, a localized version of the Cobalt RaQ. This Internet server solution, like the already released Cobalt Cube 2700J microserver (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 13), comes preconfigured with the Apache Web server, Linux operating system and other software at what Cobalt says is a fraction of the cost of traditional Unix and Windows NT systems. It is available through NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. as well as ADAMNET CO., LTD., NTT INTERNATIONAL CORP., NIPPON TELEMATIQUE, INC. and PLATHOME CO., LTD.
To jump-start sales of the InterJet all-in-one Internet solution for small businesses, Foster City, California-based WHISTLE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. formed a subsidiary in Tokyo. That organization reportedly is negotiating with three ISPs to distribute InterJet, which integrates internal and external e-mail, Web access and Web publishing for the whole office into a single device. NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. and RICOH CO., LTD. already market localized versions of the product (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 24).
Unable to break through the 100,000-subscriber barrier (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 23), WEBTV NETWORKS INC. has come up with a novel way to persuade more people to use their TV sets to access the Internet. Next spring, SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. will package a WebTV CD-ROM with its just- released 128-bit Dreamcast home video game machine. The browser software will allow game players who have a WebTV set-top box to compete with opponents over the Internet.
Internet fax market leader FAXSAV INC. has enlisted a NISSHO IWAI CORP. affiliate to market its localized services under a three-year agreement that the Edison, New Jersey company values at $1.5 million. INFOCOM SYSTEMS CO., LTD. will deploy FaxLauncher Pro client software to enable its customers to create and send documents to any fax machine in the world. That is expected to produce 150,000 Internet fax pages a month. InfoCom Systems also plans to offer gateway solutions for fax document distribution using FaxSav's ServerLink application programming interface, which allows third parties to build access to the company's global Internet fax network into their own applications. DDI CORP. also offers FaxSav's Internet fax services (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 24).
The Tokyo subsidiary recently established by PACKETEER, INC. is projecting 1999 revenues of $8.3 million from sales of its PacketShaper line of bandwidth- management products to ISPs and other companies operating wide area networks. The three available PacketShapers are priced from $6,800 up to $27,300 (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 339, December 1997, p. 23). KANEMATSU ELECTRONICS LTD. and MACNICA, INC. have joined NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. as distributors of the Campbell, California supplier's products.
The decision by direct-to-home television broadcaster DIRECTV JAPAN INC. to expand the number of channels it offers subscribers to more than 150 from 90 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 28) has led to the award of a contract to longtime partners DIVICOM INC. and VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. to supply head-end equipment as well as system design and integration. DTVJ will use the Milpitas, California company's MediaView MV40 encoders to ensure high-quality video at efficient transmission rates. This equipment digitally compresses incoming analog video using a technique known as variable bit rate encoding. The digital signals then are combined and statistically multiplexed through the DiviTrack feature of the compression system and transported over an optical-fiber ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) network to DTVJ's uplink site in Ibaraki prefecture.
Companies interested in deploying secure, manageable virtual private networks over public IP networks have another option in the VPNware package from VPN pioneer VPNET TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The San Jose, California company's family of integrated hardware, software and services, sold through MCM JAPAN LTD., can support as few as 25 remote users or as many as 2,400 at what is said to be the lowest cost in the industry. The VPNware platform delivers standards-based Triple-DES encryption as well as authentication, key management and compression services at wire speed. Pricing in Japan begins at $19,000.
What INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. is calling a branch office in a box, otherwise known as the 2212 Access Utility, had a late November ship date in Japan and elsewhere. Using multiprotocol VPNs, this $12,400 system gives mobile workers access to LANs via remote LANs or connects branch offices to the Internet or to the company backbone.
Through its subsidiary, FORE SYSTEMS, INC. has introduced a pair of so-called intelligent multigigabit routing switches. The ESX-4800 is an eight-slot 10/100/1000 modular chassis with optional integrated ATM OC-12 uplink support for the most demanding enterprise and ISP network environments. It provides up to 48 ports of Gigabit Ethernet, 384 ports of 10/100 Ethernet, 16 load-balanced ATM OC-12 uplinks and 38-million-packets-per-second processing at Layer-2, Layer-3 and Layer-4. The Warrendale, Pennsylvania manufacturer's ESX-2400 is a four-slot 10/100/1000 modular chassis that delivers exactly half the capacity and the density of the ESX- 4800 platform.
The Catalyst 5500 switch family from CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. has a new member. The nine-slot Catalyst 5509 supports up to 384 10/100 ports or 38 Gigabit Ethernet ports on a 50-gigabit-per-second backplane. It can be deployed as a campus backbone switch with a large uplink using Gigabit Ethernet technology or as a wiring closet switch with multiple 10/100 ports. In its marketing campaign, Cisco is touting the fact that the Catalyst 5509 can be combined with a higher-end Catalyst 8500 routing switch to build a very high-end, multigigabit backbone link.
For branch offices and small or midsized businesses looking for a platform that combines dial access and routing in a single device, BAY NETWORKS, INC.'s subsidiary has the Nautica 4000 network access server. It supports both synchronous (integrated digital services network) and asynchronous dial access simultaneously on top of providing dedicated connections to traditional leased line, point-to-point and frame relay services. Configurations of the Nautica 4000 with four basic rate ISDN interfaces and integrated modems start at $7,800.
In an unexplained move, ANCOR COMMUNICATIONS, INC. dumped HUCOM INC. as the exclusive distributor of its GigaWorks Fibre Channel switches, even though that company had won a contract in 1996 for what was billed at the time as the world's largest Fibre Channel network. The Minnetonka, Minnesota manufacturer's new exclusive representative is NETMARKS, INC., a supplier of network integration services that is owned by NEC CORP., NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD., SUMITOMO ELECTRIC INDUSTRIES, LTD. and SUMITOMO DENSETSU CO., LTD.
MOTOROLA INC.'s local operation has on the market the MD100C+ two-way mobile radio system for commercial customers. The terminal/handset combination implements the NEXNET wide area integrated digital radio communications system promoted by NEXTEL COMMUNICATIONS, INC., which, in turn, is compatible with Motorola's iDEN (integrated digital enhanced network) technology (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 24). Accordingly, the MD100+ can be used for regular phone calls, paging and data communications as well as for two-way radio communications. Moreover, all these functions are accessible with just one hand.
To broaden its market coverage, videophone supplier 8X8, INC. added ACT CO., LTD., an Osaka consultant on store renovations, to sell its ViaTV VC150 desktop videophone. Like the Santa Clara, California company's other products, this model does not require a PC. Instead, it uses standard telephone lines to deliver full-color, telephone-quality video and audio. That technology means that no special wiring is necessary and that a video call costs the same as a regular phone call. The shoebox- size VC150 lists for about $2,400, including a digital video camera, or it can be leased for roughly $24 a month. MITSUI & CO., LTD. distributes 8X8's full line of ViaTV videophones (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 27).
The commercial start of IRIDIUM LLC's global satellite phone and paging system has been pushed back again in Japan, this time to January 1 from November 1 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 25). Technical factors were given as the reason for the latest delay. However, sources indicated that NIPPON IRIDIUM CORP. had failed to sign up any customers for its services, which use a constellation of 66 low-earth-orbit satellites to provide communications from virtually any point on the globe via handheld Iridium phones.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
Los Angeles-headquartered THE OUTDOOR RECREATION GROUP, INC. has made MARUBENI FASHION PLANNING CORP. the master licensee for the Outdoor Products brand of outerwear, apparel, jeans, shoes, sunglasses, watches, camping equipment and other products. The Osaka company will be responsible for administering the 16 Outdoor Products sublicensing agreements that TORG has concluded over the last decade. The first products from the new arrangement will debut in the fall of 1999. Marubeni Fashion Planning believes that it can build Outdoor Products merchandise into a $24.8 million annual business after three years.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The U.S.-designed, Marysville, Ohio-built 1999 Acura 2.5TL and Acura 3.2TL sedans are on sale at selected HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. dealerships as the Inspire and the Saber, respectively. The five-cylinder Inspire has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $21,800 and up, while the MSRP starts at $26,700 for the V-6 Saber. Both models have a North American parts content of 98 percent. Honda, which has seen Japan-bound exports of its U.S.-assembled vehicles plummet in large part because of strong American demand, hopes to ship roughly 30,000 Acura TLs a year back home.
Right-hand drive and other Japan-tailored changes have come to the Chevrolet Blazer sport-utility vehicle. GENERAL MOTORS CORP. and exclusive distributor YANASE & CO., LTD. raised the prices on the 1999 Blazer by 8.9 percent on average. The base LS model has a MSRP of $27,100, while the high-end model lists for $33,000.
JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC., which claims the title of the top U.S. supplier of seating and interior systems to assembly plants operated by Japanese automotive makers in the United States and at home, has expanded its local design, engineering and marketing capabilities for interior products. The Plymouth, Michigan company now has a new headquarters building and technical center in Yokohama as well as a regional business office near Toyota City in Aichi prefecture. The new infrastructure, Johnson Controls says, will help it support its Japan-based joint venture partners, develop innovative seating as well as interior products, and strengthen its R&D and prototyping capabilities. Among the interior products that JCI already supplies to car and truck factories in Japan are overhead consoles, sun visors, HomeLink Universal Transceivers, PathPoint compasses and map lamps.
With the North American manufacturing operations of Japanese automotive suppliers now making their own engineering and purchasing decisions, CHERRY CORP. has decided to close its Tokyo automotive sales and engineering subsidiary. The Waukegan, Illinois company opened the office in 1993 to help it gain business from transplants in the United States and Canada. Cherry makes electrical switches, sensors, electronic keyboards and controls, and semiconductors for the automotive, computer, consumer and commercial markets. It will continue to be represented in Japan through HIROSE CHERRY PRECISION CO., LTD., an equally owned venture with HIROSE ELECTRIC CO., LTD. that has an engineering center in Yokohama.
San Francisco's BEI TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has made AKEBONO BRAKE INDUSTRY CO., LTD. the exclusive distributor in Japan and several Southeast Asian countries of its proprietary quartz GyroChip sensors for automotive and transportation applications. The big Japanese manufacturer of brake system components and friction materials has diversified into automotive sensors. It currently makes micromachined linear accelerometers. Akebono Brake now will sell BEI's micromachined angular-rate GyroChip sensors, which are described as an essential part of automotive makers' new antispinout safety systems.
The sales battle between HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR CO. and HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. in the market for touring motorcycles is now a transpacific fight with Honda's introduction of its Marysville, Ohio-built 1999 Valkyrie Tourer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 29). The cruiser, adapted for the Japanese market, has a liquid-cooled 1,520-cc six-cylinder engine. Honda is projecting sales of 600 Valkyrie Tourers in the current model year. They range in price from $12,300 to $13,600.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.
The world's top manufacturer of fiber-optic cables for voice, data and video applications, Hickory, North Carolina-based SIECOR CORP., has opened the Japan Optical Cable Processing Center in Urayasu, Chiba prefecture in cooperation with KANDENKO CO., LTD., one of Japan's biggest electrical engineering firms. Under a five-year deal announced at the opening, the leading cable installer will process Siecor cables at JPC, thereby allowing Japanese customers to receive products tailored to their requirements within a week rather than the five to six weeks it previously took to fill orders from the United States. Siecor, equally owned by CORNING INC. and SIEMENS AG, has had a local sales and engineering office since 1986. That presence, the company says, has enabled it to become a key supplier to Japan's fiber-optic and telephony and cable markets.
SMITH FIBERGLASS PRODUCTS CO. of Little Rock, Arkansas has given DAICEL CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. the right to import and market its Grey Streak electrical conduit for protecting cables. The fiberglass-reinforced epoxy conduit can be buried or used in exposed places. Smith Fiberglass Products claims that its conduit not only is easier to install and longer lasting than conduit made from steel or polyvinyl chloride but also outperforms these alternatives. Daicel hopes to develop the Grey Streak product into an $8.3 million annual business after three years.
New on the market from LOCTITE CORP.'s subsidiary is a pair of anti-seize agents. Product 767 is a heavy-duty, high-temperature lubricating thread compound for heavy- pressure applications, including boiler and oven parts, jet engines and industrial turbines. The same general description applies to Loctite's nickel anti-seize lubricant 771. However, it contains metals, oils and graphite materials that cannot be burned away or removed by slow-moving parts, making it suitable, for example, as a lubricant for drop forge dies and catalyst bed and reaction chamber supports. The Rocky Hill, Connecticut manufacturer is projecting combined sales of $826,400 for the two compounds in the first year of marketing.
A wax that manufacturer UNISOURCE WORLDWIDE, INC. says can cut floor maintenance costs for commercial and industrial establishments by 30 percent because it lasts for three months rather than the usual one month is available exclusively from ACCOSS CO., LTD. The Tokyo-based building maintenance company plans to make the Berwyn, Pennsylvania company's Wet Look 80 product the basis of a franchised floor cleaning business. Accoss expects to sign up 50 or so franchisees in the first year that, in its planning, will have contracts to maintain 900,000 square feet of space.
A fire preventer made by NOCHAR, INC. is being being sold by SATAKE CO., LTD. of Fukushima prefecture. The Cicero, Indiana company's Nochar's Fire Preventer, or NFP for short, is a nontoxic, nonhazardous fire retardant for unsealed natural fiber materials, including cotton, wool, silk, rayon, linen, paper, cellulosic fibers and wood. Generally sprayed on, the product uses water as a carrier to penetrate the fiber. The water then is dried off or driven off, leaving the retardant in place. Typical uses for NFP in the United States include everything from on-site treatment of construction projects to packaging to uniforms. Satake has used Nochar's technology to add fire retardant properties to board products made completely from recycled paper.
The 1998 home run derby between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa has sparked greater interest in major league baseball among kids in Japan. TOPPS CO. INC. hopes to capitalize on this enthusiasm by giving midsized toy maker EPOCH CO., LTD. exclusive rights to import and distribute its MLB trading cards. The English- language cards, which cost about $3.30 per bag, will be available initially at 67 outlets, but the Tokyo company plans to expand the number of sales points. Next spring, Epoch will introduce a higher-quality line of baseball cards from Brooklyn's Topps under the Stadium Club name for $4.95 a bag.
With golf equipment no longer a growth business in the lean 1990s, SPALDING SPORTS WORLDWIDE, an ACUSHNET CO. firm, changed course in Japan at the end of October. Its subsidiary stopped marketing, giving OSAWA SHOKAI CO., LTD. the right to import and distribute its golf products, including Top Flight golf balls. Osawa Shokai is a knowledgeable partner because, until recently, it handled sales of the Foot-Joy line of golf shoes and golf gloves for another Acushnet-affiliated company (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 28). Spalding products are now sold at roughly 1,500 outlets across Japan. Osawa Shokai is looking for sales of $17.4 million in FY 1999 and $24.8 million in FY 2002.
In an attempt to spur slow sales of movies on digital video discs, TIME WARNER ENTERTAINMENT JAPAN INC., in cooperation with DVD player manufacturers MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP., plans to start renting DVD players and DVD movies at some 200 video rental outlets across the country. The TWEJ movie lineup will encompass roughly 130 titles. SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. has similar plans. Sales of DVD players and media have not lived up to their advance billing, in large part because of still high equipment costs.
Through a private placement, business publisher TOYO KEIZAI INC. will acquire a small (approximately 5 percent) stake in the joint venture between mutual fund rater MORNINGSTAR, INC. and SOFTBANK CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 29). The partners want to tap Toyo Keizai's expertise in projecting corporate earnings, while the publisher hopes to become more familiar with mutual funds, which are becoming a hot investment pick in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.