The undisputed world market leader in polyester films will emerge from the planned September formation of a global joint venture by TEIJIN LTD. and E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. to make and market polyethylene terephthalate and polyethylene naphthalate polyester films. With projected annual sales of about $1.4 billion and as much as 375,000 tons of production capacity, the equally owned business will control an estimated 26 percent of the international polyester film market. DuPont now is the world's leading supplier of polyester films, followed by TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC. and MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. While smaller, Teijin is the leading global supplier of PEN films. The unnamed new company will combine Teijin's two plants in Japan and a new facility in Indonesia with DuPont's polyester film operations in the United States, Great Britain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Japan and the People's Republic of China. TEIJIN DUPONT FILMS LTD. also will be folded into the joint venture. Formed in 1991, this company has plants in Circleville, Ohio and in Luxembourg. DuPont will receive an undisclosed amount of cash from Teijin to cover the difference in the value of their polyester film businesses.
Through internal growth and acquisitions, SUN CHEMICAL CORP. has become the world's number-one producer of printing inks and organic pigments. The latest addition to the Fort Lee, New Jersey company, a wholly owned subsidiary of DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC., is HERITAGE INKS INTERNATIONAL. This Edison, New Jersey manufacturer of news ink and corrugated ink had sales in excess of $55 million in 1997. Like Sun, it has production, sales, service and technical facilities across the United States. Heritage's news ink operations have been integrated into Sun's US Ink division, while its corrugated ink business has been melded into the Sun Chemical Inks (GPI) division. Sun also recently bought a British maker of printing inks to bolster its European operations. The combined cost of this acquisition and the purchase of Heritage is estimated at $85.5 million.
SUMITOMO CHEMICAL CO., LTD., one of the biggest agricultural chemicals producers anywhere, has increased its stake in MCLAUGHLIN GORMLEY KING CO. to 32.9 percent. The Japanese company had owned 14 percent of the Minneapolis maker of household insecticides since 1989. SUMITOMO CORP. also has a 6 percent interest in the company. MGK develops finished products and makes insecticide concentrates containing active ingredients supplied by Sumitomo Chemical. It has some 60 people on the payroll.
Extending its preclinical contract research operations to the United States, SHIN NIPPON BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES, LTD. acquired for an undisclosed price BIOSUPPORT INC. The Redmond, Washington company, which has about 50 researchers on staff, performs a range of safety and efficacy tests on both drugs and medical devices. It also has the capability to experiment with advanced surgical techniques. Biosupport has been placed under the operational control of SNBL USA, LTD. of Bothell, Washington. Through its subsidiary, the Kagoshima prefecture-based contract research organization also plans to open this fall a preclinical laboratory in Everett, Washington. The 50,000-square-foot facility will focus on toxicology and pharmacology studies in a Good Laboratory Practice environment. The facility will be unique on the West Coast, but Shin Nippon Biomedical clearly hopes that the lab and its Biosupport operation will help it win contracts from Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers developing products for the American and other foreign markets.
With the Ministry of Health and Welfare willing to accept more data from foreign clinical trials when pharmaceutical companies submit new drug applications, a number of drug manufacturers are considering the possibility of starting clinical testing abroad before they begin trials at home. EISAI CO., LTD., for example, hopes to launch Phase I testing of an endotoxin antagonist for septic shock in the United States this year. Its Teaneck, New Jersey subsidiary will oversee the trials.
SANKYO CO., LTD. has signed a research agreement with QUARK BIOTECH, INC. to use the San Ramon, California company's pathology-specific gene- discovery platform to study gene responses and identify drug candidates for Type II diabetes. QBI's proprietary technology isolates only those genes involved in a particular disease process, thereby aiding in the identification of key molecular targets. The contract includes milestone and royalty payments by Sankyo. People affected by Type II diabetes, the most common form of this disease, either fail to produce enough insulin or do not effectively use the insulin made.
FUJIREBIO INC. tentatively has agreed to license rights to a third- generation anti-ulcer treatment to SALIX PHARMACEUTICALS, LTD. Lafutidine both suppresses the secretion of acid in the stomach and protects the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In so doing, it helps to insulate the upper GI tract from the harmful actions of gastric acid and ulcer-inducing agents. Palo Alto, California-based Salix specializes in the development and the marketing of treatments for gastrointestinal diseases. Under the letter of intent with Fujirebio, the company would have worldwide rights to Lafutidine outside of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Argentina and Brazil. The Tokyo developer already has submitted a new drug application to MHW for the use of Lafutidine for the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Computer industry analysts long have wondered which of Japan's diversified electronics makers would be the first to acknowledge that it had a bleak future in the brutally competitive American personal computer market. The initial candidate is HITACHI, LTD. While not pulling out of the PC market, at least not right now, it is in the process of transferring the operations and the products of HITACHI PC CORP. to HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. Formed in mid-1995, Milpitas, California-based Hitachi PC markets the VisionBase line of PC servers, the VisionDesk series of desktop computers and various VisionBook families of notebook computers. The desktop and notebook machines soon could be history since Hitachi said that its emphasis in the future would be on PC servers. Regardless, the Hitachi PC name will be replaced in time by the Hitachi Data Systems designation. Until now, HDS, headquartered in Santa Clara, California, has marketed S/390-compatible mainframe servers and multiplatform storage systems as well as provided professional services. In late April, Hitachi will buy out the 16.2 percent share of ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP. in HDS (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 4).
In making HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. the focus of its North American information technology business, HITACHI, LTD. invested an additional $300 million in the company. A major portion of this money will be earmarked for HDS's professional services operations. The Santa Clara, California company also announced that at some unspecified time, it would meld its two S/390-compatible product lines. The HDS Pilot Series uses CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) processors, while the HDS Skyline Series is based on ACE hybrid technology, short for Advanced CMOS ECL (emitter-coupled logic). The new mainframes will be complemented by the Windows NT servers previously sold by HITACHI PC CORP. and by Unix servers.
In the meantime, HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. introduced a new line of mainframes optimized for electronic commerce and networked applications that delivers, at a minimum, nearly twice the performance of the company's existing products. The Hitachi Skyline Trinium uses HITACHI, LTD.'s second-generation ACE technology, which combines the original ACE process with copper circuit interconnection a first. Trinium performs at more than 1,000 MIPS (million instructions per second) when configured with four instruction processors and can top 3,000 MIPS with 16 processors. This high-end configuration, Hitachi calculates, can support more than 22,000 simultaneous enterprise resource planning users. To facilitate use of the Trinium as an e- commerce host, the mainframe has up to 64 gigabytes of main memory and as many as 512 discrete channel paths and supports up to 320,000 simultaneous input/output operations per second. For greater reliability, more of the Trinium's components are redundant. Four-way to 12-way Triniums will be available in the third quarter of this year, with 13- to 16-engine models coming in the first quarter of 2000. Hitachi hopes that the Hitachi Skyline Trinium will help it regain mainframe market share lost recently to INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. In FY 1997, the company shipped 1,195 mainframes to the United States, but the number dropped to an estimated 1,000 machines in the year through March 1999. Analysts are not convinced that the Trinium will reverse Hitachi's U.S. market fortunes since IBM is coming out with products that promise comparable performance at a lower price.
At the same time, HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. announced a new entry- level mainframe server in the HDS Skyline Series. The 26th model in the line, the performance of the single-engine Skyline 113 is rated at about 88 percent of the previous low-end model. The company also unveiled four additional systems in the HDS Pilot P8 Series of enterprise servers. The three-, four-, five- and six-way turbo models address high-end customers' disaster recovery requirements.
Some analysts are surprised that NEC CORP. has not pulled the plug on its money-losing PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. subsidiary. Since mid-1995, the Japanese company has committed roughly $2 billion in cash and assets to the number-five worldwide PC vendor (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 2). The latest capital injection amounted to a reported $450 million, which NEC paid the Sacramento, California supplier for its European operations. The transaction raised NEC's stake in Packard Bell NEC to approximately 88 percent. The balance is owned by France's GROUPE BULL. Packard Bell NEC will use $200 million of the money to pay off loans. The rest will go toward further restructuring. The company indicates that previous such moves centered on cutting fixed operating costs, consolidating operations, reducing staffing to about 3,000 people from 5,000 or so and refocusing distribution have positioned it to be profitable in the second half of 1999.
Coming up with innovative products at competitive prices obviously remains key to PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s future. One such product, the company's NEC Computer Systems Division hopes, is the NEC Express5800 HV8600, an eight-way server utilizing 400-MHz or 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors that incorporates advanced features like 128 megabytes of 100-MHz synchronous DRAM (dynamic random access memory) with Level 3 cache. NEC CSD claims that this system, which includes the NEC Aqua II chipset for enhanced performance, proves that servers running Windows NT Server Enterprise Edition 4.0 can handle the large application loads typically reserved for more expensive RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) servers. The pricing of the NEC Express5800 HV8600 starts at $79,400 for eight 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors with 1 megabyte of cache each, 4 GB of ECC (error checking and correcting) RAM (random access memory) expandable to 8 GB, SecuRAID 530 with 32 MB of cache and battery backup, and redundant cooling and redundant/hot-swap power supplies. Storage capacity can run as high as 216 GB.
Simultaneously, the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. became one of the first PC vendors to announce servers built around INTEL CORP.'s workgroup-optimized Pentium III processor. Available now is the NEC Express5800 LS2400 with one or two 450-MHz or 500-MHz Pentium III processors for workgroup collaboration, Web applications and e-commerce. A system that includes a single 450-MHz chip with 512 kilobytes of cache, 64 MB of internal memory, a 4-GB SCSI (small computer system interface) disk drive and integrated Ethernet capabilities starts at just $2,200. For large workgroups and satellite offices, NEC CSD released the NEC Express5800 MC2400. Also dual processor-capable, this server goes for about $3,400 if equipped with a 500-MHz Pentium III processor with 512 KB of cache, 64 MB of RAM, a 4- GB Ultra 2 SCSI hot-swap disk drive and integrated Ethernet. In the second quarter, the company will put on the market the NEC Express5800 ES1400 server with a 450-MHz Pentium III. Targeted at small businesses and workgroups, it will cost little more than a well-equipped corporate desktop machine.
The 450-MHz and the 500-MHz Pentium III processors also made an early appearance in the NEC PowerMate 8100 series of corporate desktop computers from the NEC Computer Systems Division of PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. This line also includes INTEL CORP.'s 440BX chipset, a 100-MHz front- side bus, accelerated graphics port architecture, Ultra ATA-33 SMART hard drives with capacities ranging from 4.3 GB to 20.4 GB and a suite of manageability software products. A NEC PowerMate 8100 with a 450-MHz Pentium III chip, 64 MB of internal memory and a 8.4-GB hard drive goes for about $1,800. Three hundred dollars more buys the same system with a 500-MHz processor.
The Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. also announced corporate desktop systems featuring the Pentium III the same day that INTEL CORP. released the fastest processors currently available. The build-to-order Equium 7100 line from TAIS starts at $1,500. In a crowded marketplace, the Irvine, California company hopes to differentiate its products by the large package of manageability tools that comes standard as well by the ease of servicing and upgrading the Equium 7100 series of commercial desktop PCs.
The release of the Pentium III also enabled SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. to beef up the digital video editing capabilities, music management and digital imaging functions of the VAIO Digital Studio PC series, which was launched last fall for the home market. Designed to allow users to do such things as create home movies and custom soundtracks, the PCV-E518DS features a 500-MHz Pentium II processor, 128 MB of SDRAM memory, a 17.2-GB hard drive, 8 MB of video RAM and a rewritable compact disc drive for $2,800.
The same engine also powers SONY ELECTRONICS, INC.'s innovative VAIO Slimtop LCD (liquid crystal display) home computer. The second product in the line, the PCV-L600, takes up roughly 75 percent less space than the typical desktop model. To achieve this small footprint, engineers used many notebook computer components, including a digital multimedia LCD, a slim CD-ROM (read-only memory) and floppy disk drive and a PCMCIA (personal computer memory card interface) card slot. The PCV-L600 also is the first Sony computer to ship with the company's built-in Memory Stick media slot, which enhances digital imaging capabilities and expandability. Pricing starts at $3,000.
The top seller of portable computers in the United States, the Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC., has achieved a major milestone: the production of 5 million notebook systems at its Irvine, California manufacturing facility. Not only are all the notebook computers TAIS sells in this country and in Latin America assembled at the factory, but so are the firm's Equium commercial desktop machines and Magnia server products.
The newest notebook computer to come off the assembly line at TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC.'s plant is the Satellite 2535CDS. Designed for budget-conscious small businesses, students and home users, the machine has an estimated street price of $1,400. That buys a 300-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 32 MB of EDO (extended data-out) DRAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 13-inch color display. The package weighs 6.8 pounds and is just 1.7 inches thick, in large part because the 24X CD- ROM drive, diskette drive and hard drive are combined in a slim, all-in-one design.
FUJITSU PC CORP. has given mobile professionals working for midsized businesses four more choices in its LifeBook E Series of notebooks. The E342 model now defines the line's low end. Powered by the new 300-MHz Celeron processor, it includes 32 MB of internal memory, 3.2 GB of storage and a 12.1-inch SVGA (super video graphics array) TFT (thin-film- transistor) display for an expected selling price of $1,500. The three other additions to the E Series use mobile Pentium II processors running at 300 MHz, 333 MHz or 355 MHz, respectively. They feature 64 MB of RAM, hard drive capacities of 4.3 GB (E351) or 6.4 GB (E360 and E370), a Zip drive (E370 only) and a 13.3-inch XGA (extended graphics array) TFT display. Estimated street prices go from $2,200 (E351) to $2,600 (E360) to $3,100 (E370). All LifeBook E Series models have dual multifunction bays that enable users to hot-swap such bay devices as floppy and CD-ROM drives. .....At the same same, FUJITSU PC CORP. added a new entry-level model to its all-in-one LifeBook C Series, which is targeted at the SOHO (small office/home office) and higher education markets. The C353 provides a 300-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, 32 MB of system memory, 4 GB of storage and a 12.1-inch SVGA TFT display for $1,500 or so.
With at least three Japanese companies bringing the mininotebook technology that is proving popular in Japan to the United States, the line is starting to blur between Windows-based laptop machines and devices running the recently released Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition Version 3.0 operating system. For instance, the LifeBook B112 mininotebook from FUJITSU PC CORP. uses the same 8.4-inch color TFT touch-screen display and stylus as a Windows CE H/PC Professional machine. It also is not much bigger, measuring 9 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches and weighing less than 2.7 pounds. However, the B112 runs Windows 98. It also delivers more power and performance with a 233-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 32 MB of RAM and a 3.2-GB hard drive. Most notably perhaps, at a suggested price of $1,600, the B112 costs a lot more than a Windows CE H/PC Professional system.
For its part, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC., one of the first companies to offer a mininotebook, the VAIO 505 SuperSlim Series, in the United States, is blurring the line between mobile computing and digital imaging with the release of the VAIO CIX PictureBook. This machine integrates a swiveling CCD (charge-coupled device) camera with a VAIO 505 SuperSlim machine, thereby enabling users to capture, manipulate and share both still and motion images with the click of a button. Weighing just 2.5 pounds and measuring only 1.5-inches thick, the Windows 98-compatible PictureBook comes with a 266-MHz Pentium processor with MMX technology, 64 MB of SDRAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive, an 8.9-inch XGA TFT display and a 90 percent- sized keyboard. It lists for $2,300.
The convergence between laptops and handheld PCs running Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition Version 3.0 also is being fueled by enhancements to the latter group of products. For instance, the next- generation HPW-600ET announced by HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. for shipment in early summer has a 7.5-inch color, resistive-touch LCD display with VGA resolution (640 pixels x 480 pixels) and the 128-MHz version of HITACHI, LTD.'s SuperH SH-4 RISC processor. The system, which will start at $1,200, weighs less than 30 ounces and measures 8.7 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches.
The Dover, New Jersey subsidiary of CASIO COMPUTER CO., LTD., the first company to release a H/PC device running Windows CE in the United States, has introduced a palm-sized PC designed to support the new Windows CE for Palm-size PC Version 2.1.1 operating system. The Cassiopeia E-100 features the company's first color TFT LCD screen, which has a resolution of 240 pixels x 320 pixels for better readability. It runs off a 131-MHz VR4121 processor from NEC CORP. Shipments will start in early spring.
To handle development and sales of the Windows CE 2.0-compatible, multifunctional Clarion Auto PC for vehicles, CLARION CO., LTD.'s subsidiary formed CLARION ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY CORP. in Irvine, California. The company is shooting for annual sales of 30,000 of the $1,300 units. The voice-activated Auto PC integrates audio, navigation, wireless communications and computing functions (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 3).
YAMAHA CORP. is supplying magnetoresistive heads to SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, INC., its first deal with the big Scotts Valley, California hard disk drive manufacturer. The order is thought to involve several million units. Yamaha is hoping to win a follow-on contract from Seagate for giant magnetoresistive heads, a technology that allows a huge jump in data density and, as a result, slim, higher-capacity drives for notebook computers. Before the Seagate order, the only company Yamaha supplied heads to was QUANTUM CORP.
At a cost of $10 million, PLAZA CREATE CO., LTD. acquired a 50 percent interest in CP HOLDING, INC. and a 40 percent or so stake in its CYCOLOR, INC. subsidiary. That Miamisburg, Ohio color printer company will use the money to extend its technology for making copies without the use of toner from text and graphics to photographic images. Such a development is of interest to Plaza Create since it operates a chain of film processing stores. Cycolor recently has received contracts worth a total of $10 million from four Japanese companies, including OMRON CORP. and SEIKO INSTRUMENTS, INC., for printer development projects.
The IMAGER line of digital document systems marketed by SHARP CORP.'s Mahwah, New Jersey subsidiary now includes the first product to offer network scanning capabilities. The AR-405 copier also can be connected to a network via the AR-PB2 internal print controller, thereby allowing printing from the desktop at a rate of 40 pages per minute with a resolution of 600 dots per inch. Sharp's Camas, Washington research and development unit developed the AR-PB2. The AR-405 has a suggested price of $12,300. The AR-PB2 costs $2,000 or, if bundled with an Ethernet network interface card, $2,300. The total price, Sharp points out, is less than separately buying a copier and a 40-ppm network printer.
For smaller businesses and workgroups, the Fairfield, New Jersey unit of MITA INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. has introduced the Mita PointSource Ai2020. This combination digital machine turns out 20 ppm as a copier and up to 18 ppm as a networked printer, also at 600 dpi. The base copier unit lists for $4,600.
What is billed as the world's fastest color ink-jet printer is on the market from SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s Torrance, California subsidiary. The Epson Stylus Color 900 outputs 10 ppm in color as well as up to 12 ppm in black and white at resolutions as high as 1440 x 720 dpi. Compatible with both PC and Macintosh platforms, the printer has an estimated street price of $450.
Despite all the advances in printer technology, SEIKO EPSON CORP. has not forgotten the impact dot-matrix segment. Its U.S. marketing arm has introduced the LQ-2180, a wide-carriage, 24-pin machine for printing invoices, multipart forms, reports, packing slips and labels at a rate of up to 480 characters per second. It lists for around $500.
Mobile professionals making presentations have a new tool in the CP- X955W LCD projector from HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. The projector works with diverse information sources, everything from desktop systems to handheld PCs. The resolution of the reproduced video and data images is true XGA (1024 pixels x 768 pixels). The CP-X955W's price of $12,000 also includes a remote control unit with a mouse function and a laser pointer.
A full line of presentation monitors is available from SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. with the release of the Sony Multiscan X9200 LCD rear-projection display. Developed for use as a computer or video presentation monitor in boardrooms and other exhibition-type environments, the display's image measures a true 50 inches. It uses three new Sony-designed 1.3-inch polysilicon TFT LCD panels within its optical system to provide XGA resolution (1024 x 768). Another selling point of the Multiscan X9200, which has an estimated price of $10,000, is its ability to accept computer and video signals from a variety of sources in a variety of formats.
In a deal that occurred in November 1997 but just was made public, BROTHER INDUSTRIES, LTD. acquired ZAPEX TECHNOLOGIES, INC. The Mountain View, California company is a developer of audio and video MPEG-2 technology. Since the takeover, Zapex has been working on an audio and video encoding solution that will help to bring down the still high costs of DVD (digital video disc) turnkey authoring systems. Its ZP board, scheduled for March release, uses only one PCI (peripheral component interconnect) slot for Window NT-based encoding.
Advanced metal evaporated tape, SONY CORP.'s most powerful recording media technology, is in production at the company's Dothan, Alabama factory. According to Sony, AVE tape provides the higher output signals necessary in small-format digital recording devices because the coating contains a larger percentage of magnetic material than is found in most magnetic tapes. That achievement, in turn, reflects the fact that AVE tape is made in a vacuum chamber and, thus, does not require the use of traditional binders. The Dothan facility initially is making AVE tape for use in data storage products. In time, presumably, it will produce this product for digital video tape. Sony opened the plant in 1977 to make recording media for sale in the United States. Today, the complex has more than 1,000 people involved in the production of consumer and professional video tape, audio tape and data storage media.
Competitor HITACHI MAXELL, LTD. is transferring some product planning operations to the United States from Japan. It also is assigning engineers from headquarters to the MAXELL CORP. OF AMERICA plants in San Diego, California and Conyers, Georgia and increasing the number of researchers at the company laboratory in Santa Clara, California. All of these moves are designed to strengthen Hitachi Maxell's U.S. data storage media business, although they should have spin-off effects for the video and audio tape that the company also makes here.
MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., SONY CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP. have joined APPLE COMPUTER, INC., COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NV in endorsing the high-speed IEEE 1394 digital interface. Invented by Apple, IEEE 1394 could become the industry standard for interconnecting new digital consumer electronics products and PCs. It offers a data transfer rate of up to 400 megabits per second. The six companies plan to form a patent pool to facilitate licensing the technology needed to implement the standard. They also will promote its industrywide adoption. iLINK is Sony's version of IEEE 1394.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Corporate Japan continues to sell off its once extensive portfolio of commercial real estate to raise money for restructuring. Among the companies recently taking advantage of strong U.S. property prices was SUMITOMO REALTY & DEVELOPMENT CO., LTD. One of its American subsidiaries sold an office building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to a Norwegian real estate investment group for $36 million. With the sale, Sumitomo Realty consolidated its U.S. operations in a single unit headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD. might be Japan's biggest and healthiest commercial bank, but it, too, could not resist the chance to capitalize on strong American asset prices to generate an estimated $750 million. It did this by selling shares in UNIONBANCAL CORP., the parent of UNION BANK OF CALIFORNIA, the state's fifth-largest bank. The sale reduced BTM's stake in the San Francisco-headquartered company to roughly 66.4 percent from 81.5 percent.
TOYO TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. is negotiating with CHASE MANHATTAN CORP. to take over its limited securities custodial operations in New York and Hong Kong. If finalized, the deal would mark the trust bank's complete withdrawal from overseas business. The two banks also reportedly are talking about Toyo Trust performing some back-office functions for the mutual funds that Chase offers in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a wholesale pullback from the American market, big food processor NICHIREI CORP. is liquidating all six of its money-losing U.S. subsidiaries. These businesses include NICHIREI FOODS AMERICA, INC., a Fife, Washington manufacturer of frozen imitation crab products that has been in operation since 1988; SEA WATCH, INC. of Easton, Maryland, a seafood processor acquired the same year; Lincoln, Nebraska-based SUN-HUSKER FOODS, INC., a chicken and beef processor that Nichirei bought in 1984; and TENGU, INC., a Los Angeles manufacturer of beef jerky that the company has owned for more than 10 years. Nichirei's Seattle distribution unit/holding company also is closing, as is a Miami operation. The six units had sales of around $125 million in FY 1997. Their liquidation will force Nichirei to take a onetime charge of $83.3 million in FY 1998. From now on, the food processor's U.S. activities will be limited to buying meat, fish and seafood, frozen vegetables and similar products for export to Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Steel pipe for ongoing and planned ATLANTIC RICHFIELD CO. oil and gas exploration and production projects around the world will be supplied primarily by MARUBENI CORP. The three-year contract volume could be around 550,000 tons, worth something on the order of $427.4 million. The trader will source the pipe from KAWASAKI STEEL CORP. and other Japanese steel mills. If Los Angeles-headquartered ARCO decides to go ahead with a natural gas project on Alaska's North Slope, it could require another 550,000 tons of pipe. Marubeni is one of the companies involved in a feasibility study of this project (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 4). ARCO tapped Marubeni as its main pipe supplier as part of a process of trying to thin the huge number of companies from which it obtains goods and services.
Under a four-year agreement, SANYO SPECIAL STEEL CO., LTD., the world leader in the production of high-quality bars made from specialty steel, will provide technical assistance to BAR TECHNOLOGIES, INC. on alloy round bar and wire rod. The Himeji, Hyogo prefecture company will help Fairlawn, Ohio-based Bar Technologies in such areas of rapid steel melting, rolling, finishing and inspection. This assistance is expected to boost Bar Technologies' chances of winning contracts from Japanese- affiliated automotive manufacturers in North America. At the end of 1997, Sanyo Special Steel provided similar technical assistance to REPUBLIC ENGINEERED STEELS, INC. of Massillon, Ohio, the top American producer of carbon and specialty steel engineered bars. In the interim, Bar Technologies purchased Republic.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
JAPAN DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANTS, INC. has agreed to give WITHROW INDUSTRIES, INC. U.S. marketing rights to its BeltBridle Type-II coil slitting line. The Sasebo, Nagasaki prefecture developer says that its system eliminates the problems associated with the coil-rolling tension units commonly used today: elliptical rolled coils, uneven coil edges and dirt and scratches on the coil surface. The BeltBriddle is able to form a perfectly round, scratch-free coil because of the construction of its special endless belts and the way they work. Japan Development Consultants also believes that the ability of the BeltBriddle to handle high-grade steel, very thin steel, soft-coated steel and even nonferrous metals without leaving damaging marks on the surface will appeal to the 450 or so coil-slitting centers in the United States as well as other operations slitting coils. Chagrin Falls, Ohio-based Withrow Industries expects to start sales in April.
Having already sold more than 6,000 robotic systems in North America, including an estimated 1,000 last year, KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. has taken several steps to keep sales of its new F series of compact, high-speed robots expanding at a double-digit annual rate. The number of sales personnel at KAWASAKI ROBOTICS (USA), INC. in Wixom, Michigan has doubled, and that company has added a satellite office in Louisville, Kentucky in addition to ones in Los Angeles and Toronto. Moreover, a robot repair and maintenance facility is in operation at KAWASAKI MOTORS MANUFACTURING CORP., U.S.A. in Lincoln, Nebraska. Seventeen variants of the F series robots are available, including 11 for materials-handling applications and four for arc welding. The modular units can be installed on the floor, ceiling or wall.
The Buffalo Grove, Illinois marketing unit of electrical discharge machine manufacturer SODICK CO., LTD. has introduced what it calls a real advancement in the servo motors that power EDMs. Unlike traditional motors, Sodick's AM35L and AM55L linear motor servo systems operate without ball screws, couplings and other mechanical parts that can cause backlash and lost motion. As a result, the company says, EDMs have better speed, acceleration and torque for faster, more accurate metal removal and finishing. In preparation for the launch of the AM35L and the AM55L, the number of sales people at SODICK, INC. was increased to nearly 60. It is projecting a 20 percent gain in sales to $72.6 million in the year through March 2000.
The strong commercial building market in the United States is a magnet for Japanese makers of construction equipment hurting for business elsewhere. Cranes are a particular focus. KOBE STEEL, LTD., for instance, has introduced a heavy-lift crawler crane developed specifically for the North American market. The boom of the CK1000 can lift up to 200,000 pounds, while the maximum lifting capacity of the jib is 24,000 pounds. It can operate with the boom section extended to 190 feet and the jib at 60 feet. Calhoun, Georgia-based KOBELCO AMERICA, INC. hopes to sell 60 CK1000 cranes in 1999. To help achieve this goal, it has set up a parts depot and is in the process of expanding the number of dealers that handle Kobelco equipment. If sales hit their target, Kobe Steel will consider assembling the CK1000 at its Calhoun factory starting in 2001. For the last decade, the plant has made hydraulic excavators.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Deciding that in-store minilabs are the future of photo processing, KONICA CORP.'s East Hartford, Connecticut photofinishing subsidiary has an agreement in principle with QUALEX INC. to sell three of its six wholesale photofinishing plants. The three facilities that the EASTMAN KODAK CO. subsidiary and the dominant force in the wholesale photofinishing business are expected to buy are located in Fountain Valley, California, Munster, Indiana and Salt Lake City, Utah. The price was not disclosed. KONICA PHOTO SERVICES U.S.A., INC. will continue to operate wholesale photofinishing plants in Scarborough, Maine, Mt. Laurel, New Jersey and Hudson, Ohio. However, as part of this restructuring, at the end of March, KPS's operations will be folded into those of KONICA U.S.A., INC., the Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey marketer of Konica photographic equipment, film and paper.
As part of the strategy to increase its presence in the on-site minilab market, KONICA CORP.'s Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey subsidiary unveiled the completely digital QD-21 Minilab. The company is pitching the system to retail outlets as a compact, all-in-one processing lab that both is fast, easy to use and cost-efficient and gives consumers a variety of photo processing options. Konica claims that the QD-21 Minilab delivers these features at a price less than half that of competing completely digital minilabs and, to boot, uses conventional photographic paper and provides processing service in less than 15 minutes.
This system will be going up against NORITSU KOKI CO., LTD.'s simultaneously introduced QSS-2711 DLS - Digital Lab System. Jointly developed by the minilab pioneer and EASTMAN KODAK CO., the small- footprint, modular, fully digital minilab is defined by Kodak's digital imaging technology. The Kodak DLS software not only reads and automatically corrects images from virtually any source, but it also provides new ways to output, distribute, display, store and access photographic images. The QSS-2711 DLS minilab also incorporates a new print engine developed by Noritsu that generates digital prints on silver halide paper. Kodak will backstop Noritsu's worldwide marketing and sales of the QSS-2711 DLS minilab. The Japanese firm's Buena Park, California subsidiary will start U.S. sales this summer.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
With the United States at the forefront of biochemistry research, YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. sees this market as the major source of sales growth for its real-time confocal microscopes. YEC has arranged to supply its new CSU10 confocal scanner for fluorescence microscopy on an original equipment manufacturer basis to MCBAIN INSTRUMENTS of Chatsworth, California and VAYTEK, INC. of Fairfield, Iowa. They will integrate the CSU10 with their own microscopes. The fast scanning and high resolution capabilities of the CSU10 enable direct viewing of clear- cut confocal images of fluorescent specimens in real time. The captured images can be recorded either as live images by a video camera or as real- color photographs by a film camera. Among other uses, the CSU10 can be used to track the movement and the reactions of living cells in real time or blood circulation. Yokogawa Electric expects to ship anywhere from 20 to 50 confocal scanners to both McBain Instruments and Vaytek annually.
With sales stalled at home and exports to Asia still off, electric measuring instrument manufacturer HIOKI E.E. CORP. is counting on the U.S. market to keep its business on the upswing. Its Cranbury, New Jersey marketing subsidiary has added two products to help achieve this goal. One is the lightweight, compact 8835 Memory HiCorder, a waveform recorder with a color LCD panel for better visibility and a Type III PC Card slot and floppy disk drive to facilitate the transfer of data to a PC for further processing. Four analog waveforms and 16 logic waveforms can be monitored and recorded simultaneously at a rate of 1 million samples per second, with 12-bit analog/digital conversion for each sample. The other product, the slim, lightweight 3280 Clamp On HiTester, is designed to meet the challenges of measuring current in the increasingly dense and complex internal wiring of today's electrical equipment.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
To mark the 10th anniversary of its ownership of MICROSI, INC., a Phoenix, Arizona semiconductor materials supplier, SHIN-ETSU CHEMICAL CO., LTD., the world's largest provider of materials to the semiconductor industry, renamed its subsidiary SHIN-ETSU MICROSI, INC. The fast-growing company's business includes photolithography products (pellicles, photoresists, quartz substrates for photomasks and contrast enhancement materials ) as well as thermal management materials, device packaging products and silicone polyamides for chip packaging. Shin-Etsu MicroSi also makes flexible copper laminates used in the production of flexible circuits.
In an example of extremely bad timing, KOMA-TSU ELECTRONIC METALS CO., LTD.'s big silicon wafer manufacturing plant in Hillsboro, Oregon became operational just as the slump in memories was nearing its depths in late 1997. As a result, KOMATSU SILICON AMERICA INC.'s liabilities, including a net loss of $83 million in 1998, nearly exceeded its assets. In addition to scaling back production and cutting employment, Komatsu Silicon as well as its parent have required financial help from KOMATSU LTD. First, the construction equipment maker bought Komatsu Electronic Metals' stake in Komatsu Silicon for a reported $30 million. Now, Komatsu is poised to inject $190 million into Komatsu Silicon to enable it to pay down its $280 million debt and to restructure the remainder.
The jobs of approximately 250 people will be affected by TOSHIBA CORP.'s decision to end by June the ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) design and trial production services provided by TOSHIBA AMERICA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS, INC.'s Microelectronics Center in Sunnyvale, California. The company blamed the closure of the facility, which opened in 1980, on the shift in ASIC demand from gate arrays, the Microelectronics Center's strength, to cell-based designs, which exceeded its technical capabilities. The 0.6-micron gate array services performed in Sunnyvale will be transferred to two Toshiba plants in Japan.
Offering chip manufacturers investment protection, the Semiconductor Equipment Group of HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. introduced an etch system that works with today's 200-millimeter (8-inch) wafers but that can be reconfigured later on to handle 300-mm (12-inch) wafers. The M700 ECR etcher is designed for metal, polysilicon and oxide etching. The switchover to a 300-mm line will take only three to four days. The conversion kit will cost about 8 percent of the original cost of the M700 ECR etcher.
AERA CORP. has put on the market a vapor delivery system for use in chemical vapor deposition and diffusion processes as well as in etch operations. The Austin, Texas manufacturer, a NIPPON TYLAN CORP. company, is touting two related advantages of the GS-437. First, it takes up less floor space than competing equipment because the refill system is housed in the same cabinet as the vaporizer. Second and perhaps more importantly, that configuration provides safer delivery of chemicals to process chambers. The GS-437 is designed to vaporize a variety of liquids, including tetraethyloxiarsine and tetraethyloxisilane.
By the end of 1999, TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. hopes to have ready a prototype of a burn-in system that can identify defective chips while they still are in wafer form. The semiconductor production equipment manufacturer contributed to the development of this technology in a project spearheaded by test company W.L. GORE ASSOCIATES INC. and MOTOROLA INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 6). The prototype is designed for 200-mm (8-inch) wafers and will be installed at one of Motorola's wafer fabrication facilities in Austin, Texas.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The skyrocketing prices of Internet stocks have given SOFTBANK CORP. the financial means to expand its already substantial portfolio of investments in American Internet companies. Its U.S. holding company sold 3 million shares of search engine provider YAHOO! CORP. for $410 million. SOFTBANK HOLDINGS INC. is using the proceeds to capitalize a fund that will invest in late-stage private Internet companies as well as in early-stage public Internet businesses. The sale of the Yahoo! shares, which generated a capital gain of roughly $390 million, left Softbank Holdings as the largest single shareholder in the Sunnyvale, California firm but with a 28 percent stake versus its former 30 percent or so interest.
Right before announcing its Internet company investment fund, SOFTBANK HOLDINGS INC. acquired a minority position in MENTUM CORP. The Hartford, Connecticut start-up is using the money to launch personalized, objective on-line financing planning services at a price that most investors can afford. The size of Softbank Holdings' stake in Mentum was not disclosed, but the investment gave the company the right to buy up to 15 percent of the e-commerce firm.
The Private Equity Department of MITSUI & CO., LTD. participated in the second round of private financing for PANGEA SYSTEMS, INC. This Oakland, California company provides software for bioinformatics the application of information technology to the R&D operations of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Mitsui's involvement with Pangea is expected to help the company bring its technology to Japan.
Japan's largest independent venture capital company, TECHNO-VENTURE CO., LTD., joined in a second round of venture financing for ADKNOWLEDGE that raised $14 million. The Palo Alto, California firm provides end-to- end management services to companies and ad agencies advertising on the Web. It currently has more than 225 clients.
A way to keep track of information of interest in electronic mail and on Web sites is coming from FUJI-TSU SOFTWARE CORP. in the form of an intelligent information assistant. Knowledge Browser, designed specifically for enterprise users, monitors every piece of e-mail a person receives as well as Web sites visited and automatically analyzes, summarizes and indexes these files according to topics relevant to the user. This capability extends to all e-mail and Web pages, not just those bookmarked. Knowledge Browser also has the unique ability to highlight new information on a Web site used before. San Jose, California-based Fujitsu Software has listed Knowledge Browser at $80.
TradeLink, the Internet commerce product from HITACHI COMPUTER PRODUCTS (AMERICA), INC., will support Enterprise Java Beans and DCOM (distributed component object models) by the fourth quarter of this year. The software now is compliant with CORBA (common object request broker architecture). The expanded support will give customers the flexibility to seamlessly integrate Internet commerce implementations across the supply chain, regardless of existing software applications, operating systems, hardware platforms or data base applications.
Extending the functionality of TPBroker, its tool for deploying enterprise CORBA applications, HITACHI COMPUTER PRODUCTS (AMERICA), INC. announced Hitachi Enterprise Application Manager. HiEM is said to give information technology managers an easy and flexible way to manage, administer, monitor and troubleshoot distributed, CORBA-based applications. More specifically, HiEM provides key performance, event and change management functions, with the results viewable through a Java- based GUI (graphic user interface) management console. The latest TPBroker-related product will be available in the second quarter.
To sharpen the focus of its videogame publishing business, the Redwood City, California unit of ASCII CORP. formed a subsidiary to handle this operation. AGETEC, INC., also located in Redwood City, is staffed by former employees of ASCII ENTERTAINMENT SOFTWARE, INC. It already has seven software titles scheduled for 1999 release, including six for the Sony PlayStation game console and one for the Nintendo 64.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Despite recent expansions, communications providers are having trouble staying ahead of the demand for transpacific Internet capacity. The coming transmission of video and other multimedia information via the Internet only adds to the problem. Last October, KDD CORP. upgraded its Japan-U.S. Internet backbone to 245 megabits per second from 135 Mbps. Now, INTERNATIONAL DIGITAL COMMUNICATIONS, INC., which has a 90- Mbps backbone, says that it will match KDD's capacity, while JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. will have by this summer a 355-Mbps Japan-U.S. Internet backbone versus its current capacity of 45 Mbps.
Through a 155-Mbps transpacific ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) link, FUJITSU, LTD.'s globally managed network services operation, FENICS (Fujitsu's Enhanced Information and Communication Service), will be extended to North America by April. Its partner is Santa Clara, California- based FUJITSU SYSTEMS BUSINESS OF AMERICA, INC., the operator of the FANS (Fujitsu's Advanced Networking Solutions) service. Through the tie- up, business subscribers to FENICS or FANS will have a transparent connection between Japan and the United States and vice versa. Among the services available are frame relay, ATM, private line and virtual private network as well as remote network access and high-speed Internet connectivity. Monitoring services also are part of the package.
TOSHIBA CORP. and BELLCORE are tangling the possibility of wireless access to voice, video, data and multimedia services in the 21st century. To make that prospective convenience a reality, they have teamed up on a project to develop the technologies necessary for the integration of wireless and Internet communications. More specifically, Toshiba and Bellcore hope to come up with the middleware layers needed to develop an Internet Protocol able to work with all types of cellular transmission systems. The Japanese partner brings to the project its strengths in terminals and wireless technologies, while the Morristown, New Jersey- based company will contribute its expertise in information networking software. The work, which could involve the joint expenditure of $25.6 million, will take place at Bellcore's headquarters. Engineers from both the U.S. firm and TOSHIBA AMERICA RESEARCH, INC., the electronics giant's new IT research subsidiary, will participate in the project. Bellcore is a SAIC INC. company.
The development partnership between DENSO WIRELESS SYSTEMS AMERICA, INC. and SPRINT PCS will continue, the Vista, California manufacturer of cellular handsets and the operator of the largest digital PCS (personal communications services) network in the United States announced. Their collaboration already has produced the Sprint PCS Touchpoint phone, a lightweight, small CDMA (code-division multiple access) handset that Denso Wireless makes. DENSO CORP., best known as Japan's top maker of automotive parts, set up the California operation in the fall of 1997.
One cause of the extremely slow start-up of IRIDIUM LLC's global satellite phone and paging service the lack of handsets has been eliminated. The Washington, D.C. operator cleared KYOCERA CORP. to ship its single-mode satellite phones, dual-mode satellite adapters and terrestrial cellular phones to Iridium customers around the world after resolving software issues. Kyocera currently is Iridium's sole phone supplier. BRIGHTPOINT, INC. of Indianapolis, Indiana is the initial North American distributor of the Japanese-made handsets (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, pp. 8-9).
Extending a consolidation of sales activities launched at home to the United States, MARANTZ JAPAN, INC. will sell the land mobile and marine radio equipment marketing, sales and service divisions of Los Angeles- based STANDARD COMMUNICATIONS CORP. to YAESU MUSEN CO., LTD.'s Cerritos, California subsidiary. That company, YAESU USA/VERTEX RADIO COMMUNICATIONS, INC., is in the same business. The deal was expected to be finalized April 1.
In a reversal of the usual sequence of events, telephone manufacturer NITSUKO CORP. will distribute in North America a version of ALTIGEN COMMUNICATIONS, INC.'s computer telephony platform after the two companies initially tied up to tackle the Japanese market (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 22). The Nitsuko Communication Server that the company's Shelton, Connecticut marketing unit will begin distributing in the second quarter is based on the Fremont, California firm's AltiServ system. Designed for companies with up to 100 users, including telecommuters and mobile workers, the NCS integrates call processing with a number of advanced voice messaging functions. IP telephony also is available as an option.
With the American cable modem market expected to take off after 2000, TOSHIBA CORP. is said to be weighing production of this product at its TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. subsidiary in Irvine, California. The big electronics company has been developing cable modems for the last three years. For about the same time, it has partnered with the cable television business of TIME WARNER INC. on tests around the country using cable modem technology to deliver high-speed Internet access to the number-two CATV operator's subscribers. These cable modems are manufactured in Japan, but Toshiba does not have the capacity there to make the part in volume. If it does transfer production to TAIS, output initially would be on the order of 10,000 cable modems a month.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The markers of how corporate Japan's problems are working to the advantage of expansion-minded U.S. companies now include one with an American/international angle as well as the typical Japanese face. Debt- laden SUMITOMO RUBBER INDUSTRIES, LTD., the number-three tire manufacturer in Japan and the maker of Dunlop-brand tires, is staking its future on GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO. SRI and Goodyear, now the world's third-largest tire producer, will form four operating companies. In the United States, the Akron, Ohio company will gain a 75 percent interest in SRI's DUNLOP TIRE CORP. subsidiary, which makes car and truck tires in Huntsville, Alabama and Buffalo, New York. This company, which the Japanese firm bought in 1986, does about $800 million worth of business a year. In Western Europe, SRI and Goodyear will combine their 14 tire operations in a business also 75 percent-owned by the American partner. This joint venture should have annual sales of around $4 billion. Two joint ventures also will be set up in Japan, with Sumitomo Rubber owning 75 percent of each. One will make Sumitomo/Dunlop and Goodyear tires for supply to domestic car and truck manufacturers. The other will produce Goodyear-brand tires for the replacement market. The four production companies will be backstopped by a technology-sharing firm and a global purchasing business, both of which will be majority-owned by Goodyear. To equalize the value of the assets involved in the six operations, the Akron corporation will pay its new partner $936 million. Goodyear also will acquire a 10 percent stake in the Kobe-headquartered tire maker, and Sumitomo Rubber will invest an equivalent amount in Goodyear stock. Analysts value this transaction at $88 million. The wide-ranging global alliance is expected to take effect by September 1, 1999. Goodyear projects that it will add $2.5 billion to consolidated annual sales, which totaled $13.1 billion in 1997, including $11.9 billion from tires. The deal once again will make Goodyear the world's biggest tire manufacturer. Sumitomo Rubber's sales of $4.7 billion in 1997, of which $3.6 billion came from tires, obviously will take a hit; however, its business should become more profitable.
Two of HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s parts suppliers have announced new plants. KEIHIN CORP., in conjunction with its INDIANA PRECISION TECHNOLOGY, INC. affiliate, will construct a $9.5 million plant in Muncie, Indiana to make air-conditioning units for the HONDA OF AMERICA MANUFACTURING, INC. factory in East Liberty, Ohio. KEIHIN AIRCON NORTH AMERICA, INC. is scheduled to begin volume production in April 2000, turning out air-conditioning systems for 200,000 Honda vehicles in the initial year and 500,000 annually after three or four years. At that point, KAC could have as many as 150 employees. Indiana Precision Technology has made electronic fuel injection systems in Greenfield, Indiana since 1989. It also has a relatively new subsidiary in Tarboro, North Carolina, CAROLINA SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY, INC., that makes electronic air management systems.
For its part, YACHIYO INDUSTRY CO., LTD. will spend $29 million to build a factory in Marion, Ohio to make state-of-the-art plastic fuel tanks for HONDA OF AMERICA MANUFACTURING, INC.'s Marysville, Ohio factory. US YACHIYO INC., which will do plastic molding using technology developed by its parent and a plastic machinery manufacturer as well as subassembly work, is expected to be operational in August 2000. At full capacity, it will be able to turn out 480,000 fuel tanks annually. Within three years, USY will employ some 80 people. This company is Yachiyo Industry's second U.S. production venture. It also manufactures sunroofs in Columbus, Ohio through A Y MANUFACTURING, LTD.
Production has started at the UNISIA JECS CORP. factory in Monroe, Georgia. However, the company's first wholly owned offshore manufacturing facility is not making the product originally planned. Instead of drive shafts, UNISIA OF GEORGIA CORP. is producing crank angle sensors, cam angle sensors and purge control valves. These engine parts will go to the North American plants of Japanese vehicle makers, including, presumably, those of NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD., Unisia Jecs' main customer. Unisia of Georgia is projecting sales of $60 million in 2005.
Automatic transmission clutch output will increase this summer at JAYTEC, INC. in Portland, Indiana. Parent F.C.C. CO., LTD. has earmarked $1.7 million to expand the floor space at the 10-year-old plant, which also turns out torque converter lockup clutches and segmented clutch friction disks. HONDA TRANSMISSION MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA, INC. in Marysville, Ohio is Jaytec's main customer. Sales in FY 1998 were an estimated $76.9 million. With the added production, Jaytec, which has 275 employees, is looking for revenues of $85.5 million in FY 1999.
Another parts company that began production in 1989, PACIFIC INDUSTRIES USA, INC., has renovated its Fairfield, Ohio plant. The wholly owned PACIFIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. subsidiary has been making tire valves. Now, it has the capability to produce other small stamped parts for sale to Japanese-affiliated automotive makers in North America. Annual revenues are running around $10 million, but Pacific Industries believes that sales can increase to $30 million a year down the road.
SATURN CORP., a GENERAL MOTORS CORP. company, has awarded contracts to two more Japanese-affiliated parts manufacturers. Via parent TOYO ROKI MANUFACTURING CO., LTD., Findlay, Ohio-based FILTECH, INC. beat out 18 other bidders to supply oil filters for Saturn's small cars. The firm expects to ship 345,000 oil filters to Spring Hill, Tennessee in the first year. Filtech has been making air and oil filters and cleaners since 1990, but the Saturn contract marks the first time that it has won significant business from a Big Three builder. .....The cars that SATURN CORP. builds for the 2000 model year will contain shock absorber modules developed by KAYABA INDUSTRY CO., LTD. The part, which includes the shock absorber itself as well as springs and the mount that connects the unit to the chassis, will be made by Columbus, Indiana-headquartered ARVIN-KAYABA LLC. Kayaba formed this company last year with ARVIN INDUSTRIES, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 9). The Saturn contract represents the first time that the Japanese partner has supplied its shock absorber module to a foreign automotive maker.
A contract for torque converters for automatic transmissions from FORD MOTOR CO. for a car that will debut as a 2000 model could give a big boost to DAIKIN DRIVETRAIN COMPONENTS CORP.'s business. In time, the Mascot, Tennessee subsidiary of EXEDY CORP., which began operations in early 1996, could supply as many as 500,000 torque converters a year to Ford. NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.'s Smyrna, Tennessee complex currently is Daikin Drivetrain's only customer. It buys about 300,000 torque converters annually. With the Ford order in hand, the parts manufacturer believes that revenues could double in the near term to $68.4 million a year.
TAIHO KOGYO CO., LTD.'s plans for U.S. production of engine bearings continue to evolve. Initially, the TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. affiliate was leaning toward having its Tiffin, Ohio subsidiary make these high- performance parts (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 10). Now, however, it is talking about setting up a company with FEDERAL-MOGUL CORP. to manufacture engine bearings as early as 2001. With technical assistance from Taiho Kogyo, the big Southfield, Michigan- based bearing supplier currently turns out main and connecting rod engine bearings for Japanese-owned vehicle factories in North America.
Orders for subway cars continue to roll in to KAWASAKI RAIL CAR, INC. from New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority. On the heels of a December contract for 100 cars (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 10), the KAWASAKI HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. subsidiary received an order for another 112 cars. The combined contract is worth an estimated $360 million. The frames of the 212 subway cars will be built in Japan, with final assembly taking place at Kawasaki Rail's Yonkers, New York plant. Deliveries are scheduled over the February 2001- June 2002 period.
In their second U.S. win in 10 months, trader SUMITOMO CORP. and rolling stock maker NIPPON SHARYO, LTD. have an order from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District for 12 light rail cars. Four of the cars in the $29.1 million contract will be user-friendly for handicapped riders on the South Shore Line along the southern rim of Lake Michigan. Final assembly of the cars will take place at a facility outside San Francisco that Sumitomo and Nippon Sharyo plan to use to fill a contract for the neighboring Caltrain commuter rail line (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 10). The Northern Indiana rail cars are scheduled for delivery in the latter part of next year.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The Wilsonville, Oregon plant of polishing materials manufacturer FUJIMI INC. is sampling slurries used in the chemical mechanical planarization semiconductor process. Volume production will begin once it lines up customers. The decade-old operation also makes polishing materials for aluminum memory disks and silicon wafers as well as lapping materials for glass used in cathode ray tubes.
The movie business is a tough way to make money, as VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. has been reminded repeatedly since it formed LARGO ENTERTAINMENT INC. in 1989 to produce movies. JVC got out of that part of the business in April 1994 when Largo switched to acquiring foreign marketing rights to pictures produced by studios and independents. Now, JVC has pulled the plug on this operation. In the future, a downsized Largo will just administer rights to the 30 or so pictures already in its library. However, Los Angeles-based JVC ENTERTAINMENT INC., Largo's immediate parent, will continue to work on the development, production and acquisition of rights to films for the Japanese market.
By the end of June, software engineering company MEITEC CORP. will liquidate its money-losing Santa Clara, California employment agency subsidiary. The Nagoya firm bought the temporary help business that formed the core of its first offshore operation in 1989. The California company specializes in placing engineers. Ironically, this announcement came just days after GENERAL ENGINEERING CO., LTD. said that it planned to open offices in the Boston area and in Silicon Valley by this fall to launch a technical staffing business as soon as April 2000. The Tokyo company hopes to recruit new or recent college graduates with degrees in science and engineering for assignment to computer, automotive and other firms that have had trouble hiring enough information technology employees.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
At a cost of $16.2 million, ABBOTT LABORATORIES bought more of partner DAINIPPON PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.'s share in DAINABOT CO., LTD. The transaction, which cut the midsized Japanese drug company's stake in the Osaka-based importer and marketer of Abbott products to 21 percent from 24 percent, was in line with an early 1996 agreement. Under this arrangement, Dainippon Pharmaceutical will sell what was its 30 percent interest in Dainabot to the American company by March 2005. During that 10-year period, however, the Japanese firm will continue to supply drugs to the joint venture.
It took seven years, but the Ministry of Health and Welfare finally has given TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. the go-ahead to produce minoxidil, the PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. product that both promotes the growth of new hair and prevents the loss of existing hair. The American half of Pharmacia & Upjohn licensed the Japanese company in 1985 to make and market what is called Rogaine in the United States. Taisho Pharmaceutical will begin to market minoxidil in June under the name of Re-up. A 60-milliliter bottle will cost about $47.
For its part, the local operation of PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. hopes during 1999 to win MHW marketing approval for three products. One is Xalatan (latanoprost ophthalmic solution), a glaucoma treatment for patients who are intolerant of or insufficiently responsive to other medications designed to lower the intraocular pressure in the eye. The Bridgewater, New Jersey drug manufacturer sees Xalatan, which belongs to the class of compounds known as prostaglandins, developing into at least an $85.5 million annual business in Japan. Pharmacia & Upjohn also is seeking marketing clearance for Cabasee, a treatment for Parkinson's disease that it developed with KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., and for a drug for migraine headaches that was codeveloped with KANEBO, LTD.
AGENNIX INC. has given SANTEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. the right to develop its recombinant human lactoferrin for the treatment of dry-eye disease, a common cause of eye irritation and impaired vision. The world's third-largest supplier of prescription eye medications, Santen also will have exclusive international sales rights to the ophthalmic. The Houston- based biotechnology company will receive a development payment of up to $5.9 million, plus royalties on net sales. Human lactoferrin is an anti- inflammatory and immunodulatory protein, with applications for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases. Agennix is pursuing gastrointestinal and dermatological applications of human lactoferrin.
Under a five-year, nonexclusive agreement, MITO-KOR CORP. licensed SRL, INC., Japan's largest clinical testing laboratory, to use its Mito-Load assay and software for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease and for selecting candidates for human clinical trials. The San Diego, California biotechnology company's Mito-Load assay is a blood-based, in vitro, nucleic acid test that measures alternations in mitrochondrial DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in Alzheimer's. In exchange for the license, Tokyo-headquartered SRL will make an up-front payment to MitoKor and also pay royalties on a per-test basis.
The subsidiary of one of the world's largest clinical diagnostics companies, Deerfield, Illinois-based DADE BEHRING INC., has contracted with ORIENTAL YEAST CO., LTD. to manufacture seven inputs for reagents used in an immunochemistry test that provides various measurements of protein in blood serum. The supply will start in April. Oriental Yeast, which is trying to build up its biochemistry business, spent $427,400 on equipment to fill the Dade Behring contract.
LJL BIOSYSTEMS, INC. gave SUMITOMO CORP. exclusive rights to distribute its drug discovery products to Japanese pharmaceutical houses. The Sunnyvale, California company says that its Analyst platform addresses many of the problems associated with other drug discovery technologies, thereby enabling users to accelerate the identification and the optimization of compounds for development into new medicines.
CLONTECH LABORATORIES, INC. has strengthened its local marketing presence through personnel appointments and the relocation within Tokyo of the offices and distribution center of its wholly owned subsidiary. The Palo Alto, California company produces biological systems, kits and support tools designed for drug discovery, cancer research, neurobiology, pharmacology, cell biology, genomics and functional genomics.
Against the backdrop of tightening government restrictions on the output of dioxin from Japan's nearly 2,000 municipal waste incinerators, PARACELSIAN INC. has given an unnamed conglomerate that builds municipal waste incineration facilities among other businesses the right to commercialize its test for dioxin. The Ithaca, New York biotechnology company claims that its Ah Immunoassay provides a quick, easy and accurate way to measure dioxin production. Perhaps more important, the Paracelsian test is said to cost far less than the gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry method traditionally used to measure the highly toxic contaminant.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The world's largest electric utility is ready for any emergency that knocks out its main computer system. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has installed a backup server in Saitama prefecture that is linked via a very high-speed network with TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC.'s computer facility in central Tokyo 30 miles away. If a disaster damages that operation, TEPCO will be able to get its computer system back up and running in about two to three minutes. At the heart of the Compaq backup/recovery system is one of its high-powered, 64-bit RISC AlphaServers running the OpenVMS operating system.
The recession is forcing the subsidiaries of American companies as well as Japan's electronics manufacturers to find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. One step by IBM JAPAN LTD. in that direction was to spin off its accounting and general affairs departments into subsidiaries. This move is expected to trim IBM Japan's administrative staff to 500 from 800. The 64 companies affiliated with the computer maker will shift their accounting and administrative operations to the new units in stages. In 1993, IBM Japan converted its personnel department into a subsidiary.
Market trackers report that computer sales, particularly PC sales, are on the rebound, but the turnaround did not occur soon enough for MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. The direct marketer has pulled out of Japan, where it never managed to sell more than about 15,000 machines a year since launching operations in 1996. Late last year, the Nampa, Idaho company signaled that it was having second thoughts about trying to slug it out with its many American and Japanese competitors (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 11). Micron Electronics reportedly is looking for a distributor to handle its PCs. In the meantime, it contracted with PFU LTD. for service.
Increasingly frustrated that its market share in Japan lags so far behind what it has gained in the United States and internationally, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. is trying to boost sales by lowering prices. The cuts extend over a cross section of its broad product line. At the top, they include reductions of 10 percent to 24 percent on all models in the Windows NT-based Digital Server 3300, 5300 and 7300 series; these enterprise servers are powered by the 64-bit RISC Alpha 21164A processor. Compaq's subsidiary also slashed prices by as much as 22 percent on its Professional Workstation AP400 and AP500 models, which run off fast versions of the Pentium II. In addition, it trimmed prices on the corporate desktop Deskpro line by up to 25 percent and decreased those for the Armada 3500 Slim series and the Armada 1700 Value series of notebook PCs by up to 21 percent. So far, there are no signs that these moves are leading to the price-cutting one-upmanship that roiled Japan's PC market earlier in the 1990s. One reason is that the reductions on the Compaq desktop and notebook machines were linked to the introduction of lower-priced replacements. However, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary did mark down prices by as much as 19 percent on all its Precision PC workstations and on certain models in its PowerEdge PC server family. Moreover, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. discounted prices by as much as 23 percent on all Vectra desktop PC models targeted at corporate customers.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s unit also is refining part of its marketing strategy for PCs in an attempt to give a lift to sales. It has enlisted CANON SALES CO., INC. to handle Presario desktop and notebook models targeted at the corporate market. Canon Sales will stock these products at its Zero-One stores, which are located mainly in the Tokyo area, and market them through its network of distributors. This is the second time that Compaq has turned to Canon Sales for marketing help. In January 1998, the world's top PC vendor gave the company exclusive rights to sell a new line of Presario PCs for the home. That arrangement contributed to the roughly tripled sales of home-use Presarios in 1998. Compaq is gunning to double overall Presario sales in 1999.
For its part, GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary sees directly managed stores as a market-boosting complement to direct sales by phone and over the Internet. The company has opened its fourth Gateway Country Store, located in Sendai in northern Honshu. Like the ones in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya, the store sells Gateway PCs and peripherals as well as movies on DVDs.
Of course, new products remain central to the marketing strategies of all American computer manufacturers. Going after the scientific and technical computing markets, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced a new generation of RS/6000 SP supercomputers. The 64-bit RISC POWER3 processor that is at the heart of the POWER3 SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) Node system can perform up to 2 billion operations per second, or roughly double the capabilities of the POWER2 chip previously found in the SP line. However, pricing basically has been left unchanged. For example, the low-end POWER3 SMP Node starts at $82,000. The new SP family, which, like its predecessors, runs AIX, IBM Japan's version of Unix, can scale from one or two nodes up to 512 nodes, with performance expanding almost linearly with size.
IBM JAPAN LTD. also released additions to the AS/400e enterprise server line that deliver a 30 percent average price/performance improvement, thanks to a fourth-generation 64-bit RISC PowerPC processor. The AS/400e 720, 730 and 740 systems simultaneously can host Internet sites, conduct electronic business, mine data bases, run enterprise Java and native Lotus/Domino and handle traditional business applications. One innovation incorporated in the new models, which run OS/400 Version 4 Release 3 but are ready to use the next release, is logical partitioning. LPAR enables a single server to operate like multiple servers. The AS/400e Model 720, which can be configured with one to four processors, starts at $102,600. The Model 730 supports one to eight PowerPCs and goes for $282,900 and up. The top-of-the-line Model 740 can handle eight to 12 processors. Its pricing begins at $2.1 million.
When it bought DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. in June 1998, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. said that it would continue to implement DEC's powerful 64-bit RISC Alpha processor architecture. For a time, this promise appeared to be jeopardy. Finally, however, Compaq released worldwide the first two products incorporating what industry analysts consider to be the fastest processor available, the Alpha 21264 running at 500 MHz. The Professional Workstation XP-1000, which starts at $13,800, supports the just unveiled Tru64 Unix, Compaq's successor to the 64-bit Digital Unix operating system, OpenVMS and 64-bit Windows NT. Compaq also put the Alpha 21264 chip into a new line of servers called the AlphaServer DS20. The entry-level price for this dual processor-capable system with 128 MB of memory and 4 GB of disk storage is $30,600 for either Tru64 Unix or OpenVMS with their Windows NT interoperability.
In the latest attempt to protect its position in the Unix systems market, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. started international shipments of high-end and mid-range enterprise servers sporting the new 400-MHz UltraSPARC II processor and the company's exclusive 100-MHz Gigaplane XB crossbar or standard Gigaplane interconnect technology. According to Sun, the 34 percent performance enhancement to the Sun Enterprise 10000 server, more familiarly known as Starfire, and to the Sun Enterprise 3500, 4500, 5500 and 6500 server lines should bring immediate benefits to traditional data center applications, including on-line transaction processing, enterprise resource planning, data warehousing and high-performance computing, as well as to Internet service providers. .....SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. also brought the performance enhancements of the 400-MHz UltraSPARC II processor to the lower range of its Unix server lineup by installing it in the compact Sun Enterprise 250 server. Moreover, with a starting price of $13,200, Sun's subsidiary priced the new product to go head-to-head with PC servers.
Windows NT users requiring a high-availability solution are the target customers for COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Parallel Database Cluster system, which can link together as many as six ProLiant 1850R servers. When used with Oracle8 Enterprise Edition and Parallel Server software, the system also provides the data processing speed sought by enterprise customers. A configuration with four ProLiant 1850R servers, a Fibre Channel storage interconnect kit and 9.1 GB of hard drive storage costs $182,000.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s higher-end PC servers now can deliver the power of the 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processor with its choice of 512 KB, 1 MB or 2 MB of L2 cache. The ProLiant 5500, which is available as a minitower model or a rack-mounted system, starts at $13,200. The four- way-capable ProLiant 6000 costs $13,700 for the base single-processor model. The ProLiant 6500, which is designed for high availability, goes from $29,100. That also is the starting price for the ProLiant 7000. It, too, can be equipped with up to four 450-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors and offers the latest in high-availability features.
In a Japan-only initiative designed to make its PC servers stand out in the crowd, HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. is bundling Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 with selected NetServer products: the LXr 8000, the LH 4/4r and the LH3/3r. This strategy does double duty since it could help MICROSOFT CORP. win market share from LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s Notes.
With corporate IT budgets pinched, the products offered by American PC manufacturers increasingly are value-priced. Sometimes, though, this strategy buys innovative packaging as well as performance. For example, the first product to emerge from GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s summer 1998 initiative to develop products specifically for the Japanese market is the Gateway Profile, a space-saving desktop machine that integrates a 15-inch LCD display with the PC's electronics. This $2,100 system, which offers 64 MB of main memory and a 4.3-GB hard drive, also is the second Japan-only Gateway PC to use the 400-MHz AMD-K6-2 processor from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 14).
IBM JAPAN LTD. also hopes that a space-saving design can sell desktop PCs. It has put on the market two versions of the IBM PC710 Slim Tower with a skinny LCD display and a thin hardware box. The 6870-JH3 model runs off a 333-MHz Celeron processor. It lists for $2,300. The 6870-JH6 system, which goes for $3,200, uses a 400-MHz Pentium II chip.
The same two companies are using the Celeron processor running at 366 MHz to give customers that are budget-minded but performance-conscious new desktop options. This chip shows up in a $2,000 addition to IBM JAPAN LTD.'s PC 300GL line and in the new, three-model PC 300PL family, which starts at $2,800. The 366-MHz Celeron processor also is the latest engine in the E-1200 series of systems for corporate networks from GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary. The new model features 32 MB of system memory, a 3.2-GB hard drive, a 32X CD-ROM drive and a 15-inch monitor for less than $1,200.
For GATEWAY 2000, INC. corporate customers that want more in terms of performance and bells and whistles while staying within budget, the direct marketer is offering the GP6-400. Powered by a 400-MHz Pentium II with 512 KB of cache, this machine comes standard with 96 MB of SDRAM, a 13-GB Ultra ATA hard drive, an IOMEGA CORP. internal Zip drive, a 17-inch color monitor and other features for just $1,600-plus.
Given the limited budgets of most IT managers, generic PCs would seem to be ready-made for today's market environment since they cost far less than name machines. For whatever reason, they have been slow to catch on, perhaps because Japan is an extremely brand-conscious country. Now, however, SOFTBANK CORP. has thrown its weight behind this sales strategy. It has arranged for big electronics distributor INGRAM MICRO INC. of Santa Ana, California to supply it with no-name PCs on an order- only basis. Softbank thinks that it can sell 200,000 PCs in the first year by charging 20 percent to 30 percent less than brand-name systems cost. It also has lined up a RICOH CO., LTD. subsidiary to provide nationwide service for the PCs.
Not surprisingly, the value-pricing strategy extends to notebook computers. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary, for instance, introduced four models in the Armada 1500c Basic Advantage series with an eye toward winning bulk orders for them from companies. These machines use mobile Celeron processors running at up to 300 MHz with 128 KB of integrated L2 cache, 32 MB of system memory, a 4-GB hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM drive and a diskette drive. To hold prices down, though, the Armada 1500c models have a 12.1-inch supertwisted nematic display rather than the usual TFT display. Pricing starts at $1,500.
Adding about $600 to the price allows COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s unit to respond to one of the few drivers of the notebook market: the demand for thin, lightweight machines. Its Japan-tailored Presario 1905 and 1906 models measure just 1.2 inches thick and weigh only about 4.6 pounds, yet they feature a 13.3-inch XGA TFT display and integrated hard drive, DVD- ROM drive and diskette drive. A 266-MHz mobile Celeron processor provides the power.
American vendors are not ignoring notebook models that cost more. DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary, for one, introduced two new products in its Latitude CPi line. The A366XT runs off a powerful 366-MHz mobile Pentium II processor and comes with AGP technology for improved three- dimensional graphics and a 13.3-inch XGA TFT display. It lists for $2,900. The A300ST, which goes for $2,600, has a 300PE MHz mobile Pentium II chip, AGP and a 12.1-inch SVGA TFT display. Both have 64 MB of RAM standard and disk storage capacity of 6.4 GB.
IBM JAPAN LTD. has put on the market for the mobile professional five localized models in its cutting-edge ThinkPad 600E notebook line. Priced between $4,000 and $5,100, these products offer a choice of the 366-MHz mobile Pentium II or the 300PE MHz mobile Pentium II with at least 256 KB of L2 cache, plus AGP. All have a 13.3-inch SVGA TFT screen, a minimum of 64 MB of internal memory and either a 4-GB or a 6.4-GB hard drive. An UltraSlim bay that accommodates a variety of options, including a DVD drive, a CD-ROM drive, a SuperDisk drive and a diskette drive, is standard. Moreover, regardless of model, the package has a 1.4-inch profile and a travel weight of about 5 pounds. Buyers can choose among the Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT operating systems.
In an attempt to more effectively match the varying requirements of the home market, IBM JAPAN LTD. has revamped parts of its Aptiva line of desktop PCs. For people looking for a basic, low-cost machine, the company has the Aptiva 133. It uses the less expensive 233-MHz AMD-K6- 2 chip from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. and eliminates such otherwise standard software programs as Word, Excel and Outlook, thereby allowing IBM Japan to keep the mail-order price at only $1,100 without a monitor. Adding the software raises the price to $1,300, while buying a TFT display ups the cost for the Aptiva 133 to $3,000. For the home buyer who wants tons of software as well as all the multimedia bells and whistles and other high-end features, IBM Japan put on the market the three-model Aptiva 443 series. Costing between $1,700 and $2,700, these products offer among other things voice-activated operation with ViaVoice.
With the release of a localized version of Windows CE Handheld PC Professional Edition Version 3.0 by MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary, a number of competitors, both Japanese and American, announced forthcoming personal digital assistants (as they are known in Japan) utilizing the new operating system. Whatever they are called, these products are starting to fudge the line between mininotebooks and handheld devices. For instance, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s Jornada 820, which will go on sale in late March, has a fairly large LCD display with a VGA resolution of 640 x 480 and a substantial amount of internal memory. An obvious difference between the two types of products is the limited amount of storage in the PDAs because they have no hard drives. The prices of these devices also are starting to approach those of mininotebooks. The Jornada 820 costs about $1,300, although that does buy 21 hours of continuous operation.
American vendors should find a more receptive market in Japan for true PDAs, also called personal organizers or personal companions, now that Japanese-language support is available for all handheld products based on 3COM CORP.'s popular Palm Computing platform, which include the PalmPilot Professional and the Palm III. The localization effort extended to the HotSync synchronization technology as well as to the open- architecture Palm OS software. 3Com's subsidiary will put on the market Japanese-enabled Palm Computing organizers. So will IBM JAPAN LTD., which is reselling the PalmPilot as the WorkPad 8602-30J. Its 6-ounce product, which has 4 MB of DRAM and 2 MB of flash memory, is priced at $425. Both companies' organizers will be going up against SHARP CORP.'s entrenched Zaurus PDA.
Market newcomer NETSCREEN TECHNOLOGIES INC. tapped SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. to distribute its products for the network security market. The Santa Clara, California firm says that its NetScreen-100 and NetScreen-10 are the first solutions that combine firewall, virtual private network and traffic management functionality on a single, dedicated hardware platform. The compact, rack-mountable NetScreen acts as a bridge between networked client servers, PCs and industry- standard routers in corporate LAN (local area network) environments.
The subsidiary of network file server heavyweight AUSPEX SYSTEMS, INC. has rolled out a new line of network-attached storage products. The flagship of the Auspex 4Front family is the NS2000, which can scale to accommodate more than 5,000 users working in Unix or Windows environments. The DataXpress architecture incorporated in the NS2000 distributes the network file access and data delivery workloads to multiple, dedicated processors that are individually optimized for network, file, storage and system administration functions. That technology, claims the Santa Clara, California manufacturer, delivers higher data availability and faster access to shared data than traditional servers while also reducing administrative costs through network data consolidation. The Auspex 4Front family includes the AS200, which supports as many as 200 users in technical workgroup settings, and the AS100 for support of 10 to 50 users in remote locations.
To speed access to data, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced the HP NetServer Rack Storage/12FC, a mass storage enclosure that supports Fibre Channel host connection and Ultra2 SCSI disk drives in a rack- mounted configuration. This product is priced at $11,100. A FCArray disk array controller card goes for $7,900, while the FC Hub, which provides centralized Fibre Channel-arbitrated loop interconnection, lists at $5,300. A Fibre Channel host bus adapter card costs $2,500.
Backup and restore products designed specifically for PC workstations are now available from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. in addition to its solutions for PC servers. The four models making up the HP Colorado Backup II family range in price from $1,200 to $2,200. All use DAT (digital audio tape) drives. .....Meanwhile, NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. is marketing two backup systems that can store 20 GB of compressed data per tape using IMATION CORP.'s Travan NS20 technology. The N2000TRV for internal or external installation starts at $1,200, with the tape itself costing $65, while the N2600TRV, an autoloader that can handle up to six tapes, goes for $3,400.
Audio and video editing professionals have a more affordable but higher performance storage solution from AVID TECHNOLOGY, INC.'s subsidiary. The Avid MediaDrive rS Plus is available with 9 GB of capacity for $5,600 or double that for $9,400. These products use the fastest drive technology on the market 10,000 rotations per second rather than more common 7,200-rpm drives. The higher data transfer rate that results means that fewer drives are necessary to achieve higher resolutions. An 18-inch (viewable image size) TFT flat-panel display is on the market from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary. The Compaq TFT8000 supports wide-angle viewing both horizontally and vertically at 160 degrees as well as 16.7 million colors in SXGA (1280 x 1024) resolution. Moreover, the thin unit takes up less than half the space of a 21-inch CRT monitor and weighs 70 percent less. People who find the $4,000 price tag for this cutting-edge technology too steep can wait for Compaq's 15-inch model. While incorporating the advanced features of the TFT8000, it will cost just $1,600.
In a development tie-up that could create a new generation of flat-panel displays for a range of products, EASTMAN KODAK CO. has agreed to license its cutting-edge organic electroluminescence technology to SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. Displays incorporating this technology promise to be brighter, thinner and more energy-stingy than today's LCD displays. The partners expect to have monochrome passive organic EL displays on the market by the second half of 2000; they will be designed for car navigation systems, PDAs and cellular phones. Full-color active-matrix displays for digital still cameras and digital videocassette recorders could follow in 2001. Kodak will provide organic EL materials to Sanyo Electric, which will use its expertise in making flat-panel displays to come up with driver ICs for the new displays. The Japanese electronics company will manufacture the displays and market them under its brand name. However, Kodak and Sanyo Electric say that they plan to aggressively license their codeveloped organic EL display technology to other firms.
At the same time, PIXTECH, INC., the main promoter of field-emission technology for flat-panel displays, has launched a joint development project with a Japanese company described only as one of the world's largest makers of CRTs. The goal of the program is to develop a 15-inch "flat CRT" prototype for multimedia desktop computer applications using the Santa Clara, California firm's field-emission technology and its partner's CRT expertise. PixTech already has demonstrated several prototypes of the first 15-inch FED color display. Under a late 1997 arrangement, its exclusive Japanese representative is SUMITOMO CORP.
At the end of April, IBM JAPAN LTD. will start shipping a 40-page-per- minute network laser printer. The IBM InfoPrint 40, the new high end of that line, is PostScript 3-compatible and can make clear copies of photographs and other graphic material. It will list at $4,300.
The HP DesignJet line of large-format printers from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has two new, fast members. The HP DesignJet 1050C and the HP DesignJet 1050CM can print an A1/D-size color line drawing in 45 seconds with a resolution of 600 dots per inch. The black-and-white print resolution is 1,200 dpi for near photo-quality graphics. The HP DesignJet 1050C costs $11,000, while the HP DesignJet 1055CM, which is PostScript 3-compatible, is priced at $16,200. HP Japan is projecting combined sales of 3,600 units a year.
A rear-projection product line developed by VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. is using the SoftBoard Model 301 from MICROFIELD GRAPHICS, INC. as the interactive user interface. The Portland, Oregon manufacturer's system has a 67-inch interactive high-gain screen that allows computer and video images to be projected from the rear. Its laser scanning technology and electronic pen design also enable the user to interact directly with the projected software. Microfield is represented by SORD COMPUTER CORP.
Buyers of APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s iMac and Power Macintosh G3 machines have a two-year head start on PC users in terms of speedier connections with peripherals. That claim is based on the fact that the company is building USB (universal serial bus) medium-speed interconnection technology into every iMac and both USB and the high-speed FireWire (the IEEE 1394 standard) technology into its Power Macs. In response, 130 USB and 22 FireWire products have been released in Japan for the Mac. The FireWire devices include digital still cameras, digital camcorders and digital VCRs as well as high-performance scanners, disk drives and printers.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Factory outlet mall operator CHELSEA GCA REALTY PARTNERSHIP LP and partners MITSUBISHI ESTATE CO., LTD. and NISSHO IWAI CORP. will open their first outlet mall in the summer of 2000 in Gotemba, Shizuoka prefecture (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 12). The first of what could be 10 such malls will be built on land leased from ODAKYU ELECTRIC RAILWAY CO., LTD. In this early planning phase, the Gotemba mall is expected to have between 215,300 square feet and 269,100 square feet of floor space. Roseland, New Jersey Chelsea GCA and its partners hope to attract 60 to 70 tenants, most of them selling brand-name merchandise at a discount.
A real estate investment fund established last fall by COLONY CAPITAL, INC. and KENNEDY-WILSON INC. was the highest bidder for RECRUIT CO., LTD.'s office building in Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture. The price of the 20-story building, completed in 1988, was not disclosed but was estimated to be in the $85.5 million to $94 million range. The two Los Angeles companies technically bought the income rights to a real estate investment trust set up by YASUDA TRUST & BANKING CO., LTD. ORIX CORP. lent the pair the majority of the money needed to finalize the deal. One of its affiliates will manage the building.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
A decade after it established a company with JAPAN STORAGE BATTERY CO., LTD. to market uninterruptible power supplies, EXIDE ELECTRONICS GROUP, INC. sold its share of GS-EE CO., LTD. to its partner. The Raleigh, North Carolina manufacturer did not state explicitly why it ended the joint venture, which sold UPS products made by both companies. Over the years, however, Exide Electronics formed a number of distribution relationships in Japan, and its involvement in GS-EE might have caused some problems for the other arrangements. GS-EE will remain a distributor of Exide Electronics' UPS products for workstations, servers and other network devices.
A flywheel system developed by BEACON POWER CORP. for maintaining power for communications services during brownouts or blackouts will be evaluated by KOBE STEEL, LTD. The steelmaker also will oversee field trials of the 20C1000 Cable/Telecom Flywheel System by local telephone, CATV and wireless providers. Beacon's system, which is made of composite materials and can provide 1 kilowatt of continuous power for up to two hours, has several advantages over the batteries normally used to provide backup when power is interrupted. For one thing, its useful life of roughly 20 years is more than twice that of batteries because it contains no parts that can wear out. Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Beacon is majority-owned by SATCON TECHNOLOGY CORP.
Sales of POWER EFFICIENCY CORP.'s Power Commander motor controller have started. About a year after it began to investigate the Japanese market, where electricity costs are high, the Hackensack, New Jersey company signed up HANEDA & CO., LTD. of Nagoya as its distributor. The solid-state Power Commander can cut power consumption for three-phase induction motors by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent under the right circumstances, which include a variable load but a constant motor speed. Among the major applications are elevators, escalators, conveyers and machine tools.
SUMITOMO 3M LTD. has developed and put on the market two types of electrical conductive tape that can control electromagnetic interference within the range of 30 MHz to 1 gigahertz. The aluminum tape, which is designed to shield disk drives and LCD components, costs about $37 per square yard. Its cloth counterpart is priced around $145 per square yard. Sumitomo 3M believes that its anti-EMI tape can produce $2.6 million in sales the first year.
A big but unnamed manufacturer of audio systems is the first local company to place a substantial order for surface-mount components incorporating SurgX electrostatic discharge protection. This technology is owned by Fremont, California-based ORYX TECHNOLOGY CORP., which licensed it to IRISO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. in November 1997. The contract covers 300,000 ESD-protected discrete components a month, but the volume is expected to expand as other parts of the contracting company adopt the technology. Iriso currently can turn out 5 million units a month utilizing the SurgX technology; however, it plans to increase monthly capacity to as much as 100 million units before the end of 1999.
WOODHEAD INDUSTRIES, INC., a supplier of communications and connectivity products for the factory floor, has identified more business in Japan as key to its ability to double sales by 2002. The Northbrook, Illinois company has had a marketing subsidiary in Yokohama since 1996. It handles all three Woodhead brands: SST, a line of products for more than 40 industrial communications protocols; Brad Harrison, which encompasses quick disconnect connectors, multiport interconnection systems and sensor actuator bus systems; and mPm. Although capital spending is off in Japan, Woodhead is optimistic about sales there because its products help to boost productivity.
A CD-recordable copier manufactured by MEDIAFORM CORP. of Exton, Pennsylvania is being sold by IMATION CORP.'s subsidiary. The CD-2701 CD-R copier automatically duplicates up to 50 CD-Rs at a time completely unattended, with failed recorded CD-Rs separated from successful media. The $7,400 system can be used as well to make small numbers of copies of multiple masters. The CD-2701 also is said to be one of the few CD-R stand-alone copiers that lets the user copy and verify on the same machine.
Big speaker manufacturer BOSE CORP. continues to expand home-theater choices for Japanese consumers. Its latest product is the American Sound System or AMS-1, a compact system that also is priced more affordably at $850. A MiniDisk recorder, the MDA-8, is a $495 option.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Despite a proliferation of transpacific alliances over the last year or so, the asset-management expertise of American financial services providers still is in demand in Japan. One of the latest tie-ups brings together the investment management affiliates of METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO., the number-two American life insurance company, and ASAHI MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO., the fifth-largest Japanese life insurer. Boston-based NVEST COS., L.P. will take a 49 percent interest in a company to be formed in June with ASAHI LIFE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CORP. to provide investment management services to institutional and individual Japanese investors. Technically, the joint venture will manage assets for ALIMCO and Asahi Life, but in reality, Nvest, which had $135 billion in assets under management at the end of 1998, will perform much of this work. The unnamed new company also will manage ALIMCO and Asahi Life investment products for the pension market. Once deregulation gives life insurers the right to handle a wider range of investment vehicles, the pending partnership will develop, manage and market investment trusts (Japanese-style mutual funds) for Asahi Life. In the meantime, MetLife and Asahi Life will explore other opportunities for collaboration.
Building on an existing relationship with YASUDA FIRE & MARINE INSURANCE CO., LTD., Los Angeles asset manager THE TCW GROUP, INC. will acquire a 30 percent stake in the number-two property and casualty insurer's YASUDA KASAI GLOBAL ASSET MANAGEMENT CO., LTD. subsidiary. The cost of this transaction was not disclosed. TCW also will provide selected investment products and research services to YKAM, which has about $7 billion in assets under management, to help it expand its institutional and retail asset management business. TCW already manages a $100 million mortgage-backed securities mutual fund for YKAM and recently was tapped to manage two new investment trusts that its partner plans to launch as well as some money for Yasuda Fire & Marine Insurance. TCW manages more than $50 billion in largely institutional assets.
Hoping to capitalize on the recent interest in Japanese stocks, five local securities companies have started marketing growth stock and small-cap investment trusts developed and managed by FIDELITY INVESTMENTS JAPAN LTD. The brokers are OKASAN SECURITIES CO., LTD. and four smaller rivals: COSMO SECURITIES CO., LTD., JAPAN INVESTORS SECURITIES CO., LTD., MARUSAN SECURITIES CO., LTD. and YAMATANE SECURITIES CO., LTD.
NIKKO SALOMON SMITH BARNEY LTD. is in business. The company, announced last June (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 15), is 49 percent owned by SALOMON SMITH BARNEY INC., which now is part of CITIGROUP INC., with the balance held by NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. NSSB took over the number-three Japanese brokerage house's investment banking and institutional trading operations, freeing Nikko Securities to focus on its retail business. Salomon Smith Barney folded into the 1,100- employee company almost all of its Japan-based investment banking and securities operations. Although the American firm is the minority partner, analysts expect it to be the main decisionmaker.
Year-old GE CAPITAL EDISON LIFE INSURANCE CO., which took over all new policy writing from TOHO MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 342, March 1998, p. 15), has opened a service center in Yokohama. The new office is in charge of underwriting and claims processing as well as operating the company's data base system. A call center will be added in the future to handle direct marketing.
GE CAPITAL CONSUMER FINANCE CORP., one of three consumer finance companies that GE CAPITAL CORP. owns, has decided to outsource its credit-card operations to CREDIT SAISON CO., LTD. The big consumer credit firm will handle all back-office functions, including applications and debt collection, thereby freeing GE Capital Consumer Finance to focus its resources on promoting a new credit card. Customers of GE Capital's other subsidiaries in Japan, including GE CAPITAL EDISON LIFE INSURANCE CO., LAKE CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 15) and KOEI CREDIT K.K., provide a ready-made marketing target. Credit Saison also operates the card-card business of AIC CORP., the subsidiary of Dallas-based ASSOCIATES FIRST CAPITAL CORP.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Country Morning Granola, a KELLOGG CO. cereal, is now available in Japan. AJINOMOTO CO., INC. is handling sales. An 8-ounce box costs about $3.45. Kellogg's subsidiary is aiming its promotional campaign at health- conscious women in their 20s and 30s.
From June, COCA-COLA CO.'s subsidiary will work with MEIJI MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. to make and market chilled Minute Maid juices. Minute Maid is a Coca-Cola brand. The pending partners believe that sales could total as much as $85.5 million in the first year. The American firm will devise the marketing strategy for the new products, while Meiji Milk will be in charge of production, distribution and sales. Some of Coca-Cola's 17 independent bottlers currently produce Minute Maid products in cans and bottles.
The only winery in downtown Los Angeles, SAN ANTONIO WINERY, is selling its value-oriented label, Kinderwood, through SAPPORO BREWERIES LTD. Kinderwood red and white wines are priced around $8.50 a bottle. The winery, which is better known for its Maddalena wines, hopes to sell 20,000 12-bottle cases in the first year of its tie-up with Sapporo.
ANHEUSER-BUSCH COS., INC.'s subsidiary is marketing Budweiser Fine Malt, an all-malt beer that has a 5.5 percent alcohol content. Brewed at the company's Los Angeles factory, Budweiser Fine Malt is available in 12-ounce cans and bottles for $1.85 each and in a 16-ounce can for about $2.35.
The first QUIZNO'S Classic Subs restaurant opened at the Yurakucho train station in Tokyo's Ginza area. Denver-based franchiser QUIZNO'S CORP. has projected that as many as 300 outlets could be opened in the next 10 years (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 17).
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
One of the world's leading makers of machines and tooling for the production of gears now has a wholly owned sales and service organization in Japan. GLEASON CORP. acquired for cash the 80 percent of OGA CORP. that it did not own already from bankrupt OKURA & CO., LTD. and other shareholders. The Rochester, New York manufacturer bought its initial 20 percent interest in 1994. OGA has four marketing bases around the country.
DISCFLO CORP., which makes an innovative line of disc pumps for what it calls the hard-to-pump market, has named fellow pump maker NIKUNI CORP. of Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture to market its products as the DF Series. Disc pumps use the principles of boundary layer and viscous drag. Together, they create a powerful force that "pulls" a fluid or other product through the pump without it touching any moving part. The types of fluids that disc pumps can handle include highly viscous fluids, slurries with a high solid content, abrasive fluids and large and/or stringy solids. El Cajon, California-based Discflo makes its disc pumps in a range of configurations, such as in-line, close-coupled, frame-mounted, sump and submersible.
Hoping to capitalize on its position as a Tier-1 supplier of ergonomically designed materials-handling systems to the North American assembly operations of three of Japan's automotive makers, KNIGHT INDUSTRIES has moved into the Japanese market. The Auburn Hills, Michigan manufacturer already has an $8.6 million contract to supply pneumatic balancers and overhead enclosed track rail systems to TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. Its exclusive distributor, automation systems maker THING TECH CO., LTD. of Aichi prefecture, is in the process of delivering and installing this equipment. Thing Tech also is developing distribution channels to boost sales. Knight's other Japanese automotive customers are HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD.
The subsidiary of Clinton, North Carolina-based SCHINDLER ELEVATOR CORP. has introduced its cutting-edge SchindlerMobile elevator to the local market. Among the unique features of this product is that the car is a self-propelled vehicle, which eliminates the need for ropes and pulleys. Moreover, in a space- and cost-saving move, all the equipment that typically is found in an elevator machine room is integrated into the car. In another difference, the SchindlerMobile is an integrated system, with its car inside self-supporting shaft columns that are said to virtually eliminate structural forces to the building.
With the aging of Japan's population expected to expand the demand for home elevators, OTIS ELEVATOR CO. and MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. have codeveloped a space-saving, energy-efficient model to cater to this market. The shaft area required is about 20 percent less than existing home elevators, while the unit's permanent magnet motor reportedly can cut electricity costs roughly in half. The subsidiary of the world's largest maker of elevators plans to produce 2,000 of the $20,100 elevator a year; MEI will handle sales.
A compact model has been added to the new line of hydraulic excavators marketed by SHIN CATERPILLAR MITSUBISHI LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 19). With its reduced tail-swing radius, the 8-ton-class CAT 308B CR REGA is designed for such space-constrained applications as pipe laying. Uses like that also are dictated by the 0.37- cubic-yard capacity of its bucket. The CAT 308B, which has a low- polluting, 55-horsepower engine, costs $113,500. Shin Caterpillar has forecast sales of 300 units a year.
In a worldwide introduction, 3D SYSTEMS CORP. announced the SLA 7000 Production SolidImager, the fifth generation of the Valencia, California manufacturer's equipment for concept modeling and rapid prototyping and tooling. The new system is four times faster than the current SLA 5000. Moreover, it is said to be capable of developing near production-quality parts with a superior surface finish, thanks to technical improvements that enable layers to be just 0.001 inch thick. The maximum build area of the SLA 7000 also is a larger 20 x 20 x 23.62 inches. The system incorporates 3D Systems' new and highly integrated 3D Lightyear parts preparation software, which is designed for a Windows NT operating environment, and uses a recently developed, high-speed stereolithography resin. Significantly, 3D Systems decided to discount the SLA 7000's U.S. list price of $800,000 in an attempt to boost sales to Japanese makers of vehicles, consumer electronics and other products.
The Kobe subsidiary of FOSTER WHEELER CORP., the world leader in circulating fluidized-bed steam generators, has put two new electricity- generating products on the market. The Supercritical CFB system combines the fuel flexibility and the low emissions of CFB technology with the high efficiency of supercritical steam conditions and the high responsiveness of a once-through circulation system design. The other product features the latest in Foster Wheeler innovation. The Compact CFB retains the basic characteristics of the Clinton, New Jersey company's traditional CFB but replaces the cyclone separator with a rectangular separator connected directly to the furnace. This separator design, says the supplier, minimizes capital costs and simplifies fabrication and construction.
Three ELLIOTT MAGNETEK POWER SYSTEMS, INC. gas turbines that are said to have no equal in Japan soon will be available. The Model TA 45 (45 kilowatts), Model TA 60 (60 kilowatts) and Model TA 200 (200 kilowatts) Turbo Alternator Sets will be distributed by EBARA CORP., a major minority investor in ELLIOTT CO., one of the partners in Elliott MagneTek (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 346, July 1998, p. 5). The Lexington, Tennessee manufacturer claims several advantages for the Turbo Alternator over traditional reciprocating generator sets, including a longer life cycle, greater reliability, just one-fourth the weight and size and lower pollution. Elliott MagneTek says as well that the Turbo Alternator, which can use propane, natural gas or diesel oil for fuel, not only will cost less to install and maintain but also will produce electricity at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour than most grids when used for peak shaving.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The world's largest supplier of consumables to the graphic arts industry got bigger April 1. That date marked the formation of KODAK POLYCHROME GRAPHICS JAPAN LTD. through the merger of parts of the Japan-based graphic arts businesses of EASTMAN KODAK CO. and DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC. Kodak and DIC subsidiary SUN CHEMICAL CORP. are the equal owners of Norwalk, Connecticut-headquartered KODAK POLYCHROME GRAPHICS CO., which was established at the beginning of 1998. The Tokyo company combines Kodak's Japanese graphics operations, including sales, marketing and distribution of graphic arts films, printing plates, digital proofing products, chemicals and equipment, and DIC's Gunma prefecture plate manufacturing facility. That factory has added production of thermal plates for CTP (computer-to-plate) printing solutions to its line of conventional lithographic plates. The joint venture also will handle Kodak Polychrome plates manufactured around the world. The creation of the Japanese company is expected to boost Kodak Polychrome revenues to nearly $2 billion in 1999.
METACREATIONS CORP. has licensed MINOLTA CO., LTD. to make and market a 3D digital camera incorporating the Carpinteria, California company's new MetaFlash technology. The camera, the two companies say, will enable Web developers to easily and affordably capture photorealistic 3D images for interactive use on the Internet and in other applications. MetaFlash combines a flash attachment and software that reconstructs digital pictures into high-quality, texture-mapped 3D wire-frame models, which then are outputted in the MetaStream 3D file format for transmission over the Internet. With the MetaStream client-side engine, Web users can view and manipulate the models.
An easy-to-operate, fully automatic, portable camera designed for medical and dental documentation, manufacturing, quality control, law enforcement and other uses that require close-up pictures is on the market from POLAROID CORP.'s subsidiary. The Polaroid MACRO 5 SLR (single lens reflex) camera produces photographs on Polaroid self- developing instant color film at 20 percent, 40 percent, 100 percent, 200 percent and 300 percent magnification through self-contained lenses for each reproduction size. The $840 system also has two built-in electronic flash units and a microprocessor-controlled exposure system.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
FISHER CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, INC. is one of the world leaders in process control equipment, but its market share in Japan has lagged. Now, its FISHER-ROSEMOUNT JAPAN CO., LTD. subsidiary has set its sights on gaining 10 percent of the domestic process control systems business within five years. One product seen as key to that goal is the localized version of the DeltaV scalable process control system. An all-in-one package of hardware, preinstalled software and peripherals that costs as little as $31,600, the DeltaV helps manufacturers create and operate inherently complex process control applications in a Windows NT environment. More than 1,000 DeltaVs have been shipped worldwide in the 18 months the system has been on the market, but few have been bought by Japanese petroleum, chemicals, food, pharmaceutical or other target producers because of the English-language interface. With a Japanese version available, Fisher-Rosemount Japan expects to sell about 100 DeltaV systems in the first year.
Eight years after it gave SUMITOMO CORP. marketing rights to its noncontact measuring and process control systems, PERCEPTRON, INC. ended the relationship. In its place, the Plymouth, Michigan company opened a marketing office in Tokyo. The new operation will target sales of its laser sensor-based equipment at automotive makers for in-process quality checks. Perceptron reportedly supplies 90 percent of the quality measurement equipment used by American and European vehicle manufacturers but has had little success getting its products into Japanese factories.
A new pair of wireless/portable telephone testers are on the market from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP 66309B and the HP 66309D dual- output mobile communications DC sources provide two outputs for simultaneously testing the main battery power and the battery charger circuitry while these products still are on the production line. The HP 66309B is priced at $2,700, while the HP 66309D, which has the same capabilities as the other system but includes a built-in digital voltmeter, costs $3,000. HP Japan is projecting combined first-year sales of 200 test systems.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. also is marketing the HP 622Vu Advisor, which extends the test capabilities of the HP Internet Advisor from 1.5 megabits per second up to full-rate (622 Mbps) analysis of asynchronous transfer mode equipment. The HP 622Vu Advisor starts at $34,200, but users also must invest in Internet Advisor WAN, Internet Advisor LAN- Fast Ethernet or pcAdvisor software. HP Japan has pegged annual sales of this product at 100 units.
When the merger of ARTERIAL VASCULAR ENGINEERING, INC. with MEDTRONIC, INC. is completed, coronary stents and catheters made by Santa Rosa, California-based AVE will be marketed by Medtronic's subsidiary. That change will cost AVE's exclusive distributor, JAPAN LIFELINE CO., LTD., an estimated 40 percent of its current business. Minneapolis-headquartered Medtronic is the top maker of cardiac pacemakers.
Now that PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. has regained Japanese sales and marketing rights to Genotropin from SUMITOMO PHARMACEUTICALS CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 12), the subsidiary of the Bridgewater, New Jersey pharmaceutical company has introduced the Genotropin Pen 16/40 pen-type injection system. Genotropin, a genetic recombinant natural growth hormone product, is the world's leading treatment for growth hormone deficiency.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Worried about the availability of next-generation Direct Rambus DRAM chips, INTEL CORP. has approached MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., NEC CORP. and TOSHIBA CORP. about possibly providing financing to help them ramp up production of this high-bandwidth part. Direct Rambus DRAMs, which transfer data twice as fast as today's synchronous DRAMS, are needed if PC users are to take full advantage of Intel's higher-speed processors. Toshiba seems to be the memory manufacturer in which Intel is most interested. MELCO turned down the offer. Intel already is assured of some Direct Rambus DRAM capacity through a $500 million investment in MICRON TECHNOLOGY INC. of Boise, Idaho and $100 million in funding for South Korea's SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS CO.
INTEL CORP.'s new Pentium III processor has an immediate rival in the AMD-K6-III processor with 3DNow! technology from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC.'s subsidiary. A part running at 400 MHz currently is available, while the 450-MHz implementation is sampling. Not only is the AMD-K6-III less expensive the 400-MHz version costs about $290 and the 450-MHz part is priced around $490, both in quantities of 1,000 units but, according to AMD, its product outperforms the Pentium III. The company attributes this feat in large part to its new TriLevel Cache design, an advanced cache memory architecture that boosts overall performance by providing the largest and fastest total system cache for Windows-compatible desktop PCs.
In a major endorsement of its technology, the government-funded Venture SystemLSI Assist Center has licensed for an undisclosed fee PATRIOT SCIENTIFIC CORP.'s PSC1000A Java processor core for its library of semiconductor cores. The arrangement will allow small and midsized Japanese electronics makers to design and build prototype ICs incorporating the San Diego, California firm's core without having to pay up-front licensing fees. Once companies working with VSAC launch volume production of parts based on the PSC1000A core, however, they will have to pay a license fee, plus a per-chip royalty. The 32-bit processor is targeted at cost-effective Java and Internet appliances as well as traditional embedded systems. The agreement with VSAC was worked out by Patriot in cooperation with its Yokohama distributor, REAL VISION INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 19).
In the third quarter, TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC.'s subsidiary will begin production of chipsets incorporating the company's new xStream DSP (digital signal processor) Technology. They will provide a complete system for controlling a color laser printer. Its xStream DSP Technology, TI claims, enables color laser printers to deliver complex color graphic and image outputs within seconds rather than the two minutes or more now required. It can do this because, unlike the RISC-based controllers found in today's color laser printers, TI's DSP chips excel at rendering, or converting digital graphics, text and images to color dots on a page.
In the meantime, the local unit of TEXAS INSTRUMENTS INC. is sampling the first three members of a family of low-dropout voltage regulators/supervisors that support the dual-supply voltage requirements of low-power DSPs. The TPS73HD301, HD318 and HD325 regulate 3.3 volts and a second fixed (1.8 volts or 2.5 volts) or programmable voltage in a single IC package. That capability eliminates three ICs from single-core DSP designs and even more from complex applications using multiple DSPs. Moreover, the design of the new parts is relatively simple, and the sample price is a low $3.15 per piece in quantities of 1,000 units. TI's new voltage regulators are aimed at components going into base stations for cellular phones as well as routers and other Internet-related network equipment.
The record-breaking ariel density, or amount of data per square inch on a hard drive platter, that HITACHI, LTD. achieved in its latest high-capacity 2.5-inch disk drives for notebook computers was due in part to the electronics giant's use of MARVELL SEMICONDUCTOR, INC.'s mixed-signal DSP. The Sunnyvale, California firm's 88C3100 PRML read channel family not only helped Hitachi push storage density to a new high but also was instrumental in gaining lower power dissipation, which is critical to the design of mobile computers.
Two current-gauge ICs for use in battery fuel monitors, motion control diagnostics and load current sensing of power sources are among the latest products introduced by NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s subsidiary. The LM3812, which senses current on the positive side of the load, and the LM3813, used for low-side current sensing, require no external sense elements because virtually no insertion losses occur. Moreover, they produce a direct digital output. The parts are priced at $2.75 each in lots of 100. .....NATIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CORP.'s marketing unit also is sampling a high-speed operational amplifier for communications and video applications. In addition to the fact that the CLC5665 provides low harmonic distortion to enable high signal fidelity, the part's main selling point is that it is priced roughly 40 percent less than other products in its category. The sample price is $1.90 a piece in 1,000-unit quantities.
The latest step-and-scan deep-ultraviolet lithography system from SILICON VALLEY GROUP, INC. is on the market through its subsidiary. The Micrascan III+, designed for 200-mm (8-inch) wafers, offers a number of performance enhancements on the production-proven Micrascan III. Perhaps most importantly, it can handle 0.18-micron device processes and still process 90 or more wafers an hour. The 248-nanometer-wavelength krypton-fluoride excimer laser also has a larger maximum exposure area of 34 x 26-mm, with an increased alignment accuracy of 45 nanometers. The Micrascan III+ is priced between $6.8 million and $7.7 million. SVG is optimistic about its Japan sales prospects, forecasting orders for 20 units in FY 1999 and 40 to 50 systems a year starting in FY 2000.
In a deal that no doubt will help APPLIED MATERIALS, INC. retain its ranking as the world's top supplier of semiconductor production equipment, it is shipping multiple Ultima HDP-CVD (chemical vapor deposition) Centura systems to FUJITSU, LTD. To be installed in the IC maker's wafer fabrication facilities around the world, the equipment will be used to deposit critical dielectric films on state-of-the-art chips.
Extending its support for Direct Rambus DRAM products, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced an analysis probe that allows computer designers to analyze bus transactions between the host processor and the Direct Rambus memory subsystem at speeds up to 800 MHz. The HP FSI- 60033, which was codeveloped with FUTUREPLUS SYSTEMS CORP. of Colorado Springs, Colorado, can be used with the most advanced logic analyzers that HP Japan has on the market.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Hoping to keep its sales momentum going in Japan, APPLE COMPUTER, INC. opened an on-line store that carries all of its hardware and software products. Local customers now can browse and order iMac, Power Macintosh G3, PowerBook G3 and Macintosh Server G3 computers, matching monitors and award-winning software 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The new Japanese cyber presence is Apple's eleventh virtual store targeted at a specific national audience.
OPEN MARKET, INC. has teamed with NTT SOFTWARE CORP. to develop secure on-line solutions for selling digital content over the Internet. Their initial effort involves the integration of the Burlington, Massachusetts firm's Transact 4.1 package, which takes and processes on- line orders and handles customer service duties, with NTT Software's InfoPack encryption and digital signature system. The two will target venders of books, magazines, news, still images and video that want to take the e-commerce plunge, with Open Market handling U.S. and third- market sales and NTT Software managing the campaign in Japan.
Targeting business-to-business e-commerce, NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP. and Tokyo-based INTEC INC. have agreed to develop a system to sell and buy parts, components and finished products via the Internet. Building on its experience with local electronic data interchange standards, Intec will modify Netscape's ECXpert Internet commerce exchange package. The partners have an August release date for the system. The two hope to generate first-year sales of $6.8 million and $29.9 million in the following three years. Netscape will handle marketing, although Intec will offer the new product as the core of its larger systems.
HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. (51 percent), MARUBENI CORP. (34 percent) and HITACHI SOFTWARE ENGINEERING CO., LTD. (15 percent) have formed a company aimed at providing comprehensive e-commerce systems to enterprise customers in Japan. Rather than companies buying separate front-end (customer-oriented) software and business-to-business packages and then trying to integrate them, HEWLETT-PACKARD SOLUTIONS DELIVERY, LTD. will provide soup-to-nuts solutions for customers, including HP computers, network gear, off-the-shelf software from various vendors and custom software. HP Solutions Delivery, which will work closely with HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD., has an initial staff of 50 people. It is looking for revenues of $85.5 million in the first year and 10 times that figure in five years.
Separately, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has introduced e-commerce encryption and security modules that meet the Secure Electronic Transactions standard. Developed by Santa Clara, California-based VERIFONE, INC., a HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. subsidiary, the vPOS (virtual point of sale) merchant-payment module and the vGate (virtual payment gateway) link with financial institutions combine with HP's vWallet end- user digital certificate to secure e-commerce activities from end to end.
VERISIGN, INC.'s subsidiary has begun issuing two new server security certificates designed to reassure customers that the companies they deal with on-line are up to par. The VeriSign Global Server ID not only assures people that they have logged onto a server that really belongs to the company that it says it does, but also indicates that the server meets data security standards. VeriSign's Y2K Secure Server ID, which is available free of charge, tells Web site visitors that the server will continue to operate smoothly after December 31, 1999.
To promote and support sales of its complete line of Internet software and services for consumer devices, PLANETWEB, INC. has opened a Tokyo office. The Mountain View, California company offers a full-featured Web browser, an e-mailer, an Internet chat product and a Web content filter, plus an Internet portal platform. All are designed with the minimal hardware and easy user interface requirements of consumer devices in mind, including videophones, game consoles and set-top boxes. The new office brings localized services and support to Planetweb customers in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.
SOFTWARE.COM, INC. has tossed its hat into the ring for large-scale Internet e-mail software. Its subsidiary rolled out the InterMail package, with marketing support from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. Already used by major American Internet service providers, the Santa Barbara, California firm expects the software's ability to handle e-mail from millions of users to appeal to Japanese ISPs.
Also aimed at ISPs is a new security services package from CHECK POINT SOFTWARE TECHNOLOGIES LTD.'s local operation. Provider-1 gives ISPs a unified approach to tailoring and managing secure access for business clients and their end-users, assigning each a unique policy for access control, authentication and virtual private networks. The software is tied to the Redwood City, California company's FireWall-1 security system. It is said to offer ISPs lower cost-per-customer benefits.
Operators of large networks or ISPs may be interested in server load- balancing offerings from F5 NETWORKS, INC. The Seattle company has entered into a strategic alliance with NTT INTERNATIONAL CORP. to market and support its high-availability and load-balancing software, including BIG/ip, 3DNS and see/IT. NTT International has identified businesses running mission-critical Internet, intranet and e-commerce sites as natural sales targets.
At the head of the Linux open-source operating system phenomenon, RED HAT SOFTWARE, INC. has updated its implementation of the Unix-based OS to include the new Linux 2.x kernel. The Japanese version of Red Hat Linux 5.2 includes the software on a CD-ROM, manuals, a CD-ROM full of tools and utilities and 90 days of technical installation support. The Durham, North Carolina firm has high expectations for the Japanese market since firms there are looking for both stability and economy for critical server software.
Through its subsidiary, SANTA CRUZ OPERATION, INC. has released version 7.1 of its UnixWare operating system in both English and Japanese. Addressing Unix's traditional cost disadvantage compared with the Windows NT operating system, SCO is touting UnixWare 7.1's sharply lower price and ease-of-use features, which are aimed directly at small businesses. To its Tarantella Web-enabling software, SCO added the Webtop user interface. It replaces the traditional Unix log-ins, emulators and remote client software with a Web-browser portal and "follows" a user from where ever they seek to access a UnixWare 7 server.
Seeking to prevent the balkanization of middleware for home and consumer electronics devices, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC., SONY CORP. and PHILIPS ELECTRONICS NV have agreed to connect Sun's Jini (Java infrastructure initiative), which is aimed at information devices, with the HAVi (home audio-video interoperability) standard for audio-visual equipment. The latter was developed by Philips, Sony, MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., HITACHI, LTD. and four other Japanese firms. If the project succeeds, it would be possible, for example, to control and send content to a HAVi device from a PC via an Ethernet LAN, the Internet or an IEEE 1394 connection (APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s FireWire or Sony's iLINK). Because both Jini and HAVi are evolving specifications, products embodying the connection technology are not likely to appear until the second half of 1999 at the earliest.
Stitching together broadly heterogeneous corporate information infrastructures into a seamless whole is the point of the newest releases of the MQSeries middleware family from INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. Available through IBM JAPAN LTD., version 5.1 of MQSeries for Windows NT, v2.1 for OS/390 and v3.1 WorkFlow for OS/390 provide greater load-balancing, performance and interoperability of hardware and software running under various client, server, mainframe and network operating systems.
In preparation for the release of INTEL CORP.'s IA-64 processor, known as Merced, PHOENIX TECHNOLOGIES LTD. has licensed its Ready64 foundation and connectivity firmware solution to HITACHI, LTD. and NEC CORP. Both will use the San Jose, California firm's source code, developer tools and training and consulting services to develop high-end servers and other systems based on the Merced architecture.
The market for Web application development and server software continues to heat up. APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s subsidiary has released a localized version of its award-winning WebObjects 4 package. Specially priced for academic organizations at $170, WebObjects 4's robust, object- oriented development tools allow users to create cross-platform applications without writing code and to deploy them with its application server.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. and MITSUBISHI CORP. are firing back with a hardware/software bundle marketed by the trader. HP Japan will preinstall ALLAIRE CORP.'s ColdFusion 3.0J Web application development and server software on its NetServer line of PC servers. Mitsubishi, which is the distributor of the Cambridge, Massachusetts company's ColdFusion program, has priced the package from $5,400 to $6,800. The software allows users to create Web applications in a language similar to HTML (hypertext markup language) while reportedly cutting development time in half.
Not to be outdone, San Jose, California-based UNIFY CORP. is trumpeting the concrete results obtained by SUMITOMO METAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. using its VISION AppServer and AppBuilder Web application development and server software tools. The big steelmaker quickly created a Web-based program that inventories and tracks its global computer assets, including more than 6,000 workstations, servers, network equipment, peripherals and software licenses.
Hoping to catch a ride on the Linux express, INFORMIX CORP.'s local arm has released a version of its Dynamic Server Suite Web application development system for the open-source operating system. The $1,700 Linux Edition works with the very widely used Apache Web server. It also comes ready to handle the double-byte requirements of the Japanese language.
IBM JAPAN LTD. has created Mobile Computer Agent, a virtual assistant for employees away from their desktop PCs. A user invokes MCAgent by entering a request for data on his or her mobile computer. The request then is transmitted to the user's desktop machine via a wired or a wireless channel. In turn, the desktop system queries the host server for the desired information and notifies the remote user when the information is ready. The virtual assistant handles all necessary transmission, interface, query formatting and user tracking tasks, making the process fully transparent to the user. Besides mobile computers, MCAgent is being prepared for integration into a wide range of mobile "smart" devices, such as car navigation systems.
A new client package from LOTUS DEVELOPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary extends the reach of its popular Notes/Domino groupware to pocket pagers. Pager Gateway 2.03, which is priced around $3,100, connects the Notes desktop and Web browsers to one-way and two-way pagers, allowing messages of up to 50 characters to be sent and received. The software, which installs on the Notes/Domino server, also can manage pager costs, centralize the administration of multiple types of pagers and let users decide how, when and where they receive messages.
Network administrators in Japan are enjoying a boom in software that helps them do their job. NOVELL, INC.'s local unit, for example, has added two administration tools to its popular Network Directory Services suite. Z.E.N.works 1.1 centralizes management and maintenance of desktop computers connected via NDS, while NDS for Solaris 2.0 runs on SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s Solaris operating system and simplifies administration of Solaris clients by handling all OS version-specific tasks transparently.
Santa Clara, California-based NETIQ CORP. has licensed its AppManager systems management software to HITACHI, LTD. for use in a new version of the latter's SMS suite, JP1/AppManager. The current version of the Hitachi package, JP1 v5, already is in use at more than 2,500 companies, and Hitachi expects JP1/AppManager will be just as popular. The integrated SMS will offer improved performance and reliability for Windows NT systems, including back-office, groupware and other applications. JP1/AppManager starts at $8,400 for installation on a host server and at $1,200-plus per machine for networked desktops.
To keep pace, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is developing new sales channels for its OpenView SMS. Its goal is to boost sales of the software by as much as 40 percent in 1999. HP Japan will establish three distributor teams separate from existing hardware-related channels. Ten Gold Resellers, including MITSUI & CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP., will focus on large corporate accounts; CSK CORP., NTT DATA CORP. and three other Gold Integrators will offer major firms both software and systems integration services; and 30 resellers will concentrate on sales to small and midsized businesses.
A new network management program from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. brings resource allocation tools to server pools that previously were available only on mainframes as well as allows administrators to wring the maximum performance from their servers. Priced at $4,700, Solaris Resource Manager 1.0 lets administrators ration CPU time, memory space and peripheral processes to applications, groups and individual users. Not only does this guarantee that critical tasks always have access to the requisite resources, but it also gives administrators the tools to make sure that server capacity is utilized fully at all times.
HP OpenView Service Simulator for Networks, on the market through HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD., is a simulation and design application that accurately predicts the impact of network and application changes in a dynamic environment. The $27,400-and-up software allows IT managers to deploy network-centric applications with confidence, choose and implement new network technologies, prepare networks for more users, create attainable network service level goals and reduce the risk of network service disruptions. HP Japan aims to sell 300 units in the initial year of marketing.
The marketing unit of MERCURY INTERACTIVE CORP. has released a localized version of its Sunnyvale, California parent's new network load- testing software. LoadRunner 5, which is priced between $42,700 and $51,300, predicts system behavior and performance by emulating the demands of thousands of users. Mercury Interactive expects demand to grow for LoadRunner as firms in Japan integrate customized programs, enterprise resource planning, e-business and legacy software and hardware into unified corporate information infrastructures.
A very Japan-active NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC. has selected NETSERVE INC. of Tokyo to handle distribution and sales of its Sniffer Total Network Visibility package. Sniffer TNV 3.0 offers advanced network monitoring and troubleshooting tools that can help administrators ensure the availability and the performance of critical applications and e-commerce servers. .....Separately, NETWORK ASSOCIATES, INC. has joined the bandwagon behind Linux. The Santa Clara, California company's subsidiary has released a version of its popular Cyber Cop Scanner for Linux, bringing top-flight security monitoring and vulnerability testing to the open- source OS. The network security utility is priced at $1,900 for a 26-node license.
Rival SECURE COMPUTING CORP. of San Jose, California has opened a second distribution channel for its network security products. VERTEX LINK CORP. joins MITSUI & CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 22) in marketing and supporting FireWall for NT, which costs $2,600 for a 25-user license, and SecureWire, a Web-page content-filtering software.
In tandem with the release of a new version of OS/2, SYMANTEC CORP.'s operation rolled out Norton AntiVirus for the updated operating system. The new utility takes advantage of the OS's enhancements. It also is Web- savvy while costing just $40 per license for 25 to 99 licenses.
To meet the demands of safeguarding corporate data growing at exponential rates, VERITAS SOFTWARE CORP. developed Global Data Manager for its popular NetBackup data-protection and recovery suite. GDM, which is priced from $8,000, allows administrators to manage globally distributed data resources, called storage domains, from a single console. Each storage domain consists of a NetBackup master server and one or more media servers.
In front-office software, BROOKTROUT SOFTWARE INC. and NISSHO IWAI INFOCOM SYSTEMS CO., LTD. have expanded their tie-up for developing computer telephony integration solutions. The Southborough, Massachusetts firm will contribute its rapid development platforms for CTI, while its partner brings to the table its marketing expertise and systems integration skills. Nissho Iwai Infocom already has deployed several customer call center solutions based on Brooktrout's Show N Tel and ActiveCall platforms. The two plan to develop integrated voice response, call direction, unified messaging and other data-integrated telecommunications solutions.
In May, the marketing unit of ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL CORP., one of the originators of automatic call distribution software, will release a Japanese version of its Transcend customer call management application. Based on the Costa Mesa, California firm's Spectrum ACD, Transcend melds ORACLE CORP.'s Universal Data Server with an open customer call management system that works with DIALOGIC CORP.'s CT Media middleware. Running on Windows NT, Transcend brings call management technology used by Fortune 500 firms within the reach of smaller companies and workgroups. Rockwell has priced the localized version of Transcend from $59,800. It expects to sell 300 copies in 2000.
LHS GROUP INC. and two Japanese partners have a contract to deliver a customer care and billing package to SATELLITE PHONE JAPAN LTD., a Tokyo-based mobile satellite communications consortium. Based on LHS's BSCS engine, the custom installation is a product of the Atlanta firm's Hong Kong outfit, NTT DATA CORP. and BUSSAN SYSTEMS INTEGRATION CO., LTD., a MITSUI & CO., LTD. subsidiary. The software will be used to manage local subscribers to the satellite-based services of ICO GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS. These services, to be launched in 2000, will support a new generation of pocket-size mobile phones that allow users to make and receive calls any time, anywhere in the world. Satellite Phone Japan is the fourth-biggest shareholder in ICO Global Communications.
Back-office software choices are multiplying at a fast clip. SEAGATE SOFTWARE, INC.'s subsidiary, for example, released a new version of its near-industry-standard on-line analytical processing and report generation package. Seagate Crystal Reports 7 allows people to use ad hoc queries of corporate information resources to generate reports, interactive graphs and maps, and convert legacy reports all via the Web.
The list of firms porting their products to the Linux open-source operating system continues to grow. INTERBASE SOFTWARE CORP., now part of Scotts Valley, California-headquartered INPRISE CORP., has updated its namesake embedded data base program for the latest release of RED HAT SOFTWARE, INC.'s Linux. The $425 InterBase for Linux 5.11 offers rich data types, event alerts, Java-compatibility and an inherently distributed architecture as well as the stability and the speed associated with Linux. .....In a related move, INTERBASE SOFTWARE CORP. issued an updated version of its relational data base for the Windows family of operating systems. InterBase 5.5 for Windows 95/NT is aimed at small businesses and workgroups based on its peer-to-peer server architecture. INPRISE CORP.'s subsidiary priced the package at $425.
NCR CORP.'s operation has released a version of its Teradata relational data base management software for the Windows NT operating system. The port brings both decision-support capabilities and data warehousing tools to the popular OS. NCR hopes that the extension will push sales of Teradata well beyond its original Unix customer base, even though the software's pricing start at $34,200.
The subsidiary of Cary, North Carolina-based SAS INSTITUTE INC. is touting the ability of its Data Warehousing Solution to build corporate data marts. Base SAS, SAS/ACCESS, SAS Scalable Performance Data Server, Multidimensional Database Server and SAS Tables data repository can be woven together to create a state-of-the-art data mart for prices beginning at $32,500.
ORACLE CORP.'s subsidiary is marketing new versions of its RDBMS and related client software designed specifically to service remote, mobile users. The Oracle Lite 3.5 data base for PDAs and other handheld computers, which costs $330 for a single license, and the Mobile Agent 3.0 data replication and synchronization program combine to deliver the full power of a corporation's IT infrastructure to employees in the field. The software is integrated tightly with the Oracle8i Internet information management platform.
Sunnyvale, California-based HYPERION SOLUTIONS CORP. chose CSK CORP. to handle distribution, sales and support of its financial accounting and management package. Hyperion Enterprise accepts transaction information gathered from global operations, creates general ledgers in near real time and allows executives to analyze business trends. CSK officials expect the software's ability to integrate with enterprise resource planning programs to lead to sales to 250 companies worth $4.2 million in the first year.
Under a nonexclusive agreement, PEREGRINE SYSTEMS, INC. has handed the task of developing sales, support and service channels for its systems infrastructure management applications to MITSUBISHI CORP. The San Diego, California company's software includes ServiceCenter, a service desk suite, AssetCenter, an investment portfolio management module, and SPAN FM, a system for managing real estate and facility assets. Mitsubishi already has prepared a localized version of ServiceCenter 2.1 and plans rollouts of Japanese versions of other Peregrine modules in the near future.
By reducing the cost of enterprise resource planning solutions to $341,900 from an average of $854,700, the subsidiaries of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and J.D. EDWARDS & CO. hope to land as many as 20 new customers a year among midsized firms. For the price, Compaq will load Edwards' ERP software, an accounting package from an affiliate of ARTHUR ANDERSEN LLP and various forms and data base templates on a Windows NT server. Also included in the price is installation, which could take as little as four months rather than the typical six months to a year, and support.
IBM JAPAN LTD. and NTT DATA CORP. have decided to link their fortunes in the ERP market. They will integrate IBM Japan's SCORPIO/PRM supply chain management solution with NTT Data's SCAW-CIM v3.2 manufacturing control package, creating an ERP solution with features that appeal to producers of a wide range of goods. The two promise that their integrated package will help reduce input costs, lower waste and speed product delivery.
JON GOLDMAN ASSOCIATES, INC. and semiconductor production equipment manufacturer TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. have joined forces to develop diffusion furnace control software. By integrating the Orange, California firm's TrendViewer 2000/SPC Administrator software with TEL's WAVES and Advanced Group Controller furnace programs, the partners will produce state-of-the-art diffusion furnace software that can gather and analyze production data trends in real time while still being easy to use. JGA's package reveals subtle process changes, equipment variations and equipment degradation by viewing their behavior over multiple runs. At the same time, it gives users great flexibility in setting the criteria to be monitored from run to run and tool to tool.
Under a multimillion-dollar contract, HONEYWELL INC.'s Honeywell Hi-Spec Solutions unit will provide manufacturing control software for two KOA OIL CO., LTD. refinerie, including one in Osaka. Honeywell Hi-Spec's second-generation Profit Controller software with Robust Multivariate Predictive Control Technology will form the core of the project, but it will be custom-fit to Koa Oil's needs by the Phoenix, Arizona operation with the help of longtime Honeywell partner YAMATAKE CORP.
With the assistance of distributor INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD., product data management software heavyweight STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS RESEARCH CORP. has landed two major customers for its Metaphase Enterprise software. TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. signed a multiyear contract expected to be worth more than $15 million to deploy Metaphase Enterprise as part of the electronic document interchange system it uses to deal with its suppliers around the world. The software will be deployed over several years. For its part, OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD. is using SDRC's Metaphase Enterprise package to speed the development and boost the quality of its full line of communications products.
J.D. EDWARDS & CO.'s subsidiary will introduce a product engineering automation solution for build-to-order manufacturers developed by Chicago-based PREMISYS CORP., which the big ERP vendor recently purchased. Premisys' CustomWorks 3.0 allows sales representatives and customers to interact with a parts/components data base, assembling the desired final product on-screen and automatically generating the necessary engineering diagrams and parts lists. Moreover, CustomWorks can be integrated with ERP and other software as well as serve as a stand-alone product.
Reflecting the financial troubles of its Rockville, Maryland parent, the Japanese arm of supply chain management software developer MANUGISTICS, INC. has reduced its staff by 20 percent to 40 people. It also will concentrate its sales efforts on makers of consumer goods. .....Far from abandoning the local market, MANUGISTICS, INC.'s subsidiary has partnered with IBM JAPAN LTD. to sell and support its Manugistics5.0 SCM solution to manufacturers. IBM Japan will bundle the software with its RS/6000 and Netfinity server lines, while Manugistics will provide technical and support consulting services. IBM Japan has a similar deal with I2 TECHNOLOGIES, INC., another top SCM software firm.
Separately, Irving, Texas-based I2 TECHNOLOGIES, INC. has licensed its Rhythm SCM solution to MITSUI & CO., LTD. for use in developing a collaborative supply and demand planning system for Japan's retail sector. Set to go live this September, the system initially will link MYCAL CORP.'s supermarket chain with distributor PALTAK CO., LTD. and supplier PROCTER & GAMBLE CO.'s local unit. The trader leads a consortium that is developing the software under contract from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Besides Mitsui, Mycal, Paltak and P&G, consortium members include NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP., FUJITSU, LTD. and the local office of PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP. i2 Technologies is the sole supplier of planning solutions to the group. Its Rhythm e-business process optimization solutions cover master planning, distribution planning, inventory planning and demand planning, all based on global decision support architecture.
In a product aimed at commercial television broadcasters, AVID TECHNOLOGY, INC.'s subsidiary has released Symphony. This uncompressed nonlinear post-production program boasts state-of-the-art tools and special effects. Although priced between $282,100 and $363,300, Symphony can replace thousands of linear tape-based, postproduction units. This means that the software not only can save money but can provide all the benefits of digital editing as well.
APPLE COMPUTER, INC.'s innovative iMac Internet computer and its Power Macintosh G3 business systems not only have helped spur computer hardware sales in general but, in addition, have excited software developers. Since the May 1998 worldwide introduction of the iMac, Apple claims that more than 1,500 new software titles have been released for the Mac OS, including 901 localized for Japan. Besides sparking new packages in its traditional areas of strength graphics, multimedia, desktop publishing and education the hot-selling iMac and G3 family have generated a bumper crop of new games, programming tools and business suites.
Big financial software developer INTUIT INC. has released an accounting package aimed squarely at the needs of small Japanese businesses. Available only in Japan and in Japanese, Yayoi (Spring) Accounting for Windows 95/98/NT is named for the season when the fiscal year ends and business results must be calculated. The turnkey system contains all the necessary tax and accounting information to take care of this onerous annual task. The package also can help entrepreneurs better manage their business and plan for the future. The Mountain View, California company's subsidiary priced Yayoi at $640.
Perennial desktop publishing powerhouse QUARK INC. can claim one victory in its battle for market share. The information and publications department of one of Japan's top printers, TOPPAN PRINTING CO., LTD., has decided to stick with the Denver firm by upgrading to QuarkXPress 4.0 from an earlier version. The win came only after Toppan rigorously tested the desktop publishing program since it will be used to support the deadline-sensitive needs of more than 1,000 customers. QuarkXPress 4.0 is fully localized, boasts the same feature set as the English edition and is available for both the Mac OS and the Windows operating system.
At the end of April, ADOBE SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary will release a Japanese-language version of its After Effects 4.0 multimedia postproduction package. At $2,500 for a full version and $1,200 for an upgrade, After Effects 4.0 gives users complete control over integrating a wide range of source materials to create motion and visual effects for film, video, multimedia or the Web.
Fremont, California-based INTERVIDEO INC. has selected NICHIMEN ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS CORP. to distribute its WinDVD player program. WinDVD decodes DVDs for playback on PCs without expensive expansion boards. Nichimen Electronic has targeted sales to PC and peripheral makers on an OEM basis. It is aiming for sales of 1 million packages a year.
With the special needs of educational institutions in mind, SYMANTEC CORP. is offering a bundled edition of its antivirus and maintenance utilities. Norton Education Suite includes tools not only to detect and eliminate harmful computer viruses but also to fine-tune the performance of both servers and client computers. The Cupertino, California firm's subsidiary has set a first-year sales goal of $3.4 million for this special edition, which starts at $850 for a 24-seat client-server license, plus support services, which begin at $270 for a one-year contract.
In a major win, SOLIDWORKS CORP. will replace all of MAKINO MILLING MACHINE CO., LTD.'s computer-aided design software with its own self- named CAD program. Working with the Concord, Massachusetts-based company's reseller and integrator, KUBOTA SOLID TECHNOLOGY CORP. Makino Milling will modernize its 150-seat design department by installing not only SolidWorks 3D CAD but also STRUCTURAL RESEARCH & ANALYSIS CORP.'s Cosmos/Works finite-element analysis program and MECHANICAL DYNAMICS, INC.'s Dynamic Designer/Motion motion simulator package. Together, the three CAD programs will allow the maker of milling machines and other machine tools to perform simulation-based design and virtual prototyping.
MACNEAL-SCHWENDLER CORP. has added three modules to its CAD suite that integrate design element analysis into basic engineering systems. The addition of MSC/Working Model, for example, helps reduce overall design times by allowing engineers to work with a virtual model that automatically reflects any changes in the CAD design. The Los Angeles company's subsidiary will handle marketing and support. It has set a sales goal of $3 million for the first year.
A component-based, 3D modeling kernel from SPATIAL TECHNOLOGY INC. is at the core of a new machining package developed by Niigata prefecture- based KURAKI CO., LTD. The Boulder, Colorado firm's ACIS 4.2 adds high- fidelity blending, shelling and free-form surfaces to Kuraki's MYPAC CAD/CAM application, which complements its line of boring and machining centers. Kuraki software engineers now are working to integrate ACIS 5.0 into the next iteration of MYPAC, which will add IGES input and tolerant modeling among other functions.
AVANT! CORP.'s Apollo suite of IC design tools has been selected as the standard electronic design automation platform by Japan's national universities, including Tokyo University, Kyoto University and Osaka University. The Fremont, California firm touted Apollo's ease of use, rapid performance and advanced features as critical to the program's use in courses covering the design and manufacture of submicron ICs.
VIEWLOGIC SYSTEMS, INC. has ported its high-speed EDA tools to the Windows NT platform, giving customers a lower-cost option than using Unix workstations. The Windows NT suite includes the XTK signal- integrity analysis module, the BLAST static-timing tool, the QUIET electromagnetic interference simulator and analyzer, the AC/Grade distributed power switching tool and the ISIS PreVUE graphical design space and interconnect planning tool. The Marlborough, Massachusetts company's subsidiary is handling distribution.
IBM JAPAN LTD. is offering some of its parent's most advanced EDA design tools through HAKUTO CO., LTD. They include the IBM BooleDozer logic synthesis tool, the IBM BoolesEye formal verification module, the IBM ClockPro clock-timing planner and the IBM PowerCalc gate-level power estimator. Hakuto has priced the tools form $256,400.
A new software package from Mountain View, California-based SYNOPSIS, INC. helps chipmakers design system chips with 50,000 or more gates, clock speeds of 100 MHz and up and line geometries measuring 0.25 micron or smaller. Developed in cooperation with MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP., Chip Architect employs a top- down approach, allowing engineers to spot system problems early in the design process.
Lithography control software developed by MICROUNITY SYSTEMS ENGINEERING, INC. is available through BEST TECHNOLOGY, INC. One of the Sunnyvale, California firm's programs calculates proximity compensation factors vital for generating correct optical lithographic masks, while another produces masks for electron-beam chipmaking gear. Pricing starts at $444,400. Tokyo-based Best Technology hopes to sell five to 10 packages a year.
Under a two-year contract valued at $10.3 million, TRW INC. will supply its event-simulation know-how to NEC CORP. It will be the core of a planning support function system that NEC is developing for the government. The electronics giant will use TRW's software tools to draw up and evaluate plans for responding to natural disasters, delivering humanitarian assistance and developing crisis contingency plans. The NEC contract is a follow-up to a 1997 bid that TRW won to develop a planning support system and a training simulation system. Both maximize the use of common software components and data inputs.
Deregulation of Japan's telecommunications market has opened the door wider for TRILLIUM DIGITAL SYSTEMS, INC. The Los Angeles company has created two variants of its Signaling System 7 for the local market, anticipating a boom in demand for telephony switches, wireless infrastructure, intelligent network and Internet telephony. By tweaking SS7 to meet the two leading technical communications standards, Trillium hopes to help customers more rapidly adapt and introduce their existing telecom products.
Start-up PIXO, INC. sees a bright future in Japan for its innovative software environment for high-volume wireless phones. Optimized for limited hardware resources, Pixo's Feature Phone Man-Machine Interface allows OEMs to develop intuitive user interfaces, avoiding the need for end-users to memorize complicated keypad sequences. Cupertino, California-based Pixo has opened an office in Tokyo to pitch its software to MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., SONY CORP. and other local phone manufacturers.
An agreement between backers of two competing digital "watermark" standards for protecting digital video content from unauthorized copying has eliminated the last major obstacle to the introduction of digital recording systems. The consensus covers one standard supported by INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. and NEC CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 347, August 1998, p. 26) and another pushed by HITACHI, LTD., PIONEER ELECTRONIC CORP. and SONY CORP. Digital watermarks, or binary code embedded in every frame of a digital recording, are invisible to the consumer but easily recognized by DVD players, expected to be the first application.
MACROVISION CORP. has introduced its SAFEDISC copy-protection scheme to publishers of CD-ROMs. The Sunnyvale, California firm's solution to preventing pirated CD-ROMs does not require any changes to existing CD- ROM players. Instead, a digital signature is embedded in a disc and a multilayer software "wrapper" secures the CD-ROM's content. Current CD- ROM recorders cannot copy and duplicate the embedded digital signature, while the software wrapper prevents hackers from circumventing the protection.
To better focus its efforts on marketing and selling software, MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary will spin off its research and development functions and its software distribution and support services into two wholly owned companies. MICROSOFT PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, LTD. will take over R&D programs not only for Japan but for other Asian countries as well. It will have about 230 employees and will work closely with headquarters in Redmond, Washington. MICROSOFT ASIA, LTD. will handle distribution chores. Microsoft is concentrating Asian production of software in Singapore and will route all software exports to Japan through Microsoft Asia.
WATERGATE SOFTWARE, INC., the developer of the popular PC-Doctor line of hardware diagnostic and software information tools, has opened a sales and support office in Tokyo. Rather than directly renting office space and hiring staff, the Emeryville, California firm has chosen to use the services of UPSIZING K.K. This Tokyo company specializes in establishing, maintaining and expanding business presences in Japan and Asia.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
The world's largest ISP, UUNET TECHNOLOGIES, INC., has formed a subsidiary the first step toward its goal of becoming the top provider of Internet services to corporate Japan. Over the next three years, the Herndon, Virginia firm plans to establish 22 access points around the country. It will link its transpacific backbone with the domestic network being built by parent MCI WORLDCOM, INC.; it also will lease capacity from local communications carriers. By the end of 1999, the UUNET subsidiary expects to have about 100 people on staff, mainly engineers. In moving into the Japanese market, UUNET will be going head-to-head with its hometown neighbor, PSINET INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 27).
American companies doing business in Japan now can take advantage of the convenience of end-to-end, full-channel, transpacific private line service. The connection is provided by AT&T CORP. in conjunction with NTT WORLDWIDE NETWORK CORP. Subscribers to the service just have to deal with one contract, one bill and one point of contact for providing and maintaining the circuit. The charge includes local access in Japan as well as the international full-channel tariff. The service supports data speeds from 56 kilobits per second up to 2.048 megabits per second, with 45- Mbps and 155-Mbps service available on an individual-case basis. NTT-WN is providing the same service to corporate Japan as part of its Arcstar menu.
In its fifth Japan business win, CIENA CORP. has a contract to supply its MultiWave Sentry 4000 dense wavelength division multiplexing product to CROSSWAVE COMMUNICATIONS INC. for its nationwide optical network. The first phase of the project produced revenues of approximately $20 million for the Linthicum, Maryland manufacturer of bandwidth-expanding multiplexers. Six-month-old Crosswave Communications, a partnership among INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC., SONY CORP. and TOYOTA MOTOR CORP., is building a data-dedicated optical network to meet the growing demand for data communications. Services will begin in April in the Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka areas and will extend across the country by March 2000. Ciena's MultiWave Sentry 4000 DWDM equipment will give Crosswave Communications a capacity of 100 Gbps at the start of operations.
Within the space of six months, STARGUIDE DIGITAL NETWORKS INC. has received two contracts from OSAKA YUSEN BROADCASTING CO., LTD., Japan's top cable audio operator, for equipment for a first-of-its-kind 2,000-channel satellite/QAM audio distribution network. The Reno, Nevada firm's initial work was on the cable head-end systems for the network. The new contract, worth more than $3 million, covers development of a 40-channel DVB audio receiver system. To be installed at Osaka Yusen's cable head-end stations, these systems will receive audio programming from the United States, Europe and Japan. Completion of the 2,000-channel network is set for the third quarter of 1999. With so many channels available and given the nature of StarGuide's digital technology, Osaka Yusen will have the option of expanding services to include satellite- delivered video programming and Internet access.
In a deal that could generate more than $10 million in revenues over the next two years, ESOFT INC., the Boulder, Colorado developer of the TEAM line of Internet connection products, named NTT ELECTRONICS CORP. as its exclusive distributor in Japan and nonexclusive distributor elsewhere in Asia. eSoft's products are designed to give small businesses an Internet presence. Each unit integrates all the hardware and software necessary to connect a company to the Internet, including a Web server, a domain name server, a firewall and remote-access capabilities.
LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s subsidiary has a June shipment date for the PacketStar IP (Internet Protocol) Switch. This intelligent Layer 3/Layer 4 WAN routing switch uses per-flow queuing algorithms to manage data into tens of thousands of dynamic IP packet flows. As a result of this innovation, Lucent says, service providers will be able for the first time to offer bandwidth guarantees, control end-to-end delay and provide multiple tiers of service. They also will be able to offer advanced IP services, such as virtual private networks and voice-over-IP telephony.
Addressing the requirements of fast-expanding corporate intranets, CISCO SYSTEMS, INC.'subsidiary is marketing a new line of high-performance, multilayer switching solutions. The Catalyst 6500 Series and the Catalyst 6000 Series are available in six-slot and nine-slot versions. Both provide support for up to 384 10/100 Ethernet, 192 100FX Fast Ethernet and 130 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Scalable switching bandwidth of up to 256 Gbps is possible with the Catalyst 6500 Series. For customers not requiring that performance, the Catalyst 6000 Series has a scalable backplane bandwidth of 32 Gbps. Typical prices are $34,000 for a six-slot Catalyst 6509 and $29,700 for a nine-slot Catalyst 6009.
Companies looking for connections for file servers, user workgroups, 10- Mbps desktop switches and shared access hubs fit the marketing profile for CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC.'s latest SmartSTACK Fast Ethernet switch. The ELS100-24TXG supports as many as 24 fully managed, wire-speed 10/100Base-TX ports, plus it has two switched Gigabit Ethernet uplinks for connecting the switch to a backbone network. A fully configured SmartSTACK Fast Ethernet switch costs $6,200.
3COM CORP.'s subsidiary is catering to the needs of businesses with less than 500 employees that want local and remote access to data, voice and video at an affordable price. The SuperStack II Remote Access system 1500 combines WAN and LAN connectivity into one box that costs $2,900 for the base module and a four-port I/O card.
Small or branch offices looking for a cost-effective way to integrate data, fax, voice and video traffic over IP or frame relay have a new option in MOTOROLA INC.'s internationally released Vanguard 6425 Multiservice Router. The compact desktop model costs $4,700. That price includes performance-increasing hardware-based encryption rather than the software-based implementation found in competitors' products.
The popularity of personal handyphone system technology may be waning, but so many of these phones exist in Japan that LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s subsidiary sees a market for a PHS-compatible version of its ProLogix PBX (private branch exchange) server for small companies. The new product, to be released this fall, will be able to connect with a company's PHS units, whether users are inside the office or in the field, as well as control the internal phones. The ProLogix platform, designed for eight to 500 phone lines, currently costs between $17,100 and $25,600.
POLYMER FLIP CHIP CORP., the driving force behind an innovative technique for forming solderless interconnect bumps for mounting inverted semiconductor chips, signed a nonexclusive technology licensing agreement with NAVITAS CO., LTD. covering the development of smart card and wireless communications devices, including radio-frequency identification products. The Billerica, Massachusetts company and its Osaka prefecture partner, a manufacturer of transfer printing machines, injection molding equipment and laminating equipment, hope to exploit opportunities for smart card and RFID technology throughout Asia. The current agreement does not give Navitas manufacturing rights to the PFC technology, although that is a possibility in the future.
The first wireless prepaid service is in operation in Japan. It is based on BriteDebit, technology developed by BRITE VOICE SYSTEMS, INC. of Heathrow, Florida, and is available as Pre-K to the nearly 800,000 subscribers to TU-KA PHONE KANSAI, INC.'s cellular service in the Osaka region. Customers simply need to maintain money in their accounts via disposable prepaid cards. Brite's longtime partner, MARUBENI CORP., helped to deliver this service to TU-KA Phone Kansai.
QUALCOMM INC., the developer of CDMA digital wireless technology, tentatively has agreed to work with MATSUSHITA ELECTRONIC COMPONENTS CO., LTD. to develop and make the new CRM3000 CDMA radio module. This extremely compact, pretested product will contain all the RF circuitry for CDMA handsets and will interface with the San Diego, California company's MSM3000 chip, thereby enabling communications equipment manufacturers to quickly design and produce CDMA subscriber products, even if they have limited in-house RF experience. Qualcomm sees the module, which should ship in late 1999, as being used not only in cellular handsets but also in smart phones, PDAs, PCs and a number of other products, including data transmission equipment. Matsushita Electronic Components brings to the prospective alliance its expertise in radio circuitry modules.
In a product launch designed to extend the usefulness of its videoconferencing equipment, PICTURETEL CORP.'s subsidiary introduced PictureTel StarCast. This streaming technology enables a videoconferencing system to function like a broadcast center. The video content generated is translated into an IP-multicast stream that any browser-enabled desktop PC on the corporate LAN then can view.
WEBTV NETWORKS INC. hopes that the start of sales of a $470 set-top box by FUJITSU, LTD. will give a shot in the arm to its lagging Japanese service, which allows people to access the Internet via their TV set. The computer maker also is offering WebTV service for $17 a month. It has a 25 percent stake in the subsidiary of WebTV, a MICROSOFT CORP. company.
Another American-affiliated company looking for the right business formula is direct-to-home satellite TV broadcaster DIRECTV JAPAN INC. It has managed to sign up only about 250,000 customers versus the 1 million-plus subscribers to SKYPERFECTV CORP.'s rival service. In an expected ownership and management shake-up (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 28), HUGHES ELECTRONICS CORP., the parent of DIRECTV INTERNATIONAL INC., upped its stake in DirecTV Japan to 42.18 percent from 31.6 percent. It did this by buying shares from video rental chain CULTURE CONVENIENCE CLUB CO., LTD., which previously also owned 31.6 percent of the company but now has a 14.5 percent interest. MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. also bought some stock from CCC. In addition, an American executive took over day-to-day management of the company. DirecTV hopes to have 600,000 subscribers by March 2000.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Beginning this fall, DESCENTE, LTD. will market a line of STARTER SPORTSWEAR, INC. clothing targeted at youth. The New Haven, Connecticut company has licensing rights to the logos associated with the North American professional baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey leagues. It gave master Japanese licensee ITOCHU CORP. the go-ahead to allow Descente, the country's top sportswear supplier, to launch this business. About 20 percent of the uniforms, shirts, training clothes and other products marketed by Descente will be imported; the rest will be made locally. The Starter Sportswear line will be available at an estimated 350 outlets, including department stores and sporting goods shops.
The subsidiary of Allston, Massachusetts-based NEW BALANCE ATHLETIC SHOE INC. has started production of a top-of-the-line running shoe, the COMP700, as well as the COMP151. Both shoes were developed specifically for the local market. The company expects to sell 10,000 pairs a year combined of the $125 COMP700 and the $110 COMP151. Marketing of these products will be focused on 100 to 150 sporting goods stores and other outlets that sell running products.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
Continuing the rollout of its 1999 right-hand-drive product line, CHRYSLER JAPAN SALES LTD. introduced the Plymouth Voyager. The LE version of the minivan has a manufacturer suggested retail price of $29,800, while the LX edition lists for $34,100. In line with recent practice, Chrysler Japan made no sales forecast for the Voyager.
For its part, FORD SALES JAPAN LTD. introduced the remodeled Lincoln Continental featuring a more powerful 4.6-liter, 279-horsepower engine and side-impact airbags. The marketing unit of FORD MOTOR CO. hopes to sell 300 of the 1999 Continental, which has a MSRP of $45,700. To help reach this goal, Ford is offering three years of free maintenance at its dealerships as well as round-the-clock road service.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.
As part of its strategy to become the number-one global supplier of products and services to concrete and cement producers, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Grace Construction Products, part of W.R. GRACE & CO., became the majority owner of its joint venture with DENKI KAGAKU KOGYO K.K. The renamed GRACE CHEMICALS K.K. sells admixtures for cement and concrete made by both partners using Tokyo-headquartered Denki Kagaku Kogyo's distribution channels. Japan is second only to the United States as a market for admixtures and ranks first in terms of admixture usage per cubic yard of concrete.
Bullet-resistant glass for vehicles and buildings manufactured by AMERICAN GLASS PRODUCTS CO. is available in Japan through NORTH GLASS CORP. The Knoxville, Tennessee company's product is composed of glass sheets and plastic films laminated together in thicknesses varying between 15 mm and 65 mm. AGP claims that its glass represents the state of the art in terms of optics and ballistic performance. Outfitting a car, truck or other vehicle with bullet-resistant glass will cost $7,700 on average. Tokyo-based North Glass, which AGP named as its distributor last October, is looking for sales of $1.7 million in the first year.
Upscale office furniture manufacturer STEELCASE, INC. has released several lines of products designed specifically for the Japanese market through its subsidiary. The new products, which are marketed by one of the Grand Rapids, Michigan company's distributors, include desks, tables and integrated modular units. Steelcase hopes that these additions to its lineup will generate sales of $4.3 million in the first year.
Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner, already available in more than 30 countries around the world, now is on store shelves in Japan. The subsidiary of BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO., the parent of CLAIROL, INC., has been marketing locally developed shampoos and conditioners, but it expects the Herbal Essences line to develop quickly into a top seller, with sales anywhere from $34.2 million to $42.7 million in the first year.
The rapid aging of Japan's population and an underdeveloped support infrastructure make that country a natural for the type of services provided by HOME INSTEAD SENIOR CARE, the largest American provider of nonmedical companionship and home-care services for the elderly. The Omaha, Nebraska company has signed a master franchise licensing agreement with PRIME HEALTH CARE CORP. The Tokyo firm expects to have its first franchises in operation in the near term. Their at-home and respite-care services will be available for as little as a few hours a week or as many as 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typical services offered by Home Instead Senior Care providers include meal preparation, light housework, transportation, errands and companionship.
The fairly new Tokyo-based facility management subsidiary of JOHNSON CONTROLS, INC. and TOKYO BISO KOGYO CORP., Japan's largest independently owned building maintenance company, have launched an integrated facility management business targeted at the commercial building market. The partnership combines Johnson Controls' technology and expertise in this field with TBK's personnel, infrastructure and customer base. The two hope to capitalize on the emerging trend among major Japanese corporations to outsource broad facility management responsibilities to a single supplier both to reduce costs and to improve building performance. Johnson Controls acquired a 34 percent interest in TBK last fall (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 30).
WAM!NET INC., which operates managed media networks for graphic arts businesses in the United States and Europe, is in the process of forming a company with SUMITOMO CORP. to market, sell and support the WAM!NET digital delivery network in Japan. The Minneapolis firm, which will be the majority owner of the self-named joint venture, helps printers, advertising agencies, prepress companies and big corporations save time and money by enabling them to transfer their large digital graphics files to their business partners in minutes via the WAM!NET network. Since December, some of Japan's top ad agencies and printers have been testing WAM!NET's digital networking services. The company is an affiliate of MCI WORLDCOM, INC.
Starting this month, the subsidiary of information technology industry tracker and analyst GARTNER GROUP, INC. will put more emphasis on providing research and consulting services for IT users. In the year through September 1998, about 70 percent of the local unit's roughly $25.6 million in revenues came from computer makers, software companies and other IT vendors. To support the new thrust, Gartner, which has some 40 analysts in Japan, will hire more people locally. With the added attention to IT users, the Stamford, Connecticut company hopes that its Japanese arm in time will contribute about 10 percent of its total revenues versus 5 percent or so currently.
An alliance between STANFORD RESOURCES, INC. and TECHNO SYSTEMS RESEARCH CO., LTD. brings together the two leaders in covering developments in the LCD business. They will develop a quarterly report that analyzes the world supply and demand situation for LCDs. The Tokyo partner, which maintains an extensive production data base, will contribute information on the supply of LCDs from plants in Japan and elsewhere in Asia, while San Jose, California-based Stanford Resources will furnish information and analysis on the demand for LCD-based products throughout the world on a regional basis.
A tie-up with TOKYU TOURIST CORP., one of Japan's five biggest travel agencies, will enable ROSENBLUTH INTERNATIONAL INC. to extend the services provided by its lone Japanese office in Tokyo. The Philadelphia firm specializes in arranging flights and accommodations for business customers while enabling clients to pay in whatever currency and way his or her company indicates. Tokyu Tourist will be able to use Rosenbluth's payment settlement system. The American company also will recommend the services of its partner to foreign corporate customers operating in Japan.
An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.