North American makers of automotive bumpers will have a new source of energy- absorbing foam cores in mid-2000. That is KANEKA CORP.'s scheduled start-up date for an $8 million plastics-molding plant in Jackson, Michigan. The company's molded- bead polypropylene and polyethylene foam, sold under the EPERAN brand name, is said to deliver superior mechanical strength, cushioning, lightweight density and energy-absorption properties. At capacity, the plant will be able to make 2,650 tons of foam a year. In the project's second stage, slated for 2001, KANEKA TEXAS CORP., which will run the factory, will build a bead-making facility to supply EPERAN beads to the molding plant as well as to other customers. At that point, the Jackson site will have about 60 employees. Kaneka Texas has made EPERAN-brand products at its Pasadena, Texas factory since 1990. The plant started operations in 1984 making polyamide film.
The latest DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. plan for becoming a bigger player in the American fluoroplastics market, particularly the water- and oil-repellant end of the business, involves the construction of a $26.5 million plant at its Decatur, Alabama production complex for repellant intermediates and closer collaboration with MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO. The time frame for plant construction has not been decided. Neither has the role of 3M. That company supplies fluoroplastics building blocks to Daikin's existing operations from an adjacent Decatur plant, but it and E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. together dominate the U.S. market for water- and oil-repellant agents. In 1997, DAIKIN AMERICA, INC. opened a technical center for repellants. It also has a major expansion underway to add capacity for tetrafluoroethylene and hexafluoropropylene, which are used to make a product for molding wire shielding (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 2).
As part of its plan for restoring profitability to consolidated operations, MARUBENI CORP. is weighing the sale in FY 2000 of its half interest in OXYMAR. The world's largest supplier of vinyl chloride monomer with an annual capacity of 1.1 million tons, the Ingleside, Texas manufacturer is a 1990 joint venture with OCCIDENTAL CHEMICAL CORP. But Houston-based MAXROY CORP., the Marubeni subsidiary that is the actual investor in the company, continues to lose money because of a global glut of VCM. Current thinking at headquarters is to sell Maxroy's share of Oxymar to Occidental Chemical and to liquidate the subsidiary.
Bottom-line considerations also persuaded MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. to sell PACIFIC WESTERN EXTRUDED PLASTICS CO. to EAGLE PACIFIC INDUSTRIES, INC. for roughly $80 million. Japan's top chemical manufacturer acquired the Eugene, Oregon maker of polyvinyl chloride pipe in October 1995. Pacific Western is the third- largest producer of PVC pipe in the United States, with six manufacturing plants in the Pacific Northwest and 1998 sales of some $200 million. Minneapolis-based Eagle is in the same business, although it is a smaller player. However, with the purchase of Pacific Western, the company becomes the number-two U.S. supplier of PVC pipe.
Developing a new family of high-performance olefin polymerization catalysts that exceed the performance of conventional and metallocene catalysts is the objective of a research collaboration between MITSUI CHEMICALS, INC. and DOW CHEMICAL CO. Both are world leaders in olefin polymerization catalysts and metallocene- catalyzed ethylene copolymers, but by working together, they expect to accelerate commercialization of catalysts with new properties. As part of the tie-up, Mitsui Chemicals and Dow will cross-license certain patents pertaining to metallocene- catalyzed ethylene copolymers. This arrangement will give each more latitude to make and market ethylene copolymers using their respective metallocene catalysts. Under it, Mitsui Chemicals will gain access to Dow's INSITE technology.
A key part of TOHPE CORP.'s strategy for returning its business to the black is to move into the American market for acrylic rubber. The Osaka prefecture company derives three-fourths of its revenues from paints, but it also makes acrylic rubber. This product, used in automotive engine seals, has greater heat resistance than nitrile-butadiene rubber and synthetic rubber. Tohpe has a team working on the development of acrylic rubber compounds specifically for the United States. It also has tied up with an unnamed Japanese marketing outfit that has strong ties to the vehicle industry. Reportedly, only three companies in the world make acrylic rubber.
Japan's number-two pharmaceutical manufacturer, SANKYO CO., LTD., says that it wants to start direct sales of its prescription drugs in the United States. Three of its major products currently are licensed to leading American pharmaceutical houses: Pravachol (pravastatin sodium), a compound for inhibiting cholesterol biosynthesis that had 1998 U.S. sales in excess of $1 billion, to BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO.; Vantin (cefpodoximeproxetil), an oral cephalosporin antibiotic, to PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC.; and Rezulin (troglitazone), a treatment for Type II diabetes, to WARNER-LAMBERT CO. The latter drug, which produced revenues of $750 million last year, is copromoted by SANKYO/PARKE-DAVIS CO., an equally owned Parsippany, New Jersey venture between Sankyo and the Parke-Davis division of Warner Lambert that was formed in late 1996 for this purpose. However, Rezulin has run into problems because it has greater side effects than two other drugs on the market for Type II diabetes (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 2). This marketing setback is one reason that Sankyo is eyeing direct U.S. sales, although that effort also would cover products it has in its U.S. pipeline. In the near term, the company hopes to expand staffing at Sankyo/Parke-Davis to 310 people or more from 210 now. In time, Sankyo plans to make the joint venture a wholly owned subsidiary.
ACTOS (pioglitazone hydrochloride), one of the drugs for adult-onset diabetes that has cut into sales of Rezulin (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, pp. 2-3), will be marketed in much of the world by ELI LILLY AND CO. The big Indianapolis pharmaceutical company comarkets the drug in the United States with ACTOS commercializer TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. Lilly will market the treatment in European and Asian countries where Takeda Chemical does not have its own sales networks as well as in Africa and the Middle East. In Europe, the Lilly markets exclude the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The United States is the only country in which ACTOS currently is approved for sale.
The Food and Drug Administration cleared for marketing Aciphex (rabeprazole sodium), a protein pump inhibitor discovered and commercialized by EISAI CO., LTD. That company's Teaneck, New Jersey subsidiary and the Titusville, New Jersey unit of JANSSEN PHARMACEUTICA, N.V., part of the JOHNSON & JOHNSON group, will comarket Aciphex for the healing of erosive gastroesophageal (acid) reflux disease, the maintenance of healed erosive GERD and the treatment of duodenal ulcers. The potential U.S. market for Aciphex is at least the 25 million people who suffer from GERD and heartburn on a daily basis. It possibly is as big as the more than 60 million who report symptoms once a month. Rabeprazole sodium was approved for sale in Japan in 1997 under the Pariet trade name. All European Union countries also have given it the marketing greenlight.
FUJISAWA HEALTHCARE, INC. has gained exclusive North American development and marketing rights to an injectable form of DISCOVERY THERAPEUTICS, INC.'s selective adenosine A1 agonist, DTI-0009, for treating cardiac conditions associated with abnormally high heart rates. Phase I clinical studies of the drug in both intravenous and oral dosage forms are just starting. DTI-0009 is similar to but more selective than two adenosine-based products that the Deerfield, Illinois-headquartered subsidiary of FUJISAWA PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. markets. It licensed Adenocard and Adenoscan from MEDCO RESEARCH, INC. Together, they had 1998 sales of $90 million-plus. Richmond, Virginia-based DTI retained foreign rights to the injectable form of DTI-0009. It plans worldwide development of an oral product for chronic treatment of atrial fibrillation.
In a first-of-its-kind arrangement, SHIN NIPPON BIOMEDICAL LABORATORIES, LTD. has a pending agreement with the University of Maryland to form a company to undertake clinical testing for companies that have submitted investigational new drug applications to the FDA. Japanese pharmaceutical manufacturers, which typically outsource clinical trials in the United States, are the prospective joint venture's primary targets. The unnamed company will specialize in the areas of treatments for osteoporosis and cerebral infarctions. Kagoshima prefecture-based Shin Nippon Biomedical, a preclinical contract research organization, will be represented in the new company through SNBL USA, LTD. of Bothell, Washington. The subsidiary is rapidly building the capability to conduct safety and efficacy testing for drug companies (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 2). A change in state law that became effective in July allows the University of Maryland to enter into commercial ventures.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Eight-way enterprise-level servers featuring the 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor and INTEL CORP.'s delayed Profusion chipset for Windows NT environments have been announced. The first company to do so was not a big-name American computer manufacturer but HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. Its initial vehicle was the VisionBase 8880R, which, deployed as a Web server, can handle more than 4 million hits per month and over 6,000 visitors a day. However, the wholly owned Santa Clara, California subsidiary of HITACHI, LTD. quickly topped itself. It announced the VisionBase 8890R, a Profusion-based eight-way server designed for companies engaged in electronic business. It not only provides mainframe-class reliability but also features design improvements to the memory architecture. These enhancements result in a memory access speed of 1.6 gigabytes per second, 23 percent faster than the competition's, according to Hitachi Data. That gain, the company notes, is critical to such memory-intensive applications as data mining, e-transaction processing, Java and Active X processing, and Web serving.
The 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor is available not just in HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP.'s enterprise-class servers but throughout its VisionBase line. In addition to the VisionBase 8890R and 8880R, the family includes the four-way VisionBase 8460, the most powerful of the company's midrange servers and designed for decision-support solutions, clustering and on-line transaction processing, and the new VisionBase 8455 as well as the existing VisionBase 8450. These two models also can be configured with as many as four 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon chips to support clustering, applications development and larger data base applications. Rounding out the server family are the entry-level VisionBase 8245/8240. Able to handle one or two 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, they are targeted at workgroups, small business applications, departmental, file, print and replicated network tasks.
Each and every product released by a financially struggling PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. has to score big in the sales department. The latest model subjected to this test is the NEC Computer Systems Division's PowerMate 2000 desktop system. A so-called microdesktop PC, this all-in-one machine has a footprint that is smaller than a notebook computer at 10.5 inches wide and 7.7 inches deep. Moreover, it weighs less than 12 pounds, thanks in large part to a 15-inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with a XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. NEC CSD paired the small form factor of the PowerMate 2000 with customization and upgradability capabilities by including two CardBus PC Card (Type II) slots and two USB (universal serial bus) connections. Available built and configured to order, a PowerMate 2000 with a 433-MHz Celeron processor, 64 megabytes of system memory, a 6.4-gigabyte hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory), 10/100 local area network connectivity and Windows 95 costs around $2,500.
PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s NEC CSD also has brought the speed enhancement of the 600-MHz Pentium III processor to its traditional PowerMate series of desktop PCs. They span two platforms. The PowerMate ES 5200, which leverages a single scalable motherboard across three chassis form factors (slim desktop, desktop and minitower) is designed for networked environments. Pricing for a PowerMate ES 5200 system with a 600-MHz Pentium III, 32 MB of random access memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive, 4 MB of video memory, 10/100 LAN and Windows 98 begins at $1,600. The other line, the PowerMate VT 300, is designed to bring mainstream performance and flexibility to value-conscious corporate customers. With the latest high-speed Pentium III engine, a PowerMate VT 300 configured the same way as the PowerMate ES 5200 except for the Ethernet/Fast Ethernet connection but including a 40X CD-ROM drive goes for approximately $1,550.
The 600-MHz Pentium III engine also is available in build-to-order Equium 7100 corporate desktop PCs from the Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. This option brings to 11 the number of processors supported by the Equium 7100 series a record for a single platform, the Irvine, California company claims. At the same time, TAIS added 17-GB and 20-GB hard drives as configuration choices for business customers with huge storage requirements.
For as little as $1,000-plus, smaller enterprises now can buy a server solution for their file, print, PC LAN and Internet requirements. That is the starting price of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. CSD's M500, the company's first entry- level server. The new system supports either the 400-MHz Pentium II processor or the 450-MHz Pentium III chip. The M500 also gives companies room to grow since it includes six input/output expansion slots and four memory expansion slots that can handle up to 1 GB of advanced ECC (error checking and correcting) dynamic RAM internal memory. Likewise, internal storage capacity can be as large as 36 GB on the M500's base model and a whopping 72 GB with the standard model.
Mobile professionals that need a rugged yet powerful machine have a new option in PANASONIC PERSONAL COMPUTER CO.'s Toughbook 37. Like it predecessors, the system has a magnesium-alloy chassis, a magnesium-encased screen and a shock- mounted hard drive. However, the Toughbook weighs just 4.3 pounds and is only an inch high. The standard configuration includes a 366-MHz mobile Celeron processor, a 12.1-inch, antireflective touch-screen TFT LCD display with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, 64 MB of system memory and a 6.4-GB hard drive for an estimated $2,700. That price also covers a drive bay that can accept the included 24X CD-ROM drive or a DVD-ROM (digital video disc-ROM) drive, a floppy disk or a second battery.
HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. tweaked the Freedom Storage 5800, which it says already is the world's fastest midrange storage subsystem, to make it even speedier and more robust. On the performance front, the addition of TurboLUN functionality enables customers to increase their transaction-processing capability by as much as 100 percent. Moreover, nearly 40 percent faster read/write times can be achieved through the installation of 18-GB disk drives that spin at 10,000 revolutions per second. The current capacity of the 5800 also can be doubled with the use of new 36-GB disk drives, which provide more than 2 terabytes of usable storage in a single rack. In another advance, the system can realize the potential of SANs (storage area networks) now or in the future, thanks to its Fabric Login capability. Pricing of the Freedom Storage 5800, which is designed for open systems environments running data warehousing, data mining or e-business applications, starts at $45,000.
Manufacturers of portable computers or compact systems requiring small, lightweight 2.5-inch drives have new choices from HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. The DK23AA family, which features enhanced giant magnetoresistive heads and signal processing technology, spans three 9.5-millimeter-height drives with capacities of 6 GB, 9 GB and 12 GB and a 12-mm-height, 18.1-GB drive, a record storage capacity for this class of products. The DK22AA line also is the first to support an ariel recording density of 10.79 gigabits per square inch. Production shipments of the four drives are scheduled for the fourth quarter.
Also in the October-December time frame, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. will release higher-capacity Memory Stick media. Designed to link and transfer information between a variety of audio, video and computer products, this flash media will be available in capacities of 32 MB and 64 MB at prices of $110 and $190, respectively. The 64-MB Memory Stick media has more than 40 times the capacity of a standard 3.5-inch floppy. Capacities of 4 MB, 8 MB and 16 MB now are on the market.
If nothing else, the fact that SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s Long Beach, California marketing subsidiary introduces new printer products virtually every month is a sign of a company bound and determined to gain share across the printer market. The latest monthly count is two-plus. That includes the EPSON Stylus Color 660, a four-color ink- jet printer for the home market that costs only $130 or so after rebate yet provides a resolution of 1440 x 720 dots per inch and a print performance of five pages per minute for black text and 3.5 ppm in color. New, too, is the $430 EPSON Stylus Color 900G for Macintosh users. It is the industry's first color ink-jet printer to support the Firewire (IEEE 1394) high-speed peripheral interface. Housed in a translucent case with a blueberry cover, the machine prints 12 ppm of black text and 10 ppm in color with a 1440 x 720-dpi resolution. The "plus" is the availability of the EPSON Stylus Pro 5000 for graphics arts and printing professionals in two configurations: with or without an external EPSON RS-5000 Fiery LX RIP (raster image processing) capability. Moreover, the price on the fully configured system has been dropped by $1,500 to an estimated $7,500, while the new standard configuration goes for roughly $3,000.
Replacement cartridges for the EPSON Stylus 440, 640 and 740 ink-jet printers are available from HITACHI KOKI IMAGING SOLUTIONS, INC. under the Dataproducts brand. The Simi Valley, California production unit of HITACHI KOKI CO., LTD. says that each of the products costs approximately 20 percent less than the average street price of the manufacturer-supplied cartridge that it replaces.
Touting it as providing the industry's lowest total cost of ownership, KYOCERA ELECTRONICS, INC. introduced the FS-9000 network laser printer for corporate or departmental settings. Among the other features highlighted by the Duluth, Georgia company are multiple paper handling options, a fast print speed (36 ppm with a resolution from 600 x 600 dpi up to 2400 x 600 dpi) and technology that allows for easier installation of network interface cards and other devices.
The Phoenix, Arizona manufacturing and marketing subsidiary of MUTOH INDUSTRIES LTD. released a pair of large format color ink-jet printers for North American original equipment distribution. One is a 38-inch, four-color model capable of printing up to 160 square feet per hour with a resolution as high as 1440 x 1440 dpi. It offers high-speed monochrome printing for film-setting applications as well as color printing that produces photo-quality poster-size images. The other machine is a 43- inch, six-color printer capable of turning out full-color images at a rate of 80 square feet per hour with the same resolution as its mate. Mutoh already has signed two OEM distribution contracts for these products.
SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s marketing unit also has four more scanners on the market. Its latest entry-level consumer product is the EPSON Perfection 610, which offers a hardware resolution of 600 x 2400 dpi for just $150. This model is designed for computers that have a USB interface, including those running Windows 98 as well as the iBook and the Power Macintosh G3. For business or graphics use, the manufacturer released three EPSON Perfection 1200 series models offering high- performance, one-button scanning with a hardware resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi, double the scanning power of conventional 600-dpi products. The EPSON Perfection 1200U features plug-and-play USB installation for iMacs, USB-ready Power Macintosh G3s and Windows 98 systems. The EPSON Perfection 1200S offers higher speeds with its fast SCSI (small computer system interface) connection to Windows, Power Macintosh and G3 systems. Finally, the EPSON Perfection 1200U PHOTO comes with a transparency unit for out-of-the-box flatbed and film scanning with USB- equipped systems. Pricing for the trio is $250, $300 and $350, respectively.
VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. is reorganizing its North American projector business in the hope of pulling it out of the red. This fall, it will establish the JVC Digital IMAGE Technology Center in Carlsbad, California, which is home to HUGHES-JVC TECHNOLOGY CORP. The center will be responsible for the development of new technologies for JVC's worldwide digital image products. Expected to begin with a staff of 50, it will absorb the ILA projector technology and services functions of Hughes- JVC. That company was formed in 1992 with HUGHES AIRCRAFT CO. (60 percent) to make high-definition liquid crystal projectors, but JVC bought out its partner in two steps. At the same time, JVC will consolidate North American projector sales, now split between JVC AMERICAS CORP. and Hughes-JVC, in its northern New Jersey subsidiary.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Industrial automation products powerhouse GE FANUC AUTOMATION NORTH AMERICA, INC. is expanding its market reach again through an acquisition. The Charlottesville, Virginia joint venture between FANUC LTD. and GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. has agreed to buy WHEDCO, INC. for an undisclosed amount. That Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company designs, develops and markets servo and stepping motor control systems for industrial automation applications. GE Fanuc Automation found Whedco's networkable controller/amplifier packages especially attractive since they will bolster its PowerMotion family of motion control systems. Last year, GE Fanuc Automation bought TOTAL CONTROL PRODUCTS, INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 5).
By breaking through the $200 price barrier and bringing portability to the MiniDisc format, SHARP CORP.'s Mahwah, New Jersey marketing unit hopes to find a broader audience for this play/record/edit device. Less than 2 inches thick and square in shape, the shock-resistant, digital MD-MT15 is rerecordable up to 1 million times. It also reproduces sound with the same clarity as the original. Moreover, users can move, erase, combine or divide tracks without rerecording the entire disc.
HITACHI, LTD. has moved into the American DVD player market with a product that it says gives the user total control over his or her viewing and listening experience. The $450 DVP250U offers such features as a fast-access disc navigation system, a digital zoom function, variable speed playback, a last play function, multiple angle viewing, still picture with frame advance and movie theater-like sound. HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. is marketing the DVD player as part of a home-theater system package.
For its part, PANASONIC CONSUMER ELECTRONICS CO. has announced MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD.'s first progressive-scan DVD player for the U.S. market, the DVD-H1000. This capability, derived from digital television, duplicates the picture quality of the movie theater. However, like high-definition TV sets themselves, gaining a theater-like experience at home with a DVD player is expensive: a suggested $3,000.
Internet access for SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD.'s much-hyped Dreamcast video game console (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 5) will be provided by AT&T CORP. Buyers of the first Internet-ca-pable gaming console, which appeared on store shelves this month, have a choice of three AT&T WorldNet plans. When the Sega Dreamcast Network on-line gaming site is launched sometime next year, players will be able to compete against each other on the Internet.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
In a major expansion of its asset management business, the U.S. banking unit of INDUSTRIAL BANK OF JAPAN, LTD. bought a 50 percent interest in ATLANTIC ASSET MANAGEMENT PARTNERS, LLC. This Stamford, Connecticut-based fixed- income money manager has approximately $4 billion under its control. With this addition, the total assets managed by IBJ WHITEHALL BANK & TRUST CO. for institutional investors and wealthy individuals moves close to $8 billion. The New York City company purchased an asset manager in April 1998 and this part of another company in May. IBJ Whitehall also provides commercial and merchant banking services to middle-market companies.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Long ago, HONDA TRADING CORP. developed a knack for discovering creative niche businesses. Its latest endeavor extends that tradition. Starting with this fall's harvest, the company will sort and bag soybeans certified as not genetically modified for export to makers of tofu and other soybean-based products in Japan. Honda Trading will build a $5.3 million processing facility on land adjacent to the HONDA OF AMERICA MANUFACTURING, INC. factory in Marysville, Ohio. The plant will be able to handle 22,000 tons of soybeans per season grown under contract by Ohio farmers. GENETIC ID INC. of Fairfield, Iowa will certify that the facility ships soybeans that are not bioengineered. Honda Trading has exported soybeans to Japan since 1988, using automotive parts containers that otherwise would go back across the Pacific empty. Its new business reflects the pending decision of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to require labeling of most soybean-based products made from genetically modified beans and the resulting upsurge in demand from processors for GM-free soybeans.
The number-three Pepsi bottling company in the United States just got bigger. Recently formed Raleigh, North Carolina-based PEPSI BOTTLING VENTURES LLC, an indirect joint venture of SUNTORY LTD. (65 percent) and PEPSICO, INC. (35 percent) (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 6), bought the Pepsi franchise in Goldsboro, North Carolina for a reported $20 million or so. PVC, which employs some 1,800 people, operates 17 Pepsi facilities in North Carolina and New York. In time, it hopes to buy the six other Pepsi bottlers in North Carolina.
SAPPORO BREWERIES LTD. sold ST. CLEMENT VINEYARDS, located in St. Helena in California's Napa Valley, and the winery's Abbott's Vineyard in Carneros to fellow premium wine maker BERINGER WINE ESTATES HOLDING INC. The Japanese brewer had bought the winery and the vineyard in 1987. It will continue to market St. Clement wine in Japan, where about 2,000 of the 20,000 cases that the winery produces each year are sold. Beringer also owns the CHATEAU ST. JEAN winery, which SUNTORY LTD. bought in 1984 and sold in the spring of 1996.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
A money-losing KYOEI STEEL, LTD. sold its 88 percent interest in the holding company that owns AMERISTEEL CORP. to Brazil's GERDAU S.A. The Osaka minimill operator bought the Tampa, Florida-headquartered company, the number-two U.S. maker of reinforcing bar and a supplier of other finished steel products for construction and industrial markets, in late 1992. AmeriSteel has four minimills and 21 downstream processing plants. Its sales run around $600 million a year. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but industry analysts guessed that Kyoei Steel got at least $300 million for its majority share.
In a deal that dated back to August 1995, KAWASAKI STEEL CORP. sold 3 million of the 8.5 million shares that it owned in integrated carbon steel manufacturer AK STEEL CORP. at a fixed price. The sale, which trimmed the big Japanese steel mill's share to 9.2 percent from 14.4 percent, raised $29.2 million. KSC's ties to AK Steel go back to 1989 when it acquired a 45 percent interest in ARMCO INC.'s spun-off integrated carbon steel works in Middletown, Ohio and Ashland, Kentucky. The maker of flat- rolled products went public in 1994, adopting the AK Steel name in the process. At that time, KSC ended its managerial involvement in the company. Interestingly, AK Steel, one of the few generally profitable U.S. integrated steelmakers of late, has an agreement to buy Armco, which, after the divestiture of its carbon steel mills, became a Pittsburgh-headquartered producer of stainless steel.
USS/KOBE STEEL CO. now is a much smaller company. Under a previously announced deal (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 6), equal owners KOBE STEEL, LTD. and USX CORP./U.S. STEEL merged the Lorain, Ohio company's steel bar operations with those of BAR TECHNOLOGIES, INC. and REPUBLIC ENGINEERED STEELS, INC., both of which are controlled by an affiliate of merchant banker BLACKSTONE GROUP. Kobe Steel and USX each have a 15 percent interest in REPUBLIC TECHNOLOGIES INTERNATIONAL, INC. Their seamless pipe business, also located in Lorain, is excluded from the merger.
Hot-dipped galvanized steel sheet maker PRO-TEC COATING CO. of Leipsic, Ohio, another equally owned venture between KOBE STEEL, LTD. and USX CORP./U.S. STEEL, is marketing its Japanese parent's high-tensile steel sheet to Japanese- owned automotive makers in North America. Thin yet strong, high-tensile steel sheet resolves two conflicting demands on vehicle producers: decreasing the weight of their products while improving crashworthiness. In Japan, about 20 percent of the steel now used in cars and light trucks is of the high-tensile variety. Kobe Steel projects that this ratio could reach 40 percent in the 2003 model year despite the greater cost of high- tensile steel sheet.
The engine cylinder heads and other custom aluminum castings that BODINE ALUMINUM, INC. makes for parent TOYOTA MOTOR CORP.'s North American assembly facilities increasingly will be produced from secondary aluminum now that next-door neighbor MOST, INC. is nearing full production. Troy, Missouri-based MOST which is owned by DAIKI ALUMINUM INDUSTRY CO., LTD. (45 percent), Japan's top supplier of secondary aluminum products, and trader TOYOTA TSUSHO CORP. (55 percent) began trial remelting operations last December. At capacity, it will be able to turn out close to 60,000 tons of recycled aluminum a year, using all of the scrap produced by Bodine and other Toyota-affiliated parts makers. MOST will deliver the secondary aluminum to Bodine as molten metal rather than in ingot form to save remelting costs. The parts manufacturer recently invested $80 million to add a line for cylinder heads. Beginning in 2000, Bodine will be able to make 780,000 units a year compared with 480,000 now.
MODEC INTERNATIONAL LLC a Houston-headquartered supplier of floating platforms for oil and gas drillers that is owned by MITSUI ENGINEERING & SHIPBUILDING CO., LTD., an affiliate and FMC CORP. has won a contract to build a deepwater tension leg platform in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana for LEVIATHAN GAS PIPELINE PARTNERS LP. The job will be the first implementation of MODEC's MOSES TLP concept. MOSES is a flexible, low-cost platform designed for deepwater applications that takes just a year or so to erect rather than the traditional two years. It currently can support a deck and topside facilities weighing up to 6,000 tons with legs that extend down to water depths of 6,000 feet.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
In an extension of a 1996 agreement, MARUYAMA MANUFACTURING CO., INC. will continue to make through 2003 handheld landscaping equipment for sale by TORO CO. in the United States and Canada. The deal covers the Bloomington, Minnesota company's string trimmers, brushcutters, hedge trimmers, edgers, pruners and gas- powered backpack blowers. Tokyo-based Maruyama Manufacturing also offers a line of handheld equipment under its own brand name around the world.
Encouraged by the positive reception for its American-made SH Series of smaller, general-purpose injection molding machines, SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. plans to double output at its Pendergrass, Georgia factory in FY 2000. SUMITOMO (SHI) PLASTICS MACHINERY MANUFACTURING (USA), LLC has made roughly 10 machines a month in the 55-ton to 165-ton clamping force range since late last year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 6). With the higher volume, SHI also plans to start exports to Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
KANEFUSA CORP., Japan's largest producer of woodworking machine cutters and round saws, established a wholly owned marketing subsidiary in Erlanger, Kentucky. The Aichi prefecture firm's products have been available in limited areas of the country through a distributor. With its own unit, scheduled to be operational in October, Kanefusa plans to build a national presence. Its immediate priority is to develop ties on the West Coast. First-year sales are projected at $1.8 million.
The dominant supplier of sushi-making equipment in Japan has launched direct U.S. sales of six so-called sushi robots. SUZUMO MACHINERY CO., LTD.'s new California subsidiary, which started off with 10 people but plans to hire a total of 25, has an ambitious sales objective: $44.2 million in FY 2004 compared with the $1.1 million worth of business that the company's U.S. distributors did in FY 1998. Suzumo Machinery will focus much of its marketing resources on the West Coast, Hawaii and New York, all areas where sushi is particularly popular. Its line includes three machines that can make as many as 2,000 pieces of sushi an hour, plus one for rolls and two cooked rice blenders.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
The communications revolution has fueled business at big test equipment maker ANRITSU CO. (formerly Anritsu Wiltron Co.). To ensure that growth continues, the Morgan Hill, California firm, an ANRITSU CORP. subsidiary since 1990, opened a facility at headquarters for its primary Microwave Measurement Division. The building houses approximately 400 employees involved in manufacturing, R&D, sales and marketing, service and administration. It has a state-of-the-art clean room for microwave component production. Anritsu also has a new, dedicated training center on its campus. As part of the expansion, begun in early 1998, the headquarters for both the Telecom Division and the Applied Technology Division were remodeled. The 800-employ-ee Anritsu expects sales to expand 13.8 percent in FY 1999 to $162 million, with the Microwave Measurement Division contributing $100 million and the Telecom Division $38 million. The FY 2001 companywide revenue target exceeds $265.5 million.
ARAI CORP., the developer of a laser-processing technology that enables the high- speed placement of two-dimensional bar codes on various materials, has opened a subsidiary in Washington state. The Fukushima prefecture measurement equipment maker hopes to interest semiconductor manufacturers in its know-how, which is applicable to silicon wafers, as a production management tool. The technology also can be used to bar code certain types of plastics.
Over the next three years, HORIBA, LTD. wants to boost its share of the U.S. hematology equipment and reagent market to 20 percent from 5 percent or so now. This objective was announced after the company's ABX DIAGNOSTICS, INC. unit (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 9) bought from Canada's BIOCHEM PHARMA INC. the hematology operations of its Pennsylvania-based BIOCHEM IMMUNO-SYSTEMS INC.'s diagnostics subsidiary. The purchase included manufacturing and sales rights to BioChem ImmunoSystems' blood cell counters, reagents, controls and accessories. That company ranked fourth in the American desktop blood cell counter business. About 35 people, mainly field service engineers and production and sales personnel, are transferring to Irvine, California ABX Diagnostics, which will make reagents and spare parts for the BioChem ImmunoSystems hematology analyzers.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
The year-old agreement between SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. to develop, produce and market custom integrated circuits for digital consumer electronics products has yielded its first commercially viable chips. The parts, targeted at the Japanese market, will enable affordable TV- sets reception of satellite-transmitted programming. They also can be used in set-top boxes that, attached to today's analog sets, allow viewers to receive direct-to-home digital broadcasts.
MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. have agreed to work with Sunnyvale, California-based SANDISK CORP., the world's largest supplier of flash data storage products, to develop, specify and promote a next- generation secure memory card. In particular, the trio aims to come up with a small, high-speed read/write memory card that can provide advanced copyright protection for music, movies and other artistic and commercial content. The new partners expect the SD (secure digital) Memory Card, which will comply with current and future SDMI (secure digital music initiative) portable device requirements, to unleash a wave of digital consumer electronics devices that deliver new capabilities to buyers while protecting copyrighted material and, at the same time, boost Internet and wireless electronic commerce. Sampling of the SD Memory Card will start in early 2000, with production shipments set for the spring. The initial product will have 32 MB of capacity, but a 64-MB card is scheduled for later in 2000, followed the next year by a 256-MB version. The three firms believe that devices using the SD Memory Card will appear on the market in the first half of 2000.
Industry analysts speculate that intense competition in the chemical mechanical polishing market was behind MITSUBISHI MATERIALS CORP.'s decision to end operations in August at CYBEQ NANO TECHNOLOGIES, its San Jose, California CMP equipment subsidiary. The company's intellectual property as well as key personnel have been transferred to a R&D-oriented CMP firm just formed by EBARA CORP. (65 percent) and Mitsubishi Materials (35 percent). MULTI PLANAR TECHNOLOGIES, also located in San Jose, expects to harness Ebara's expertise in single-head or integrated polisher/cleaner units and Mitsubishi Materials' multihead polishing technical strengths to produce breakthroughs leading to increased market shares in both segments of the CMP business. Service and warranty work for Cybeq Nano Technologies' existing customers is being handled by the new CMP Maintenance Division of MITSUBISHI MATERIALS U.S.A. CORP. in Irvine, California. Cybeq Nano Technologies was an offshoot of a company that Mitsubishi Materials bought in 1986. The surviving entities of that firm are wafer manufacturer MITSUBISHI SILICON AMERICA CORP. of Salem, Oregon (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 9) and CYBEQ SYSTEMS, a Sunnyvale, California maker of non-CMP wafer-processing systems.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Rather than open stores in the United States like it has in London and Paris, private- brand retailer RYOHIN KEIKAKU CO., LTD. has set up an Internet "branch store." Its Muji (no brand) site offers a variety of household goods, beauty items and stationery products. The SEIYU, LTD. affiliate fills the orders in Japan and uses UPS to ship them to American customers. Ryohin Keikaku sees Muji not just as a way to expand its business but, more importantly, as a means of gaining first-hand experience with on- line retailing in the market where Internet sales are the most prevalent.
Two more Internet start-ups have caught the eye of Japanese investors. JAFCO CO., LTD., Japan's largest venture capital firm, joined three other companies in raising $13 million in third-round financing for AUDIOSOFT. The San Francisco firm provides digital copy-right management services for the music industry. Its system captures, organizes and delivers information about Internet usage for record labels, copyright collection groups and on-line retailers. It is designed to support national copyright laws in all major music markets as well as existing and future audio compression technologies. PANASONIC DISC SERVICES CORP., a MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. subsidiary, has agreed to invest in and provide advice to Seattle's M-2K, which just launched DVDromshop.com. The on-line superstore for DVD-ROMs offers a complete catalog of software titles for this format as well as enhanced DVD movie titles and other special selections. It also is an information source for what is happening in the DVD-ROM world. In exchange for its help, Torrance, California-based PDSC, a DVD replication operation, will receive promotional considerations on DVDromshop.com.
Professional animators have an alternative to complex, high-end animation packages in RETAS! PRO Infinity 5, a package developed by CELSYS, INC. This three- dimensional solution combines a trio of tools: TraceMan, a scanning module that imports drawings, layouts and backgrounds through a scanner or a video camera; PaintMan, which is used to modify and paint scanned pencil drawings; and CoreRETAS, which can compose a conventional exposure sheet that indicates up to 54 layers of cels and four kinds of camera work and that includes an unlimited number of special effects. The Japanese version of RETAS! PRO v5 is out now. An English- language release is due in November. Tokyo-based CELSYS gave DIGIMATION, INC. of St. Rose, Louisiana exclusive U.S. distribution rights.
Version 2.0 of Scenarist NT, which Novato, California-based DAIKIN U.S. COMTEC LABORATORIES bills as the world's most used and most advanced DVD authoring software, is on the market. Developer DAIKIN INDUSTRIES, LTD. made several performance enhancements to the product, including project wizards and project templates. It also improved user interfaces and accelerated processing of subtitles and disc images. Ease-of-use features were incorporated as well, allowing even novices to create DVD titles in just minutes, according to the company.
In October, KISSEI COMTEC CO., LTD., a medical software developer affiliated with KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., will open a marketing subsidiary in Irvine, California. It will complement the marketing unit in Hackensack, New Jersey that the company launched this summer. Kissei Comtec has developed more than 20 medical analysis software titles.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Japanese multinationals doing business in the United States will have the choice of two more hometown communications carriers in 2000, particularly for their transpacific data communications requirements. The Federal Communications Commission awarded facilities-based operating licenses to DDI COMMUNICATIONS AMERICA CORP., the Los Angeles subsidiary of domestic long-distance carrier DDI CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 9), and to TTNET AMERICA, INC., the recently formed L.A. unit of TOKYO TELECOMMUNICATION NETWORK CO., INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 11), which got its start by providing local phone service in the Tokyo area. Both companies have secured capacity on separate Japan-U.S. undersea fiber-optic networks that currently are being built. DDI Communications hopes to be operational next spring, while TTNet America is eyeing a third-quarter start-up.
Printed circuit board computer-aided design and manufacturing systems developer ZUKEN INC. invested $1 million in HOLONTECH CORP., acquiring a 2.5 percent or so stake in the San Jose, California specialist in data communications equipment and software. NEC CORP. formed the company in August 1996 from part of its U.S. operations. HolonTech is particularly strong in switch-based load-balancer products and related flow-control software for managing traffic to Web and application servers. This is an area of interest to Zuken, which is looking for a big increase in its network- related business.
DDI CORP. and KYOCERA CORP. are prepared to inject as much as $44.3 million into IRIDIUM LLC, the global satellite phone and paging operator that filed for bankruptcy protection in August after failing to sign up enough customers. NIPPON IRIDIUM CORP. owns 11.2 percent of the Washington, D.C.-based company, second only to MOTOROLA INC.'s share. In turn, DDI and its affiliates have a 50.5 percent stake in Nippon Iridium, while Kyocera owns 10 percent of the company. Symptomatic of Iridium's troubles, Nippon Iridium has attracted fewer than 3,000 subscribers in Japan, about 30 percent of its start-up projection. Service has continued while Motorola tries to negotiate a financial reorganization plan for Iridium.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Competition from Mexico and other countries with low labor costs has taken a steady toll on the finances of cotton yarn and fabric manufacturer NISSHINBO CALIFORNIA INC. for the last 11 years. As a result, NISSHINBO INDUSTRIES, INC. and partner KANEMATSU CORP. (25 percent) have decided to close the Fresno, California company by December and let its 240 employees go. In 1998, Nisshinbo California posted a net loss of $1.6 million on sales of $29.7 million. At that time, liabilities reportedly exceeded assets by some $35 million, reflecting the fact that the manufacturer never has had a profitable year.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. could be the first automotive manufacturer to meet the California Air Resources Board's stringent super low emission vehicle standards for gasoline-powered vehicles. Its candidate is a 1.8-liter version of the 2000-model-year Sentra compact sedan. Nissan expects the SULEV Sentra to emit about one-fourth of the unburned hydrocarbons and one-tenth of the nitrogen oxides of the cleanest gasoline-powered car now sold in California. Moreover, the vehicle's fuel system will emit no raw hydrocarbon gasoline vapors, a first. Production of the SULEV Sentra will begin in February 2000.
Commercial production of 3.0-liter V6 engines has begun at TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING WEST VIRGINIA, INC. in Buffalo. They will go into the redesigned Avalon sedans built by TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING KENTUCKY, INC. in Georgetown. Late last year, TMMWV launched production of four-cylinder engines for North American-assembled Corollas. At full capacity, the factory will be able to produce 300,000 four-cylinder engines and 200,000 V6 engines a year. The beginning of official V6 output coincided with the start of construction of TMMWV's automatic transmission plant (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9). Production of these parts, destined for Kentucky-built Camrys, is scheduled for early 2001 at an eventual rate of 360,000 units a year. When Toyota West Virginia is fully operational, it will employ 800 people and represent an investment on the order of $900 million.
The 20-year-plus technical tie-up between MEIJI RUBBER & CHEMICAL CO., LTD. and Germany's FREUDENBERG & CO. on automotive brake hose has led to a joint venture in the United States. An on-the-move FREUDENBERG-NOK, a Plymouth, Michigan-headquartered supplier of automotive sealing products that recently announced its intention to move into the North American brake hose market, has joined with MMU AUTO COMPONENTS, INC. of Normal, Illinois to form FLEXITECH, INC. Freudenberg-NOK owns 51 percent of that company. Meiji Rubber and MITSUBISHI CORP., which formed automotive hose maker MMU in 1989 on a 60 percent/40 percent basis, have shares of 29.4 percent and 19.6 percent, respectively, in Flexitech. The joint venture imports hose from Japan and France and turns it into brake hose assemblies as well as power steering, vacuum, oil cooler and automatic transmission hose assemblies at Flexitech's Normal factory. Customers include three Japanese vehicle transplants. Freudenberg-NOK, in which seal supplier NOK CORP. is a minority partner, provided Flexitech's engineering, sales and marketing resources.
With output increasing at HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD.'s North American operations, more of the company's parts suppliers are announcing expansion plans. For instance, F.C.C. CO., LTD. has earmarked $10.6 million so that its JAYTEC, INC. subsidiary can turn out 20 percent more segmented clutch friction disks for automatic transmissions. When the new capacity comes on stream in May 2000, the Portland, Indiana factory will be able to produce 1.2 million of these parts monthly for HONDA TRANSMISSION MANUFACTURING OF AMERICA, INC. in Marysville, Ohio. This investment was disclosed just as Jaytec was getting ready to raise output of automatic transmission clutches for Honda Transmission (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 11).
Japanese automotive parts makers might have set up shop in the United States to supply their traditional customers, but a number of them are finding new business opportunities in Detroit. For starters, the now all-Japanese client list for SW MANUFACTURING, INC.'s window regulators, seat adjusters/recliners and hinges soon will indirectly include FORD MOTOR CO. The Smithville, Tennessee subsidiary of SHIROKI CORP. has a contract to supply hinges to LEAR CORP., which will design, engineer and manufacture the fold-down rear seat for the 2001-model-year F-150 SuperCrew, Ford's all-new, full-size pickup featuring four doors and seating for six adults. SuperCrew production will start in December at Ford's Kansas City, Missouri plant. Lear will open a plant in nearby Liberty, Missouri to assemble F-150 seats. SW Manufacturing opened in 1989.
At least three Japanese parts transplants have benefited recently from the trend toward greater outsourcing by GENERAL MOTORS CORP. Twelve-year-old JIDECO OF BARDSTOWN, INC., a JIDOSHA DENKI KOGYO CO., LTD. company, has won not only its first GM contract but also its first order for an integrated windshield washer system. The Bardstown, Kentucky producer will supply as many as 530,000 combination wiper blade/arm/motor/washer nozzle units annually to GM for its code- named Epsilon car project. Shipments will start in early 2000. Jideco of Bardstown now makes power window motors, ABS (antilock braking system) motors and wiper motors.
Although much of its substantial North American business is generated by TOYOTA MOTOR CORP. assembly plants in the United States and Canada (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 12), AISIN SEIKI CO., LTD. has succeeded in winning a second contract from GENERAL MOTORS CORP. Since June, AISIN DRIVETRAIN, INC. of Crothersville, Indiana has been shipping electronically controlled torque converters for the automatic transmissions of an unidentified GM pickup. The order covers 120,000 units a year. Its sibling, Seymour, Indiana-based AISIN U.S.A. MANUFACTURING, INC., already builds door frames for certain GM vehicles.
Production of ball joints for the suspensions of full-size GENERAL MOTORS CORP. sport-utility vehicles will begin in January 2000 at BIG BEND TECHNOLOGY, INC. In operation for just over two years, the Sparta, Tennessee manufacturer, majority-owned by RHYTHM CORP., has gotten off to an unusually fast start. Although set up to supply the nearby NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD. factory, BBT also has a contract with a FORD MOTOR CO. supplier for SUV suspension ball joints (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 9). With the GM contract in hand, the company projects that sales will reach $44.2 million in FY 2000 from $21.2 million in FY 1998.
Seat-belt manufacturer ASHIMORI INDUSTRY CO., LTD. has forged a technical alliance with DELPHI AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS CORP. The world's largest automotive parts maker will draw on the Osaka prefecture company's technology to make seat belts mainly for sale to American and European vehicle builders. Delphi, however, is expected to go after the seat-belt business of Japanese automotive makers that are not customers of Ashimori Industry, which ranks fourth among producers of seat belts in Japan. In time, the technical tie-up could lead to a joint production and marketing venture, possibly in Southeast Asia.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
In order to bolster sales of safety glass for cars and trucks in the United States, ASAHI GLASS CO., LTD. will open a R&D/market development facility in Detroit by the start of 2002. Japan's top glass manufacturer owns the number-two North American producer of flat glass, AFG INDUSTRIES, INC. Last year, that Kingsport, Tennessee- headquartered company opened a float glass plant in Richmond, Kentucky to make the high-quality product required for automotive glass (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, pp. 8-9). Apparently, though, AFG has not been as successful as it anticipated in taking automotive glass business away from such entrenched U.S. competitors as PPG INDUSTRIES, INC. By expanding its onshore development capabilities, Asahi Glass hopes to expand AFG's automotive safety glass market beyond Japanese vehicle manufacturers operating in North America to GENERAL MOTORS CORP. in particular.
SURPASS INDUSTRY CO., LTD. has tapped NANO-MASTER, INC. of Austin, Texas to market its Fluoropolymers Quick Connectors. This series of fluorine resin-based one-touch (instant lock) connectors is designed mainly for contact with high-purity chemicals used in the semiconductor manufacturing process, although the Saitama prefecture manufacturer's products also are suitable for such applications as semiconductor production, biochemistry, pure water, medical and environmental equipment. Fluorine resin provides high chemical resistance to Quick Connectors' connecting parts, while the special fluoropolymer springs ensure high leak resistance.
With its sales of watches in the low end (under $100) of the market in a slump, particularly in the United States, SEIKO CORP. has taken the once-un-thinkable step of turning to an outside company, an American one at that, for help. SEIKO INSTRUMENTS, INC. has formed a venture with fast-growing watch maker FOSSIL, INC. to target American watch sales by big discount retailers. SII MARKETING INTERNATIONAL, INC., based in Richardson, Texas like Fossil and majority-owned by the Seiko Group, will draw on Seiko Instruments' production expertise and Fossil's marketing capability. The new company also will have access to the sales channels developed by KING CO. for Seiko's Lorus brand, which now will be marketed by SII Marketing. Sales of the more upscale Seiko brand of watches will continue to be handled outside of SII Marketing. Seiko Instruments and Fossil actually are not strangers since SII has supplied movements for some of Fossil's fashion-oriented watches and supplied it with products on an OEM basis.
Through its Bellevue, Washington investment subsidiary, TRANS COSMOS INC. is emerging as a major provider of financing for Internet start-ups, particularly those that it believes have potential in Japan. It already has invested in at least 20 such ventures. The latest Trans Cosmos investment, amounting to $11 million, went into Internet media tracker and market researcher NETRATINGS, INC. The Milpitas, California company keeps media planners, site publishers, advertisers, e-commerce companies and the Internet investment community abreast of on-line user behavior through daily, weekly and monthly data. NetRatings will use the Trans Cosmos money to help it expand internationally as well as to step up its audience-measurement offerings in the United States.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Late this month, NIPPON FLUOROWARE K.K. is scheduled to begin making fluoroplastic injected-molded wafer-handling carriers for the semiconductor industry at its Yonezawa, Yamagata prefecture factory. NIPPON VALQUA INDUSTRIES, LTD., which owns 10 percent of the company, has been producing this product but, as part of a reorganization of its fluoroplastic business, decided to hand over production to Nippon Fluoroware. Manufacturing equipment is being transferred to Nippon Fluoroware as well as up to 20 employees. Chaska, Minnesota-headquartered ENTEGRIS, INC. is the joint venture's majority (90 percent) owner. This critical materials management company was formed in June through the merger of FLUOROWARE, INC. and a Colorado Springs, Colorado firm in the same business.
To better support users of its semiconductor-grade materials, DOW CHEMICAL CO. tied up with HITACHI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. Under the agreement, the Tokyo company will handle sales, technical support, warehousing and distribution of Dow's SiLK semiconductor dielectric resins, Cyclotene dielectric resins and ancillary chemicals for the semiconductor interlayer dielectric market. People at Dow's subsidiary will be detailed to Hitachi Chemical to share technical support and marketing responsibilities for these products. SiLK resins, introduced in 1996, were developed specifically for use as an interlayer dielectric material in high-performance integrated circuits. They are enjoying growing acceptance in Japan, Dow says, in large part because they help to produce chips with faster processing speeds and reduced "cross talk." SiLK resins are suitable for all existing CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) interconnect technologies using copper/damascene or aluminum/tungsten technologies.
Meanwhile, HITACHI CHEMICAL CO., LTD. became the fourth major company to be licensed by RESEARCH FRONTIERS INC. to make and market on a nonexclusive worldwide basis SPD (suspended particle device) film for electrically and instantaneously controlling the amount of light passing through windows, skylights, sunroofs, eyewear and the like as well as for enabling brighter, easier-to-read flat- panel computer displays. The Woodbury, New York company also gave Hitachi Chemical the right to make and sell to authorized users emulsions used to produce SPD film. Earlier, Research Frontiers made DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC. the first licensed supplier of its emulsions (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 13).
With a reimbursement price set for Gemzar (gemcitabine HCI), ELI LILLY AND CO.'s subsidiary is marketing this first-line treatment for inoperable, locally advanced or metastatic nonsmall-cell lung cancer. A nucleoside analogue that is used with ciplatin, another anticancer drug, the chemotherapeutic agent disrupts the process of cell replication, thereby slowing or stopping the progression of the lung cancer. Gemzar, which the Ministry of Health and Welfare approved for sale last March, also is indicated for the treatment of pancreatic cancer, although this use has not yet been approved in Japan.
ZENYAKU KOGYO CO., LTD. will have exclusive rights to commercialize for the Japanese market a psoriasis immunotherapeutic agent codeveloped by CORIXA CORP. of Seattle and New Zealand's GENESIS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CORP. PVAC currently is in Phase I/II trials in the Philippines. Under the multiyear agreement, Corixa will receive licensing fees, research funding and milestone payments from its Tokyo partner as well as royalties on future product sales. The American R&D-based biotechnology company recently gave JAPAN TOBACCO INC. rights to commercialize vaccine and antibody-based products from lung cancer antigens that it had developed (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 13).
Through participation in the Microarray Technology Access Program an integrated system for high-throughput, quantitative gene expression analysis and functional genomics TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. has gained preferential access to the global microarray technologies of Sunnyvale, California-based AMERSHAM PHARMACIA BIOTECH CORP. Takeda Chemical is the first major Japanese pharmaceutical company to join MTAP, an international consortium of some 30 drug, biotechnology and genomics companies and academic organizations interested in using DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) microarrays to accelerate their R&D efforts. Amersham Pharmacia Biotech is the life sciences affiliate of PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. (45 percent) and NYCOMED AMERSHAM, PLC (55 percent).
Engineers from the Murray Hill, New Jersey industrial gases business of BOC GROUP PLC and MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. have codeveloped a new process for making maleic anhydride, a product used extensively in the production of synthetic fibers, resins, plastics, elastomers and rubber. The technology combines a MCC- developed catalyst for the oxidation of butane with a patented BOC Gases selective hydrocarbon separation system that recovers and recycles unreacted butane from the maleic anhydride. The process has been deployed at a MCC pilot plant in Kurashiki, Oka-yama prefecture. Japan's top chemical manufacturer also plans to build a bigger facility to expand production using the joint technology. Both BOC Gases and Mitsubishi Chemical are licensing the technology.
A Hawaiian marine biotechnology firm that produces an astaxanthin-rich product from microalgae has made its first sale in Japan. AQUASEARCH INC. did not name the buyer, describing it only as a life sciences company. Microalgae or microscopic plants produce many unique bioactive compounds that have application in such fields as natural colorings, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and agrichemicals.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Few recent announcements have raised so many eyebrows in the computer world as the news that SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. and NEC CORP. would sell each other's supercomputers in Japan. The surprise reflected the assumed animosity between the two resulting from the ultimately successful 1996-98 campaign waged by SGI's Cray unit, then an independent company, to prevent NEC from leasing a number-crunching computer to a partly government-funded U.S. climate research laboratory on what Washington agreed were unfair terms. Neither company said explicitly why they had decided to cooperate. One factor no doubt is the difficulty both have experienced selling high-perform-ance computers in Japan's current economic climate and with mainstream computers becoming ever more powerful. Moreover, for months, Silicon Graphics has been attempting to restructure its subsidiary's operations to make them more growth-oriented. Whatever the reason for the tie-up, it marries SGI's expertise in both traditional vector supercomputers (Cray SV1, Cray T3E and Cray T90) and scalar supercomputers (the SGI Origin 2000) with NEC's vector architecture.
New marketing partners SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. and NEC CORP. did not have to wait very long to receive their first contract. The Institute of Fluid Science at Tohoku University, a longtime Cray customer, ordered a massive high-performance computing solution that has at its core a 640-processor version of the scalar SGI Origin 2000 supercomputer as well as NEC's new SX-5 vector supercomputer with 16 central processors. The hybrid system will have a data-processing capacity unmatched in Japan. Including workstations and other peripherals, the contract is worth $44.3 million. .....Its new relationship with NEC CORP. also worked to SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s advantage when its partner received an order from the National Research Institute for Metals, part of the government's Science and Technology Agency, for a SX-5 system to replace the NEC supercomputer it has used since 1995. The system, slated to be operational in April 2000, will use SGI file and graphics servers. The SX-5 covered by the contract will be the biggest supercomputer NEC has ever built, featuring a top performance of 256 gigaflops (billion operations per second) and a 128-GB main memory.
IBM JAPAN LTD. sold MITSUI MARINE & FIRE INSURANCE CO., LTD. on the cost benefits of outsourcing its computer operations. The 10-year contract, worth an estimated $238.9 million, is expected to save the number-three property and casualty insurer some 10 percent of what it otherwise would have spent on information technology requirements. .....IBM JAPAN LTD. reportedly will be tapped to run an on- line banking service for regional banks. JUROKU BANK, LTD. of Gifu prefecture and SURUGA BANK, LTD., which does most of its business in Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures, are spearheading the project. They expect to enlist as many as 30 fellow regional banks across the country by fall 2000. The sign-up cost will be about $885,000 per bank, plus anywhere from $212,400 to $265,500 in annual fees. IBM Japan will install a server for each of the participating banks at one of its operations centers and link that machine to a bank's own data center.
By 2000, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. forecasts, 80 percent of the PC servers that it sells will be assembled at the company's factory in the Hachioji section of Tokyo. That switch will give corporate customers the chance to tailor the systems to their specific requirements. HP Japan already has started to provide some HP NetServer workgroup and departmental servers on a build-to-order basis. Previously, all of its PC servers were produced in the Philippines.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has unveiled two other initiatives designed to boost revenues. It has begun a program to directly lease its most powerful servers and other computer equipment to promising Internet start-ups. These venture businesses lack the financial track record to lease hardware from mainstream leasing companies. At least one company that plans to auction used cars over the Internet already has taken advantage of HP Japan's new service. It signed a three-year lease on a $354,000 Web server system. Under a companion program, HP Japan will tailor leases for Internet start-ups not only to hardware specifics but also to the number of users, hours of use and similar variables. In the year starting in November, HP Japan hopes to conclude direct lease contracts worth $442.5 million.
GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary already has opened Gateway Country stores in Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima, Sendai and two other cities to complement its direct sales over the Internet or by phone. Now, it is experimenting with another retail concept. Gateway set up an in-store shop at a DAIEI, INC. outlet in Chiba prefecture in an attempt to piggyback on the business of mass merchandisers. The shop is staffed by Gateway personnel who can help consumers figure how out what kind of PC they want. If this experiment is successful, Gateway will consider extending the format to other locations.
A line of what are known as immersive-visualiza-tion graphics workstations is on the market from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. with marketing support from NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. Equipped with ultra-high-resolution displays that measure up to 30 feet wide, the HP VISUALIZE Center allows entire project teams in the automotive, aerospace and related industries as well as in the scientific community to optimize product development and scientific visualization. Members can walk through an entire, full-size visual vehicle, airplane or building, interact with the data and resolve design problems in real time before physical prototypes are built. Integral to the solution are HP VISUALIZE Unix workstations and HP VISUALIZE fx6 3D graphics with texture-mapping acceleration. HP Japan priced the HP VISUALIZE Center from $672,600.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. redefined the entry point to the high-end AlphaServer GS Series, a 64-bit computing line designed for the most demanding enterprise and technical-computing applications. The AlphaServer GS60E can support as many as six 525-MHz Alpha 21264 (EV6) processors and provides up to 12 GB of system memory. It also allows hardware partitioning and features 64-bit Very Large Memory capabilities. The base configuration of the AlphaServer GS60E, which has two processors and 1 GB of internal memory, costs roughly $144,200 for a machine running the Tru64 Unix operating system or $147,800 for one using OpenVMS.
Over the next two years, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary believes that it will be able to sell 20,000 units of the new Netra t1 Model 105 carrier-grade server to Internet services providers. Its optimism has several causes. For starters, the system is just 1.75 inches high, allowing 40 of them to be stacked in a 19-inch rack. That is two to four times more than is possible with competing systems. As a result, ISPs can more easily and cost-effectively dedicate separate systems to individual customers or to different infrastructure applications. Greater redundancy also can be built in. In addition, the Netra t1 incorporates several ease-of-management fea-tures, including remote monitoring and control. The clincher in Sun's opinion is the price. A Netra t1 Model 105 with a 360-MHz UltraSPARC IIi processor, 64 MB of system memory and a 9.1-GB hard drive is just $8,700.
Upgraded graphics accelerators now are standard on COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s Windows NT-based line of Professional Workstation AP/SP models, which represent the big computer maker's attempt to balance the latest in processor technology and high-performance 2D and 3D graphics solutions with affordable pricing. For jobs that require entry-level 3D graphics using the Professional Workstations AP200 and AP400, the company switched its basic offering to ELSA Synergy II from ELSA GLoria Synergy. With the Professional Workstations AP500 and SP700, Compaq is shipping 3DLabs Oxygen GVX1. This controller is designed for technical professional users seeking a midrange 3D graphics capability.
The rollout of Windows NT-based workstations incorporating the latest in Pentium III Xeon processor technology continues. The 550-MHz version of this engine, which has a 100-MHz system bus and full-speed cache, now powers DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s dual-processor-capable Precision WorkStation 610. Pricing for this high-end product starts at just $3,200. .....DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary also brought the performance-enhancing 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor to the PowerEdge 6300 server. Designed for the most demanding business applications, this system supports four-way multiprocessing. The base configuration is priced from $7,500.
In a further sign that American computer vendors believe that the Linux operating system could become just as popular in Japan as it is positioned to be in the United States, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is marketing its first PC server package with the freeware version of Unix preinstalled. The vehicle is the HP NetServer E 60, a machine touted as easy to set up, back up, troubleshoot and expand. HP Japan priced the renamed HP Linux E 60 at less than $4,400, including three years of support and service. A package without support services also is available. Some of the first products that COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary is offering through its new direct sales channel (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, pp. 14-15) are the four models making up the network-targeted Prosignia Desktop 330 family. Equipped with the Windows NT 4.0 Workstation operating system, these built-to-order systems can be configured with either a 450- MHz or a 550-MHz Pentium III processor, 64 MB to 384 MB of internal memory and 8.4 GB to 37.7 GB of storage, plus a 52X CD-ROM drive. Pricing starts at a low $1,200- plus (excluding a monitor), which Compaq thinks will give it an edge on the competition.
The power of the 600-MHz Pentium III chip has been brought to DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s desktop line for demanding networks. The base model of the OptiPlex GX1 600S, which includes a 440BX chipset, comes with 64 MB of system memory and a 6.4-GB hard drive. It lists for $1,600. That is almost $600 less than the previous entry- level OptiPlex GX1, which was powered by a 550-MHz Pentium III. Perhaps even more than its American rivals, Dell has been slashing prices on new products as well as deeply discounting the models they replace. The cuts extend to PowerEdge servers, OptiPlex GX1p desktops and Latitude notebooks.
In a worldwide release, DELL COMPUTER CORP. introduced its least expensive desktop system to date for corporate users. In Japan, the OptiPlex GX100 starts at $870. That buys a small-form-factor machine with a 400-MHz Celeron processor together with the new 810 chipset, 4 MB of dedicated graphics memory, 32 MB of synchronous DRAM memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive, a 1.44-MB floppy drive, integrated 10/100 networking and a 15-inch monitor. .....DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary soon outdid its parent. It released a Japan-only product, its first ever, that costs as little as $660 without a monitor and $840 packaged with a 15-inch display. Either price for the Dimension J400c, which is aimed at the SOHO (small office/home office) market, includes a 400-MHz Celeron processor along with the 810 chipset, 64 MB of SDRAM and 4.3 GB of storage.
Fellow direct marketer GATEWAY 2000, INC. quickly met this challenge. It, too, broke the ¥100,000 pricing barrier for desktops with the $885 GP6-400c. The specifications of this midtower machine parallel those of the Dimension J400c: a 400-MHz Celeron processor, a 440ZX chipset with AGP (accelerated graphics port) support, 64 MB of SRAM, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 15-inch monitor. However, the price for the Gateway system also covers three months of Internet access.
GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s subsidiary also expanded its lineup of affordable, small-form- factor PCs for businesses with the release of a new E-1400 model. Priced from $850 without a monitor, this system comes with a 400-MHz Celeron processor that has 128 kilobytes of cache, 64 MB of internal memory and a 6.8-GB hard drive. It takes up less than half the space of traditional PCs. It is easy to service or upgrade because the motherboard, power supply and hard drive are removable. At the same time that it goes after corporate buyers of desktop machines, GATEWAY 2000, INC.'s marketing unit is putting more emphasis on the notebook market. It has doubled the number of people providing support for users of its portable computers and allocated more money for advertising its notebooks. These moves coincided with several model launches. One was a version of the Solo 9300 that can be used for digital video editing. This product, which starts at less than $2,700, offers a choice of a 400-MHz mobile Pentium II processor, a 366-MHz Celeron or its 400-MHz cousin. It features a 15-inch XGA active-matrix TFT color display and a high-speed IEEE 1394 serial bus. This Solo 9300 also can be equipped with a CD-rewritable drive. Gateway released as well three notebooks that include in their price one year of Internet access and some other free services a marketing strategy that it has used to sell certain desktop models. A Solo 3100 portable with a 266-MHz Celeron chip lists at less than $1,800, while the Solo 2500 Internet model, which uses a 333-MHz Celeron processor, goes for $1,900. The third model, priced at $2,500, is part of the Solo 9100 line. It uses a 333-MHz Pentium II processor.
The latest entry from DELL COMPUTER CORP. in the notebook sweepstakes is the Latitude CS-R400XT. A lightweight (4.3 pounds), thin (1.1 inches in height) system despite its 13.3-inch color display, this product is powered by a 400-MHz mobile Pentium II processor with AGP performance. The starting price of $2,400 includes 64 MB of SDRAM and a 4.8-GB hard drive.
In a significant win for INTERGRAPH CORP., its subsidiary teamed with MEDIA 100 INC. to deliver Finish content-creation video systems to two schools offering digital media training and certification courses. The deals with Japan Electronics College and Digital Contents Academy 3Dplus, also located in Tokyo, included the installation of 16 of the Huntsville, Alabama manufacturer's TDZ 2000 Video Workstations for the Windows NT operating environment. Between them, JEC and 3Dplus are said to have the largest number of professional nonlinear editing systems of any Japanese school. Their classes are aimed at aspiring digital media engineers and creators.
NCR JAPAN, LTD., which has built a substantial business for itself by catering to the hardware and software requirements of nationwide retailers, has introduced a state-of- the-art, Japan-only system for chains that takes advantage of the Web. For stores themselves, the RPRO FSP Solution consists of NCR 7452POS (point of sale) machines and the NCR 7401 Web Kiosk Terminal. Ten of the POS systems cost $132,700, while the terminal is priced from $10,600. This equipment is linked to a server at the retailer's headquarters that costs $79,600 and up. Over the next three years, NCR expects to sell 100 of the servers, plus 5,000 Web Kiosk Terminals and 30,000 POS machines.
IBM JAPAN LTD. signed an agreement with OMRON CORP. to supply it with automated teller machines on an original equipment manufacturer basis for sale in Asia outside Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. The computer giant will install its own software in the ATMs and also handle after-sale service. The five-year deal, which starts in October, could involve as many as 30,000 machines, giving a major boost to Omron's share of the world ATM market. IBM Japan anticipates strong demand for ATMs from financial institutions in the People's Republic of China and elsewhere in Asia in coming years.
The latest product from the marketing unit of enterprise storage systems world leader EMC CORP. is the Celerra File Server. This system combines Symmetrix Enterprise Storage technology with what the company says is a novel approach to software and hardware. In EMC's opinion, this marriage delivers unprecedented levels of availability, management, scalability (up to 37 terabytes) and performance to network file storage. Key to the performance claim is software optimized for moving data. Moreover, a single Celerra File Server can simultaneously support mixed Unix and Windows NT environments. Operable over local networks, including Gigabit Ethernet, and wide area networks like the Internet, the network file server's pricing starts at $765,500.
With two additions to the HP SureStore E on-line storage product family, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. promises HP 9000 Enterprise Server customers that they can match their storage investments to the specific amount of disk space needed for a given application and add capacity as necessary. The HP SureStore E Disk Array FC60 is a native Fibre Channel RAID (redundant array of independent disks) array offering high availability, up to a terabyte of capacity and high-speed data transfer. Designed for large-scale, business-critical applications, it can be configured with four to 60 disks. The basic system costs $61,700. For small to midsize ISP and e- commerce applications and Unix file/print operations, HP Japan is marketing the HP SureStore E Disk System SC10. It can be built with four to 10 Ultra2 SCSI disks with a top capacity of 182 GB per enclosure. The standard SC10 model lists for $22,300. Between the two products, HP Japan expects to generate sales of $35.4 million in the first year.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. also figures that over the coming year, its customers will buy 1,000 of its latest DAT (digital audio tape) system for backing up midsize networks. The HP SureStore DAT24eU, which is compatible with leading Unix and Windows NT servers and workstations, has a compressed data capacity of 24 GB per DDS-3 (digital data storage) cartridge and a sustained transfer rate of 7.2 GB an hour, again with hardware data compression. This particular model, which lists for $2,100, comes with a SCSI cable and terminator as well as a power cable and a power supply.
ULTERA SYSTEMS INC., which bills itself as the leading manufacturer of RAID tape array controllers and subsystems for high-speed backup, archival and data acquisition applications, appointed MACNICA, INC. as its master distributor. The Laguna Hills, California company's product line, which is compatible with all industry-standard tape drives, tape libraries and storage management software, spans the name-indicative Striper, LibraryMaster, Imager and ShadowMaster Series.
Once again, INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. has managed to pack a record amount of capacity into a notebook PC hard drive. The Travelstar 25GS, designed for the premium end of the market, holds 25.3 GB of data, four times as much as the average portable hard drive. Moreover, at 5,400 revolutions per minute, the drive tops the speed of any competitor's, adding to performance. The Travelstar 25GS will be used in IBM JAPAN LTD.'s high-end ThinkPads as well as in notebooks from other manufacturers.
IMATION CORP.'s subsidiary is upbeat about prospects for its 120-MB SuperDisk USB external drive for both Macintosh machines and Windows PCs. It is forecasting sales of 5,000 SDD-120USB WM2Xs a month. The drive has an estimated street price of $300.
With the $175 HP JetDirect 170X, small businesses with Windows machines can connect printers regardless of make to their networks. The result, HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. says, is an output speed that is up to six times faster than with a file server or a shared PC connection. The company is projecting sales of 20,000 units a year.
Color LCDs developed by COLORADO MICRODISPLAY, INC. that measure less than a half inch diagonally will be distributed to OEMs by SUMITOMO CORP., backstopped by the Boulder, Colorado company's new Tokyo sales and support office. Target applications for CMD's microdisplays, which reportedly can be produced at about one- fourth the cost of conventional displays with equivalent image quality, include headsets for mobile computing, portable DVD players and wearable computers; viewfinders in digital cameras, camcorders and next-generation smart phones/Internet appliances; front and rear projection devices; and displays for a variety of industrial products. Sumitomo is so convinced that the microdisplays will find a broad market that it is projecting annual sales on the order of $35.4 million within two years.
A third Japanese electronics manufacturer has been licensed to use EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s innovative organic electroluminescence technology in passive monochrome and color flat-panel displays for a variety of applications. Like PIONEER CORP. and SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD., which also has an OEL development partnership with Kodak (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 17), TDK CORP. no doubt was attracted to the lower power consumption, faster response time, better brightness, unlimited viewing angle and thinner design of displays incorporating OEL technology compared with today's LCD displays. Kodak will collect royalties from TDK.
Three products from RARITAN COMPUTER INC., a manufacturer of switches that allow the control of multiple computers from a single keyboard, monitor and mouse, are now available in Japan. The Somerset, New Jersey company's entry-level line is the Compu-Switch, which can connect any combination of two, four or eight PCs, Macs and Suns using any operating system. For centrally running anywhere from two to 256 multiplatform computers, Raritan offers the MasterConsole II. Its MasterControl MX switch goes a step further, allowing up to four people to simultaneously control as many as 256 computers (PCs, Macs, Suns, Alphas, RS/6000s, HP 9000s and SGIs) each from one keyboard/monitor/mouse. Regardless of the product, a Raritan switch eliminates the cost and the clutter of multiple peripherals, reduces equipment space and helps to improve operational efficiency in such places as data centers, Web server farms and customer service operations. Pricing ranges from $480 to $11,100.
The ultimate in consumer desktop entertainment is how 3DFX INTERACTIVE, INC. describes the possibilities opened up by the new Voodoo3 3500 TV AGP card. It combines powerful 3D and 2D graphics with complete TV tuner and multimedia functionality. NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP., the San Jose, California company's distributor since April, has priced the card at $335. It expects annual sales in excess of 20,000 units. 3dfx Interactive recently established a Tokyo marketing subsidiary (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 21).
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Over time, the government's new private finance initiative should create business opportunities for U.S. engineering and construction companies. Already, civil engineering giant BECHTEL CORP. has agreed to work with big contractor TAISEI CORP. to win contracts for PFI projects and execute them. Under the private finance initiative, the public sector in Japan hopes to harness the resources, both financial and technical, of the private sector to build economic and social infrastructure. That could include anything from roads to incinerators. PFI is an attempt to get around the bottleneck to the implementation of public works programs caused by the inability of local governments to come up with their share of the money because of strained finances.
With technical assistance from Houston's HORIZONTAL DRILLING INTERNATIONAL, INC., which specializes in the installation of pipelines, conduits and cables beneath rivers, highways and similar barriers, SUMITOMO METAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. and an affiliate developed an improved method of what is called horizontal directional drilling. This technology marries conventional road boring and the directional drilling used for oil wells. As the Pipeline Arc-Shaped SMI-DRIX name of SMI's technique suggests, the installation is arc-shaped. In simplified terms, it is achieved by drilling a pilot hole at a prescribed angle from horizontal and continuing it under the obstacle, then enlarging the path with a reamer and finally pulling the prefabricated pipeline through. SMI estimates that its method not only cuts construction time but also reduces the cost of laying pipelines across barriers by 20 percent to 30 percent.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
For such handheld scanning applications as retail point of sale and in-store inventory, distributor AINIX CORP. released WELCH ALLYN, INC.'s IMAGETEAM 3800 bar code scanner. It uses linear imaging technology rather than more conventional CCD (charge-coupled device) or laser technology, combining a bright, sharp aiming line with high-resolution imaging to deliver what the Skaneateles Falls, New York manufacturer says is an exceptional reading performance. The IT3800, which operates from a tabletop holder in manual trigger mode or can be placed in an adjustable stand for automated operation, is priced from $790.
BOSE CORP. is making a major push to boost sales of its home theater audio systems, hoping to lift them within the current fiscal year to 30 percent of revenues from 20 percent or so. One key to this strategy is to reduce delivery times from the Japanese factory to which the premium speaker maker has consigned assembly of the systems. Another part is to increase imports of components from the United States. Bose also has boosted its advertising budget. One of the first home theater systems to benefit from the new push is a setup designed to produce movie theater-quality sound from standard two-track videotapes. To do this, Bose uses a digital-processing chip able to automatically differentiate between voices and other sounds and divide them among five speakers. Including speakers and amplifiers, the new home theater system costs $2,200.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Japan's changing regulatory environment for electricity sales is starting to attract the interest of foreign companies that believe that they can undercut the high prices charged by the nation's 10 regional electric utilities. Since the start of 1996, independent power producers have been able to wholesale electricity to these former monopolies. Beginning next April, they also will be free to sell power directly to industrial users. TEXACO INC., for one, believes that these opportunities are worth exploring. It and KOA OIL CO., LTD. have agreed to study the feasibility of moving into the IPP business, including building power plants at Koa Oil's two refineries. Industry sources say that the two have their eye on sales to KANSAI ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC. and CHUBU ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC. If they do win contracts, the same insiders add, Texaco and Koa Oil will build a 500,000-kilowatt thermal power plant at the Japanese company's Marifu, Yamaguchi prefecture refinery as well as at the one in Osaka. They could be operational as soon as 2003. Using Texaco technology, these power-generating facilities could sell electricity for 20 percent to 30 percent less than what Japan's electric utilities charge. Texaco and Koa Oil have no time frame for reaching a decision. Until recently, the American oil major owned 25 percent of its prospective Japanese partner (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 18).
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
CITIGROUP INC. and NIKKO SECURITIES CO., LTD. are offering consumers the convenience of one-stop shopping for financial services on an experimental basis. CITIBANK N.A. has taken over one floor of Nikko Securities' Gotanda office in the Shinagawa area of Tokyo, offering investment trusts (Japanese-style mutual funds) and money-management advice as well as regular banking services. The big brokerage house sells its own financial products on two other floors. This is the first tie- up between Citigroup and Nikko Securities on the retail side of the financial services business since the holding company became the top investor in the securities firm and the Japanese broker's investment banking and institutional trading operations were spun off into a joint venture with Citigroup's SALOMON SMITH BARNEY INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 19).
Detailing its retail strategy for Japan, major investment bank/brokerage house MORGAN STANLEY DEAN WITTER & CO. said that it would use four channels to distribute financial products and services to individual investors. Before the start of 2000, the company will open a branch office, presumably in the Tokyo area, to offer clients investment trusts and other products. At this time, executives indicated, Morgan Stanley is not planning to acquire an existing retail brokerage network like rival MERRILL LYNCH & CO., INC. did, although that option always is a possibility, the same insiders said. A tie-up with SANWA BANK, LTD. will provide a second distribution channel. Under this arrangement, the first Morgan Stanley has formed with a Japanese financial institution, the nationwide commercial bank will sell a number of the New York City firm's mutual funds at its branches starting this fall. The same products also might be available through four securities firms affiliated with Sanwa Bank. At several of the bank's branches, personnel from Morgan Stanley and Sanwa Bank will collaborate to get a better feel for exactly what types of money-management products are of greatest interest to individual Japanese investors and to try out various sales methods. The financial services provider also envisions similar deals with other Japanese financial institutions. These agreements will provide a third retail sales avenue. Finally, Morgan Stanley's on-line brokerage unit, DISCOVER BROKER-AGE DIRECT, INC., will offer Internet trading. The specifics of this move still need to be worked out, but the service probably will not be launched until the latter part of 2000, even though Japan will completely deregulate brokerage commissions October 1. Moreover, according to current thinking, Morgan Stanley will not steeply discount its charges to attract customers to its on-line trading activities. Instead, it plans to depend on the quality and the breadth of its services to win business, including the ability of its customers to invest directly in all the world's major stock markets.
Any number of companies, foreign and domestic, are betting that, in time, on-line investing will become just as popular in Japan as it is in the United States. However, some American financial services providers are content for now to take a minority position in one of the Internet trading start-ups rather than spearhead the projected revolution in Japanese retail investing. For instance, J.P. MORGAN & CO., INC. acquired a small stake in MONEX INC., an on-line brokerage formed last spring by SONY CORP. and a former investment banker. Through this venture, which expects to start operations in October, the New York City bank holding company hopes to find a market for its financial advisory services. J.P. Morgan already has extensive operations in Japan, including a tie-up with DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD. in the asset-management field (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 18).
Within five years, AMERICAN EXPRESS ASSET MANAGEMENT INTERNATIONAL (JAPAN) LTD. wants to be managing $1 billion of assets for Japanese institutional investors. A primary means to this end is to offer financial products, particularly stock mutual funds, to the investment managers of corporate pension plans. Until now, AmEx Asset Management's main focus has been selling investment products to the more than 1.1 million AMERICAN EXPRESS CO. cardholders in Japan.
Setting the stage for its biggest move to date in Japan, the Tokyo District Court tentatively cleared the sale of bankrupt NIPPON ASSET MANAGEMENT INC.'s operations to GMAC COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE CORP. The Tokyo company was established earlier this year after JAPAN LEASING CORP., formerly part of the now- nationalized LONG-TERM CREDIT BANK OF JAPAN, LTD., sold its equipment leasing business to GE CAPITAL CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, pp. 16-17). The 150-employee Nippon Asset Management took over Japan Leasing's real estate and other assets. They have a book value of about $8.8 billion. Once the court approves Nippon Asset Management's restructuring plan, which must be submitted by the end of November, GMACCM will be free to take over its businesses and employees. The second-largest nonbank financial concern in the United States has been one of the biggest buyers and securitizers of property-backed nonperforming loans in Japan.
Cleaning up another part of the mess caused by the bankruptcy of LONG-TERM CREDIT BANK OF JAPAN, LTD., the company trying to find a buyer for the bank, GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO., purchased part of the real estate-backed loan portfolio of failed NIPPON LANDIC CO., LTD., a LTCB nonbank affiliate. The loans bought by Goldman, Sachs have an estimated book value of $1.2 billion. They are expected to be securitized. .....Meanwhile, GOLDMAN, SACHS & CO. now is one of the 19 companies, eight of them foreign-affiliated, that the Ministry of Justice has licensed to serve as loan servicers. These companies are authorized to collect payments on property-backed loans for the lenders or for the buyers of nonperforming loan portfolios. They also can manage the underlying collateral. That right extends to selling it to third parties. The new, 12-person Goldman, Sachs loan servicing unit is handling the loans and the related properties acquired by its parent. GMAC COMMERCIAL MORTGAGE CORP. and CERBERUS PARTNERS, L.P. are among the other American investors that have their own loan-servicing units (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 19).
A new source of financing and managerial help will be available this fall for Internet- related start-ups. NETYEAR GROUP, INC. of Redwood City, California has opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo to scout out promising e-businesses to bankroll and get the ones that pass its test up and running. The money will come from Netyear Knowledge Capital Partners, which hopes to raise as much as some $17.7 million. Netyear expects to invest in five Internet ventures within the first two months and then 10 to 20 companies a year. It will invest as much as $442,500 in any one company, subject to a limit of half of the start-up's financing. Netyear was established by the holding company for Japan-based systems integrator INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD., but it became independent in October 1998 through a management buyout.
In a decision aimed at expanding its core operation, AMERICAN EXPRESS CO. will unveil this fall a credit card designed specifically for small businesses. Available in the United States but now nowhere else in the world, the card will have a preapproved credit line of $4,400 and will enable holders to receive discounts on a variety of goods and services, including office supplies, hotels, restaurants and car rentals. AmEx's subsidiary will market the card to small businesses through direct mailings.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
The first T.G.I. Friday's restaurant with its American bistro menu has opened in Japan. Located in the Shibuya area of Tokyo near other popular U.S. brands, the casual dining restaurant has seating for 215 guests and will employ some 120 people. It is run by licensed franchisee T.G.I. FRIDAY'S JAPAN, INC., a joint venture between the Dallas company of the same name, which is a subsidiary of CARLSON RESTAURANTS WORLDWIDE INC., and WATAMI FOOD SYSTEMS CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 16).
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Japan might be trapped in a nearly decade-long slump, but demand for fine jewelry and accessories apparently still is so strong that TIFFANY & CO. plans to inaugurate its 45th outlet in the country. The newest store, scheduled to open in early November, will be located in the Usui Department Store in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture.
A LEVI STRAUSS & CO. trying to regain momentum in Japan is franchising its Original Levi's Store retailing concept. The first such outlet, which carries Levi's-brand jeans, shirts and the like targeted at teenagers and young adults, is located in the Harajuku section of Tokyo. In time, the San Francisco company could open franchise stores in Osaka and other major cities. Interestingly, none of the company's three directly owned stores are located in the capital. That could change, Levi Strauss says, if the franchised shop is a success.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
With the high-end SLA 7000 Production SolidImager from 3D SYSTEMS CORP. shipping (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 21), exclusive distributor INCS CORP. now can offer manufacturers of all sizes and budgets a solid imaging system that will enable them to quickly and cost-effectively make accurate, detailed parts and prototypes. The SLA Series includes four models, ranging from the entry-level SLA 250 through the SLA 7000. With this lineup and the aggressive pricing strategy that it has adopted, Kawasaki, Kanagawa prefecture INCS, which also installs and services Valencia, California 3D Systems' equipment, hopes to sell 35 SLA Series machines in 1999 versus the 25 delivered last year.
DRYVAC ENVIRONMENTAL, INC., the developer of a dewatering technology for waste treatment and disposal, has licensed its technology to a Matsuto, Ishikawa prefecture company. The agreement gives the Japanese firm not only access to the Rio Vista, California company's technology but also allows it to manufacture the system. That could start as early as 2000, although the licensee first will import equipment for demonstration purposes. The DryVac filter-press know-how enables sludges and other products to be dried to 100 percent solids in conventional presses without any additional equipment. As a result, solid volumes and weights can be reduced by anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent more than traditional processes for dewatering sludge in about the same time and at a competitive cost.
A new, high-efficiency gas turbine engine from ROLLS-ROYCE ALLISON, INC. (formerly Allison Engine Co.) that generates up to 10,400 kilowatts of power per hour has given HITACHI ZOSEN CORP. additional options for designing cogeneration systems. The Allison 601-K11 is the largest gas turbine marketed by the Japanese company, which also distributes the midrange Allison 601-K9 gas turbine for generator sets. Indianapolis-headquartered Rolls-Royce Allison says that both lightweight, modular products incorporate technological enhancements that improve performance, durability, reliability, cost and emissions.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Seemingly determined to cover all price points and levels of sophistication in the digital camera market, EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary is marketing a model for beginners that is 35 percent smaller than any other digital camera it has offered. The aluminum-en-cased DC215 Zoom Digital Camera features a 1-million-pixel CCD for crisp, vivid color pictures and a 2X wide-angle zoom lens for close-ups. It also has a 1.8-inch color LCD that lets users preview and review pictures. Including a PC connection cable and image-processing software, the DC215 Zoom has an estimated street price of $350.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Although details are scarce, CATAPULT COMMUNICATIONS of Mountain View, California has made the first sale of its software-based test system for third-generation or wideband CDMA (code-division multiple access) wireless protocol telephony products. The buyer is FUJITSU, LTD. 3G is a next-generation wireless technology that is expected to deliver wireless voice services with the same quality levels of wireline telephony. That capability will bring the speed and the capacity needed to support multimedia and high-speed data applications.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has added a third model to the Infiniium line of oscilloscopes. The 1-GHz HP 54835A fills the gap between a 500-MHz model and a 1.5-GHz model and gives electronics firms designing digital circuitry in the 500-MHz to 1-GHz bandwidth range a lower-priced alternative to using the $35,400 system for applications requiring 1.5 GHz of bandwidth. The new Infiniium product, which offers as many as four channels operating at 1 GHz and sampling rates up to 4 GSa/s, lists for $25,300. With the expanded line, HP Japan expects to sell 1,000 Infiniium oscilloscopes a year.
An ultra-high-speed video recording system that can record up to 4,500 full frames per second or as many as 40,500 pictures per second in partial frame mode is on the market from EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s subsidiary. Developed by the company's San Diego, California Motion Analysis Systems Division, the KODAK EKTAPRO HS Motion Analyzer Model 4540 is designed for the analysis of extremely rapid events, such as airbag deployment. Equipped with an electronic memory, the system can store a maximum of 5,120 full frames or a tops of 81,920 pictures for instant replay. Later, the stored images can be downloaded to standard videotape for future reference. Kodak priced the motion analyzer from $136,300.
The first product line introduced in Japan since EASTMAN KODAK CO. bought IMATION CORP.'s medical imaging business last December is the KODAK DRYVIEW family of laser imaging systems for medical films. The five models making up the line can be configured to print images directly from almost any imaging modality. Alternatively, the modality images can be converted to the DICOM format and sent over a network for fast, affordable printing. The KODAK DRYVIEW Laser Imagers also automate the quality-control process.
In a further realignment of its business in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22), the GE Medical Systems unit of GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. reportedly will give SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. the rights to make and market its compact, high-speed accelerators for positron emission tomography diagnostic imaging systems. SHI, which is a leading maker of accelerators, also will sell equipment supplied by GE Medical Systems for preparing agents that hospitals use for diagnostic imaging. The pending Japanese partner anticipates that the arrangement will triple its PET-related sales to $26.6 million a year. What effect the relationship with SHI will have on the business of GE-YOKOGAWA MEDICAL SYSTEMS, LTD., the marketer of GE Medical Systems' diagnostic equipment, is not clear.
THERMO CARDIOSYSTEMS INC. the developer of the first FDA-approved implantable heart-assist system designed to allow heart-transplant candidates to return home while waiting for a donor heart has given NISSHO CORP. marketing rights to the electric HeartMate left-ventricular-assist system. Now that surgeons in Japan have started to perform organ transplants, Nissho expects a market to develop for the Woburn, Massachusetts manufacturer's product. The big maker of medical consumables could begin clinical trials of the HeartMate before yearend. It aims to import and market it within a year or two.
The Health and Welfare Ministry cleared for commercial release MEDTRONIC, INC.'s GFX2 coronary stent system for use in the treatment of coronary artery disease. The product features several improvements over its predecessor, the GFX. .....MHW also approved for use SPINAL CONCEPTS, INC.'s titanium BacFix thoracolumbar spinal fixation system, which provides temporary stability to the thoracic, thoracolumbar or lumberspine from T1 to S1. The Austin, Texas company says that its system has several advantages over typical thoracolumbar spinal systems, headed by the elimination of any intraoperative assembly. KOTOBUKI IKA SHOJI CO., LTD., an Osaka-based distributor of orthopedic implants, will market BacFix.
Alameda, California-based INSITE VISION INC. gave exclusive manufacturing and marketing rights to its AquaSite sustained-release dry-eye treatment to SSP CO., LTD. The Tokyo pharmaceutical company expects production to begin by early 2000. InSite sees Japan as a key market for its particular area of expertise: genetically based glaucoma diagnostics and treatment.
The world's number-two provider of integrated dialysis services for people suffering from chronic kidney failure is moving into the Japanese market. As a first step, TOTAL RENAL CARE HOLDINGS, INC., which owns and operates freestanding kidney dialysis centers and home peritoneal dialysis programs across the United States as well as in some other countries and provides acute hemodialysis services to patients at some 330 hospitals, has set up a Tokyo subsidiary and initiated discussions with a number of hospitals about taking over their dialysis operations. More immediately, the Torrance, California company hopes by yearend to have two of its own dialysis centers functioning. Total Renal Care reportedly is the first foreign company to attempt to provide medical services in Japan.
A second American company has set its sights on Japan's domestically controlled syringe market, although the specific targets of the two differ. BAXTER INTERNATIONAL INC.'s subsidiary is going after 10 percent of sales of syringe pumps, which deliver precise amounts of infusions to patients. The Deerfield, Illinois company's initial entry is the Auto Syringe AS50 Infusion Pump. Able to deliver intravenous solutions, drug solutions and whole or packed red blood cells in neonatal, anesthesiology and critical-care situations, the pump accepts syringe sizes ranging from 1 milliliter to 60 mL. The AS50 costs $3,500. For its part, BECTON DICKINSON AND CO. is trying to create a demand for prefillable syringes (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 22).
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
The world semiconductor industry has been in a constant state of flux over the last two years or so, with new production alliances being forged just as long-standing ones are dissolved. By the end of 2000, the latter category will include the Sendai, Miyagi prefecture wafer-fabrication venture between MOTOROLA INC. and TOSHIBA CORP. The big American chipmaker has agreed to buy out its equal partner in TOHOKU SEMICONDUCTOR CORP. on terms that were not disclosed. The company, now capitalized at $44.2 million, was formed in 1987 primarily to give the two access to each other's technical strengths: DRAMs for Motorola and microprocessors and other logic devices for Toshiba. Memory production ended in 1997 after Motorola decided to exit the DRAM business. Since then, both of TSC's front ends have been used for logic products, which currently include microcontroller units, flash-embedded MCUs and DSPs (digital signal processors). Toshiba apparently decided that it had derived all the benefits from the manufacturing tie-up that it could achieve and initiated talks with Motorola about the future of TSC. After the firm becomes a wholly owned Motorola subsidiary, it will make Digital DNA embedded processors, which are used in consumer, networking and computing, transportation and wireless communications applications. Motorola says that none of Tohoku Semiconductor's 1,400-plus jobs will be lost. In fact, Motorola is in the process of integrating its Japan semiconductor operations in the Sendai area. About 60 percent of the 1,000 people who work for NIPPON MOTOROLA LTD.'s semiconductor division are being transferred there, including R&D staff. In a totally unrelated decision, Toshiba recently agreed to buy out INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s half interest in a Virginia DRAM wafer manufacturing venture (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, pp.8-9).
ON SEMICONDUCTOR, L.L.C., the world's largest maker of discrete, standard analog and standard logic semiconductor components, is the newest player in Japan's semiconductor market. The Phoenix, Arizona-headquartered company was formed in August when TEXAS PACIFIC GROUP bought part of MOTOROLA INC.'s semiconductor business. ON Semiconductor is the trade name of SCG HOLDINGS CORP. Its new Tokyo sales, marketing and customer-support subsidiary goes by the name of SCG JAPAN LTD. Among ON Semiconductor's far-flung manufacturing locations is a wafer-fabrication complex in Aizu, Fukushima prefecture that Motorola opened in 1980 to make logic and memory products.
Four midsize American chipmakers also have moved into the Japanese market, all by tying up exclusively with NIHON DENKEI CO., LTD. This Tokyo company, a marketer of electronic measuring instruments, is representing: ANALOG MICROELECTRONICS, INC. of Santa Clara, California, which specializes in analog chips for measuring equipment; AUSTIN SEMICONDUCTOR, INC., an Austin, Texas supplier of high- reliability memory products and memory modules for the space and military industries; Sunnyvale, California-based CERMETEK MICROELECTRONICS, INC., which provides chips for modems; and neighbor IMPALA LINEAR CORP., a maker of DC/DC converters for mobile phones and other communications products. Nihon Denkei believes that each of the four company will have local sales of anywhere from $885,000 to $1.8 million the first year.
For its part, market newcomer DVDO, INC. named MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. to distribute its line of video-processing ICs to manufacturers of digital TVs, projection systems and flat-panel displays. The Campbell, California firm's newest product, the DV101 Image Enhancement Engine, incorporates its PureProgressive video-enhance-ment technology. It will be the first DVDO chip that MEI handles. The part will be marketed to makers of digital TV, LCD, plasma, DLP (digital light processing) and other progressively scanned display devices.
In conjunction with its stronger emphasis on Asian sales, RADISYS CORP., a supplier of Intel-based embedded chipsets, signed ASAHI ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and OKAYA ELECTRONICS CORP. to market its products to OEM customers in the communications, industrial automation and other fields. Both companies already distribute INTEL CORP. processors and associated parts. Hillsboro, Oregon RadiSys has a subsidiary in Yokohama.
The fastest Pentium III processor that INTEL CORP. has developed is shipping to computer manufacturers in Japan as well as in the United States. The 600-MHz version of the chip is designed to deliver the full power and richness of the Internet to Web surfers as well as to enhance such business applications as e-com-merce, data visualization, streaming audio, video and speech recognition. In the United States, the 600-MHz Pentium III with 512 KB of L2 cache costs $670 each in quantities of 1,000 units. The high-end processor now is available in speeds of 450 MHz, 500 MHz, 550 MHz and 600 MHz.
In another worldwide release, INTEL CORP., which claims the title of the world's top maker of flash memories, announced the 3-Volt Intel StrataFlash with triple the read performance of its predecessor. The result of 0.25-micron processing technology, the part enables both code execution and data storage on a single, high-density 128- megabit chip. The 3-Volt Intel StrataFlash also is said to offer the most storage in a NOR-type flash device. These capabilities give new design options to manufacturers of handheld devices, smart phones, PC companions, networking equipment, set-top boxes and other Internet-connected appliances. Volume shipments of 128-Mb 3-Volt Intel StrataFlash parts were set for September at U.S. prices of $29.90 each in 1,000- unit quantities. In the first quarter of next year, Intel is scheduled to introduce 32-Mb and 64-Mb versions of the new part.
Users of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s 3000 to 6500 Enterprise servers now can double the top factory-installed system memory of these Unix products, thanks to the 2- GB DRS702/2048 memory board from DATARAM CORP. The Princeton, New Jersey manufacturer selected COMPUTER DYNAMICS CORP. to market the $14,800 product. The Tokyo distributor thinks that it can sell 1,000 boards a year to the substantial number of Sun installations in Japan.
SIRF TECHNOLOGY, INC. a developer of chipsets that deliver the locational benefits of GPS (global positioning system) technology to wireless handheld products, car navigation systems, PC-based platforms and consumer devices has licensed its intel-lectual property to two more Japanese companies. NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. will integrate the Santa Clara, California company's just-announced SiRFLoc know-how into its DoCoMo Location Platform. SiRFLoc is a platform-specific technology that improves GPS location capabilities in wireless systems. At the same time, AISIN AW CO., LTD. incorporated SiRF's GPS architecture into its line of car navigation systems.
In another design win for an American company, the PM-44+ iDSP from OAK TECHNOLOGY, INC. is the imaging solution for select scanners and digital copiers introduced by FUJITSU, LTD. and HITACHI KOKI CO., LTD. Fujitsu integrated the Andover, Massachusetts company's part into its M3090 series of departmental and production scanners, while Hitachi Koki used the chip in its DDS32 digital copier, the company's first such product. Oak Technology's iDSP family is said to represent the only line of DSPs designed specifically for digital imaging equipment. It combines high image-processing throughput rates with the flexibility of a programmable DSP architecture.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. named MACNICA, INC. to distribute a pair of CMOS color image sensors with digital output and timing controller for such applications as PC cameras, digital still cameras and surveillance and security video cameras. The difference between the two sensors is the array size: 640 x 480 (the HDCS-2000) or 352 x 288 (the HDCS-1000). Both are said to offer excellent image quality with low power consumption.
With technical input from SONY CORP., the promoter of the Direct Stream Digital format for Super Audio CD players, BURR-BROWN CORP. developed the DSD1700. It is the Tucson, Arizona manufacturer's first DSD audio digital-to-analog converter. In combination with Sony's DSD decoder, the part will deliver the high performance and the sound quality that DSD technology promises. Sampling of the DSD1700 will start later this year. It is targeted to be priced at $14.50 per unit in quantities of 100.
In a somewhat surprising move, AMERICAN MICROSYSTEMS, INC., a Pocatello, Idaho supplier of mixed-signal ASICs (application-specific ICs) and other semicustom mixed-signal devices, outsourced assembly and testing of certain plastic-packaged parts to FUJI-TSU VLSI, LTD. The deal marks the first time that the wholly owned FUJITSU, LTD. company has won a contract from a company outside the Fujitsu Group. Fujitsu VLSI will handle back-end processes for roughly 10,000 AMI chips a month at its facility in Gifu prefecture. AMI, a JAPAN ENERGY CORP. company, will do final inspection.
Under an arrangement that will expand the availability of TESSERA INC.'s chip-scale packaging, especially in Japan, the San Jose, California company licensed its Micro BGA (ball-grid array) technology to NORTH CORP. The agreement specifically covers the Tessera Compliant Mounting Tape technology, which is used in the assembly of Micro BGA packages. North will provide the tape to Tessera contract assembly licensees that make the package.
Effective September 1, the complete product portfolio of the Eaton Semiconductor Equipment Operations unit of EATON CORP. will be represented in Japan by SUMITOMO HEAVY INDUSTRIES, LTD. Last April, Beverly, Massachusetts-based Eaton Semiconductor gave SHI the job of selling, distributing, servicing and supporting its thermal processing equipment line. Now, it has transferred responsibility for sales and support of its resist-strip and photostabilization equipment to SHI from TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. This centralization is a natural extension of the 15-year, Toyo, Nagasaki prefecture-based production and marketing joint venture between Eaton Semiconductor and Sumitomo Heavy Industries on the Eaton Nova line of ion implantation equipment.
APPLIED MATERIALS, INC., the world's largest supplier of wafer fabrication systems, has introduced two more products in Japan. One is the SiNgen Centura, a single- wafer, low-pressure chemical vapor deposition system for depositing critical silicon nitride film layers in the transistor structures of 0.18-micron and smaller devices. The Santa Clara, California manufacturer notes that SiN films have an increasingly significant impact on chip performance as line geometries move below 0.18 micron. The $2.7 million or so SiNgen Centura combines Applied Materials' production- proven, single-wafer xZ chamber technology and Centura platform with a state-of-the- art nitride deposition system. The second new product is the Mirra chemical mechanical polishing system with its throughput of more than 50 wafers an hour. The Mirra, which also costs about $2.7 million, features the Titan Head wafer-polishing carrier. It rotates the wafer during the polishing process and, according to Applied Materials, provides uniformity and repeatability among wafers. The other strength of the Mirra, the company says, is technology that detects film thickness changes during polishing. This capability allows the user to precisely define material removal and, thus, the process endpoint.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
With forecasts showing that half of all Web surfers in Japan will be women by 2003, WOMEN.COM NETWORKS, INC. hopes to mine this potentially rich market. Already the top Internet destination for women in the United States, the San Mateo, California company has teamed up with MITSUI COMTEK CORP. to translate existing Women.com content into Japanese for uploading under license to the Living Ladies Community site run by SANKEI LIVING SHIMBUN INC. The combination offers Japanese women the depth of Women.com's coverage of women's issues and the local perspective of Sankei Living and Mitsui Comtek through their contributions of unique material.
Even before the launch of its Internet store for new cars and light trucks (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 25), AUTOBYTEL.COM INC.'s subsidiary has formed a partnership with RECRUIT CO., LTD., AUCNET INC. and GULLIVER INTERNATIONAL CORP. in preparation for selling used vehicles on-line. The virtual used-car lot is expected to open in spring 2000; new car sales will start in November. Buyers will complete an on-line form detailing exactly what they are looking for in a used vehicle. The Autobytel operation then will forward the request to the participating dealer closest to the customer, who will be contacted by e-mail.
Hoping to tap the bargain-hunting side of Japanese Web surfers as well as their pocketbooks, EBAY INC. has signed a deal with NTT-ME INFORMATION XING, INC. to provide access to its on-line auction system via the NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. subsidiary's Goo Web portal. Goo already attracts 10 million page hits a day, making it the number-two portal in Japan. NTT-X expects access to San Jose, California-based eBay's auction system to boost this number. This is eBay's initial entry into the Japanese market.
To support the rapidly expanding volume of on-line commerce, makers of back-end payment systems are showering the market with new products. For example, ECHARGE CORP. has opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo to sell and support its no credit-card settlement system. eCHARGE adds on-line shopping charges to existing monthly bills, such as for telephone service. Officials of the Seattle company claim that their system reduces the chance of credit-card information falling into the wrong hands, a marketing thrust that should play well with Japanese consumers. The eCHARGE subsidiary plans to sign business alliances with operators of virtual shops and malls, including NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.
The world leader in back-end e-commerce services, CYBERCASH, INC., is not taking it easy. It has added MITSUI & CO., LTD. to the list of 11 Japanese firms backing its technology and Tokyo-based subsidiary. The trading company invested $1.3 million in the CyberCash affiliate for a 10 percent stake. It ranks as the third-largest investor in the operation, which was formed in April 1997, after the Reston, Virginia company's parent (40 percent) and SOFTBANK CORP. (16 percent). Mitsui will help CyberCash market its real-time credit-card payment processing services.
A third pair in this market segment HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. and NEC CORP. has finished codeveloping a virtual point-of-sale program and launched a combined marketing effort (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 24). vPOS 4.5J is written entirely in Japanese. It can handle a wide variety of demands, everything from single stores ($5,400) to unlimited on-line Internet malls ($31,600). Together, HP Japan and NEC expect to sell 200 copies of the package in the first year. VERIFONE, INC., a HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. company, is the originator of vPOS.
VALUECLICK INC., the pioneer in pay-per-click Internet advertising, is so pleased with its nascent Japanese sales initiative that it has taken ownership control of its 15- month-old joint venture and plans further international expansion. While upping its stake in the subsidiary to 54 percent from 32 percent by buying shares from JAFCO CO., LTD., the Carpinteria, California company retained its marketing partnership with TRANS PACIFIC LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 348, September 1998, p. 16). ValueClick's Japanese unit hopes to target Web site operators in other Asian countries, offering localized, turnkey Internet advertising solutions.
Irvine, California-based WEBZTER CORP. has similar Asia-focused expansion plans. The high-end Web site/e-commerce developer has opened offices in Tokyo as well as in Hong Kong and Singapore. The Tokyo facility, which also will service South Korea, plans to sell a full line of Internet consulting services. These range from corporate reengineering for Internet-based operations and Internet media buying programs to Web site design and development.
To boost sales and use of its MP3-based on-line music distribution and play software, LIQUID AUDIO, INC. licensed its know-how free of charge to MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TOSHIBA CORP. for incorporation into their portable digital music players. The Redwood City, California firm's SP3 program handles the downloading of music from the Web while preventing illegal copying of protected digital works. Liquid Audio moved into the Japanese market last September (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 22).
A global leader in engineering know-how, ENGINEERING INFORMATION INC., plans a fully localized version of its award-winning Internet site for architectural and construction services. Japanese engineers will have access from their desktop to a huge pool of archived and current information, including Ei's CompendexWeb engineering data base, 40 other engineering-related data bases, 30,000 relevant Web sites, patent and standards information, current product catalogs and the full texts of engineering journals and articles deliverable via Internet fax. The Japanese version of Engineering Information Village will go live in October.
Westport, Connecticut-based INTERNET.COM CORP. has brought its information resources for the Internet industry and Internet technology professionals to Japan. With the help of Tokyo's COMMUNICATION ONLINE INC., internet.com launched the japan.inter-net.com Web site. It provides entirely in Japanese the latest news and editorial content on the rapidly evolving Internet business. The partners hope to attract local advertising yen by offering space on the site's 45 e-mail newsletters, 55 on-line discussion forums and 52 moderated e-mail discussion lists.
The subsidiary of Internet hardware giant CISCO SYSTEMS, INC. has completed shifting all its customer support services to the Internet. The SmartNet service provides periodic software upgrades and 24x7 remote troubleshooting to purchasers of Cisco's switches and routers. The service goal is to diagnose problems within one day of receiving a request and then, if needed, to dispatch support personnel from one of the more than 100 Japanese companies with which Cisco works.
Software developed by CENTRA SOFTWARE, INC. that powers on-line learning and business collaboration is now available from MACNICA, INC. The Lexington, Massachusetts firm's Centra 99 is used by more than 150,000 companies worldwide. It has become the de facto standard for conducting business-to-business events over the Internet. Tokyo-based Macnica not only is selling Centra 99 but also offers after- sale support, training and localization services.
With the explosion of local interest in getting information on-line, STARBURST SOFTWARE has tied up with HITACHI INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. to offer a complete content-distribution solution. The Concord, Massachusetts firm and the HITACHI, LTD. subsidiary will market, sell and support StarBurst Software's OmniCast product, which can simultaneously broadcast content via the Internet to thousands of recipients. Moreover, because it works seamlessly with existing intranets/extranets, OmniCast is simple to install, integrate and operate.
The booming Japanese market for handheld, Internet-capable communication devices also is attracting more foreign interest. For instance, SPYGLASS INC. licensed its Internet content-delivery platform for handhelds to SEIKO EPSON CORP. for use in a new generation of cellular telephones. The Naperville, Illinois firm's SpyglassPrism proxy server not only provides a full range of telephone functions but also includes a Web browser, information directory, a road map data base and other personal information services. Spyglass-Prism automatically identifies the device requesting information, then dynamically reformats the desired content to fit the handheld's small screen.
Following its acquisition of PROXINET, INC. of Emeryville, California, PUMA TECHNOLOGY, INC. is offering a competing product but one with a slightly different thrust. By combining its Intellisync synchronization package with ProxiNet's proxy- based data and content transformation software, Puma Technology's package reformats information on the fly for small handheld devices, just like SpyglassPrism. Intellisync, however, automatically and efficiently ensures that data files stored on remote servers and on the personal device are identical. The subsidiary of San Jose, California Puma Technology is marketing the integrated product.
With the broader market for intelligent TV-related devices in mind, ORACLE CORP.'s local arm is offering Liberate Connect ISP Suite 1.5J. Licensed from Redwood Shores, California-based LIBERATE TECHNOLOGIES (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 11), the package helps ISPs manage the deployment and the support of set-top boxes, game consoles, Internet TVs and embedded Internet devices. For prices starting at $153,100 for 500 users, the software allows ISPs to deliver value- added services to customers using existing network architectures and front-end/back- end software. As a companion, Oracle's subsidiary is selling Liberate TV Card SDK 1.1J, a $15,900 software development kit for the network interface card.
IBM JAPAN LTD. has rolled out a new version of its popular talking Web browser, Home Page Reader. The $130 Japanese-language package reads Web pages aloud as they are downloaded, enabling visually challenged people to surf the Internet without special equipment. The latest edition includes a headline reader, fast-forward and jump-forward commands and full support for sending and receiving e-mail.
Targeting the large number of Japanese firms that want to contract out their e-mail system needs, CRITICAL PATH, INC. has teamed with MITSUI & CO., LTD. The trader will localize and exclusively market the San Francisco company's contract e-mail services, which run from the very basic to the highly customized.
INFORMATION RESOURCE ENGINEERING, INC. announced that NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE, LTD. has bought more of its secure business communications software and services. IRE provided its SafeNet/Trusted Services VPN (virtual private network) package for NRI's secure extranet system, which connects more than 13 brokerage houses for electronic trading communications. Since last year, NRI has protected its intranet with IRE's SafeNet/Security Center VPN software. The Baltimore company provides a complete solution, including design, implementation, operation and technical support.
ENCOMMERCE, INC.'s recently established subsidiary added NETONE SYSTEMS CO., LTD. as its third marketing partner (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 24). Demand for enCommerce's getAccess Web portal access- management software has been stronger than expected, leading the Santa Clara, California firm to bolster its marketing team. The package allows administrators to discourage unauthorized Web browsing and adds another layer of security.
WATCHGUARD TECHNOLOGIES, INC. is finding a ready market in Japan for its Internet broadcast security products. On the heels of landing a contract from INTERNET INITIATIVE JAPAN INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 27), the Seattle business announced that SOFTBANK CORP. and FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. would join its family of distributors. The WatchGuard LiveSecurity System takes a comprehensive approach to protecting networks and transmitted information, including a firewall/VPN module (WatchGuard Security Suite), a centralized management tool (WatchGuard Policy Manager) and an automatic network threat/antivirus update service (WatchGuard LiveSecurity Broadcast Service).
Two new authentication packages are on the market from SECURITY DYNAMICS TECHNOLOGIES, INC.'s subsidiary for its SecurID system. Token 2.0, which costs $355 for a 10-user license, generates single-use passwords to verify users while a network is being serviced or upgraded. That capability provides secure access during a period when normal protections may not be operating. For its part, ACE/Server 4.0 controls access to networked applications by authenticating users. A 25-user license for this program is $6,400.
With just weeks to go before January 1, 2000 arrives, MICROSOFT CORP.'s subsidiary released a Japanese-language version of the dominant PC operating system. Windows 98 Second Edition not only includes greater integration of Internet functions (Internet Explorer 5.0) and multimedia tools (Windows Media Player) but also readies PCs for the date rollover to the new millennium. A full version lists for $220, while an upgrade from earlier versions of Windows is likely to go for $120. Users of the original edition of Windows 98 need only pay about $9.00 for a CD-ROM of the upgrade.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is giving users of its Internet Advisor protocol analyzer that have purchased service contracts a free piece of software to detect Year 2000 issues in their HP equipment. Y2K Commentator analyzes user data and user- defined protocols in real time, looking for potential problems that might develop when 2000 starts. The package not only detects potential issues but offers repair recommendations.
Software developed by BASIS TECHNOLOGY CORP. has allowed LYCOS, INC. to fully localize its Japanese Web portal with a minimum of time and effort. The Cambridge, Massachusetts firm's Rosette C++-class library for UNICODE gives most C++ software packages the ability to handle multiple languages. Lycos not only employs Rosette to make Japanese the default language of its Japan Web presence, but the Internet portal operator also uses it to localize its products for the Korean and Chinese markets. Basis Technology is showcasing its work with Lycos to attract other Asian-minded Internet and software companies.
The insatiable demand for information infrastructure management solutions that can deal with mixed networks of legacy and new hardware and software has led INTEL CORP. to expand distribution and service capabilities for its LANDesk products. CORE CORP., a software value-added reseller, will coordinate the recruitment of what are called deployment VARs. These companies provide customers with a network of trained regional and national technicians experienced in deploying LANDesk products. Core also will sell Intel's family of network analysis and management tools and provide front-line customer service. LANDesk helps customers plan the development and the evolution of their heterogeneous networks as well as handling management functions.
SECURE COMPUTING CORP. of San Jose, California chose NETONE SYSTEMS CO., LTD. to distribute the latest version of its network firewall software. Sidewinder 4.1 takes advantage of advances in processor speeds and architectures, reducing the potential for the firewall to become a bottleneck to network traffic. NetOne Systems priced the package at $8,700. It hopes to sell 300 packages the first year.
With the takeover of Dallas-based ABIRNET, LTD. finalized, COMPUTER ASSOCIATES INTERNATIONAL, INC.'s subsidiary rolled out the latest version of Abirnet's network surveillance and intrusion detection package. SessionWall-3v1 Release 4 provides reports on network usage, content scanning, intrusion detections, blocking, alerting and logging. It also can monitor and enforce Internet access according to company-set policies and scan the content of e-mail messages to develop a data base to defend against future litigation. Available through FORVAL CREATIVE, INC., the new SessionWall-3 is priced from $2,700 for a 25-user license to $26,500 for an unlimited license.
Similarly, PICTURETEL CORP.'s marketing unit introduced a package developed by a 1998 acquisition. The StarWorks multimedia streaming package for networks is a product of PictureTel subsidiary STARLIGHT NETWORKS, INC. of Mountain View, California. For $151,300, StarWorks provides a complete set of tools that allow network managers to create and distribute streaming media services, such as videoconferencing, live and interactive multicasting and video on demand.
Racing to beat competing products from MICROSOFT CORP., the subsidiary of collaboration leader NOVELL, INC. released a localized version of its GroupWise 5.5 messaging server software. The package not only handles e-mail, appointment data and other types of messages, but it offers many document management capabilities as well. GroupWise has client packages for PCs running under any version of Windows as well as the Mac OS.
With Japanese executives taking a harder look at how assets contribute to the bottom line, GLOBETROTTER SOFTWARE, INC. is offering a product that improves the return on investments in software. The San Jose, California company's SAMsuite 3.0 provides a central control console to manage software usage over large and complex networks. It also generates software licensing fee data, usage reports, bill-back and other data that can help companies make the most of their software budgets. GLOBEtrotter tapped SOFTWARE RESEARCH ASSOCIATES, INC. to handle the software asset management package. Pricing starts at $22,100 for a single site license, plus $3,200 for an annual maintenance contract.
IBM JAPAN LTD. has bolstered its menu of enterprise application integration products by adding ENTERPRISELINK TECHNOLOGY CORP. to its Vendor Logo Product program. The Campbell, California firm and ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP., its marketing partner since March 1998, now can use IBM Japan's huge sales network to promote SmartTran eBusiness EAI solutions. SmartTran already has been deployed by such corporations as DAI-ICHI KANGYO BANK, LTD., NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP., SHARP CORP. and YASUDA LIFE INSURANCE CO. for internal purchasing networks and currency trading systems.
A competing EAI product from NEW ERA OF NETWORKS, INC. has been selected by SUMITOMO BANK, LTD. to complete the first phase of its Global Information System initiative. The bank will use the Englewood, Colorado firm's NEONet software to enable its applications and data bases to exchange information seamlessly, reducing the cost of its international banking operations. NEONet has been deployed by other top Japanese banks for similar reasons (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 24).
The Japanese unit of ANDERSEN CONSULTING LLP has crafted an enterprise resource planning package that meets the special needs of local governments. With many municipal budgets in the red, authorities are desperate to wring efficiencies from their operations and control their budgets. Andersen Consulting's ERP solution is based on PEOPLESOFT, INC.'s PeopleSoft 7.5 package. The consultant hopes to sign up at least 50 local governments to use its software and services by 2002.
In a powerful pairing, the subsidiaries of STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS RESEARCH CORP. the developer of the I-DEAS computer-aided design, manufacturing and engineering package and the Metaphase Enterprise product development management software and HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. have formed a partnership targeted at the PDM market. They will open a Metaphase Solution Center at SDRC's Tokyo offices that is staffed by employees from both companies with expertise in supporting information management requirements. The center initially will focus on the needs of automotive and electronics customers of SDRC and HP, including their supply chains, offering these manufacturers turnkey PDM solutions that address their business objectives. SDRC, which reportedly controls nearly half of the world PDM market, and HP plan to extend their collaboration in Japan to Europe and even the United States.
To kick-start sales of its newest sales force automation package, SIEBEL SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary will double its work force to 60 by the end of this year. The Menlo Park, California company hopes that this expansion will help to push sales of its Siebel 99.5 SFA package and other products to $106.2 million in 2000 from a projected 1999 total of $31 million. Part of this forecast depends on solid sales of a scaled-down version of Siebel 99.5 aimed at companies with less than 100 sales representatives. Both this version and the full-blown one designed for major corporations feature improved e-commerce functions.
Through its subsidiary, TIVOLI SYSTEMS INC. has rolled out a localized update of its customer assistance administration package. Priced from $41,200, Tivoli Service Desk 5.0.2J allows network managers to provide comprehensive help and other services with distributed resources following centralized policy guidelines. Integrating problem management, asset management and change management modules, the solution tracks customer interactions from start to finish. It uses artificial intelligence to bring the proper resources to bear on customer issues.
SAS INSTITUTE INC. has developed a data warehouse solution specifically for clinical test data. The PH.DataWare package, which its subsidiary has priced at $66,400, includes PH.Study Manager to apply the clinical study format to warehoused information and to document how data are handled and transformed. Other components are: PH.Documenter to publish the output of PH.Study Manager to an intranet or a document management system; PH.DataPilot to handle complex dependencies to update accurately tables and batch processes; PH.MetaBuilder to provide hooks to external programs for automatically downloading data or metadata; and PH.Interfaces to act as a gateway between PH.MetaBuilder and other clinical data management systems. The Cary, North Carolina company's marketing unit believes that it can sell 20 copies of the PH.DataWare package annually.
Market newcomer CAPTIVA SOFTWARE CORP., the leading supplier of forms- processing and document-capture products, has named NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. as its exclusive distributor. The San Diego, California developer simultaneously released Japanese versions of FormWare and Genesis. Captiva Software is convinced that it is moving into the Japanese market at the right time since domestic firms are interested in automating the now slow and costly manual collection of forms-based information but the availability of forms-processing and document- capture software is very limited. FormWare handles this task at the enterprise level, while Genesis offers a streamlined feature set for desktop users.
Financial analysis software developed by SS&C TECHNOLOGIES, INC. will power FUJITSU, LTD.'s attempt to enter the market for integrating and configuring investment management decision systems. Fujitsu will modify the Windsor, Connecticut firm's CAMRA 2000 and Antares 2000 packages to suit Japanese trading practices. Starting in December, it will target its sales pitch to investment advisers, insurance providers and trust banks. Fujitsu expects to price packages incorporating both software and services from $442,500. The company hopes to land 30 customers within three years.
Broadcasting and entertainment businesses in Japan no doubt will be interested in a new enterprise-strength, 3D, digital video software package from C-3D DIGITAL, INC. The Salt Lake City, Utah company signed an agreement with SOFTWARE TOO CORP. to distribute its complete line of Strata 3D and DV products, which allow broadcasters to deliver 3D entertainment to any standard television by converting two-dimensional films in real time. C-3D Digital already is in the programming end of the Japanese market through an arrangement with a company to broadcast its 3D content to premium TV subscribers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 31).
Creating clear, informative business diagrams is the purpose of VISIO CORP.'s upgraded eponymous software. The four editions of Visio 2000 Standard, Technical, Professional and Enterprise integrate closely with MICROSOFT CORP.'s Office suite, making it easy to add Visio diagrams to any Microsoft Office document. The Visio 2000 family also is Web-en-abled. That allows users to share diagrams over the Internet/intranet. It also supports Japanese phonetic alphabets and characters. Available through the Seattle company's subsidiary, the localized version of Visio 2000 Standard Edition is priced from $120 to $265.
WOLRFRAM RESEARCH, INC. released the latest version of its popular Mathematica technical computing package through SUMISHO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. Mathematica 4 grinds through complex mathematical formulas up to 10 times faster than its predecessor, requires half as much memory and is fully localized for Japan. Sumisho Electronics is promoting the new version of the Champaign, Illinois developer's product by initially offering it at the same price ($3,200) as the last release. It is eyeing first-year Mathematica 4 sales of 1,700 copies. To date, educational and research organizations have purchased annually some 1,500 copies of earlier Mathematica releases.
Translated versions of two popular MICROSOFT CORP. PC games will be available before the end of 1999. Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings is a strategy simulation that spans the millennium between the fall of Rome and the end of the Middle Ages. Players can choose from 13 cultures to rule and command. Flight Simulator 2000 provides a broader range of simulated aircraft and more realistic graphics.
New on the market from ADOBE SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary is the latest localized version of the industry-standard PhotoShop image-editing program. Version 5.5 integrates tools to create high-quality images for print or for the Web, reducing the need for other software and providing a unified creative environment for both types of media. .....Separately, ADOBE SYSTEMS, INC.'s Tokyo marketing unit linked up with MORISAWA & CO., LTD. to support the Osaka firm's Font NewCID software for embedding, displaying and printing Japanese outline fonts. Morisawa's product is compatible with Adobe's Acrobat 4.0, which is widely used to create documents that can be displayed regardless of hardware and software differences.
Through its subsidiary, STRUCTURAL DYNAMICS RESEARCH CORP. is offering updated CAD products targeted at both the high of the market and the middle. Gateways that allow the pair of 3D CAD products to collaborate with other software packages have been added to make them integral parts of supply chain management solutions. The two also have been Web-enabled for the Internet and corporate intranets. I-DEAS Master Series, Release 7, which starts at $12,400, and I-DEAS Artisan Series, Release 4, are available through INFORMATION SERVICES INTERNATIONAL-DENTSU, LTD., SDRC's longtime distributor. ISID is projecting combined sales of the two packages at 1,200 copies a year.
Palo Alto, California-headquartered ECHELON CORP. has teamed with YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP. to promote worldwide the use of its LonWorks open-standards manufacturing control software. YOKOGAWA M&C CORP. will develop a full line of LonWorks-compatible sensors, actuators and controllers, which its parent then will integrate and deploy in its manufacturing execution integration services. The Yokogawa Group hopes to generate $88.5 million in LonWorks-related sales over the next five years. As part of the arrangement, Yokogawa Electric joined the LonMark Interoperability Association as a sponsor, the first Japanese company to join at this top membership level. However, a number of Japanese firms are authorized integrators of Echelon's facilities control network software and hardware (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 32).
At an undisclosed price, MENTOR GRAPHICS CORP. and distributor ITOCHU TECHNO-SCIENCE CORP. have completed delivery and installation of a new hardware simulator system at multiple MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. sites. The giant electronics maker will use Mentor's Celaro hardware emulator to develop its next generation of large-scale system-on-a-chip designs. It anticipates that Celaro's established architecture will reduce verification time from weeks to days and also cut design cost on a scale of million of dollars per project.
Electronic design automation software developer ALDEC, INC. has tapped ASSETCORE TECHNOLOGY K.K. and ZYCAD TSS K.K., both of Yokohama, to distribute and support the three configurations of its Active-HDL tools. The Henderson, Nevada company's Active-HDL 3.6 VHDL tools are used to design field- programmable gate arrays. They are priced from $4,800 (Standard Edition) to $19,900 (Expert Edition).
A new signal-processing EDA tool for next-gener-ation cellular phones, digital cameras and high-defi-nition TVs is available from CADENCE DESIGN SYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary. Cierto automatically converts specification and design data into standard circuit-design languages, completing in a few hours a task that takes weeks manually. The program also has modules that simplify the design of wideband CDMA cell phones and MPEG-2 decoders. Cierto pricing begins at $99,600.
Japanese makers of high-end consumer electronics products will receive a new product pitch from VERI-BEST, INC. and exclusive marketing partner CADIX INC. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 31). They have taken the Boulder, Colorado firm's high-speed, high-density Expedition PCB (printed circuit board) design package and modified it to meet the special needs of local customers. Expedition's ability to shorten the design process, VeriBest and CADIX believe, can help manufacturers keep up with rapid changes in the consumer electronics market.
In what no doubt will give a boost to communications software developer TCSI CORP.'s Japan marketing efforts, the Alameda, California firm and NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. have completed installation of an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) control network for an unnamed government agency. Using TCSI's SolutionCore communications applications platform, NTT developed a highly scalable, robust ATM network management system in just six months. The SolutionCore variant, code-named Champion V3R2, manages a broadband network composed of a fabric of ATM switches from several vendors.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Internet and data communications traffic is straining capacity all along the network, including what is called the backhaul segment. A company to be formed by PACIFIC GATEWAY EXCHANGE, INC. and KDD SUBMARINE CABLE SYSTEMS INC. will tackle part of that bottleneck by building backhaul circuits between the landing stations in coastal Japan for undersea fiber-optic cable networks and major metropolitan centers and selling this capacity to communications carriers. The partners will employ a new architecture for backhaul networks by locating the cable terminating equipment in a specific city rather than at a cable landing point. This arrangement, say PGE and KDD-SCS, should result in a big cut in facility costs while also improving transmission and service quality. The joint venture, in which the Burlingame, California partner will be the majority (51 percent) owner, initially will install backhaul circuits between cable landing stations in Kanagawa and Chiba prefectures and central Tokyo. This work is scheduled to be completed by mid-2000. Pacific Gateway was among the first foreign communications carriers to receive a Type I license from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 26).
Two months ahead of schedule, AT&T CORP. and BRITISH TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC completed their strategic and operational partnership with JAPAN TELECOM CO., LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 30). In the biggest investment to date by foreign competitors in Japan's huge communications market, they acquired a combined 30 percent stake in the third-largest long-distance carrier at a cost of some $1.8 billion. Japan Telecom then turned around and took over AT&T's in-country data communications business, AT&T JENS CORP., as well as BT's communications services and network information services. The deal strengthens Japan Telecom's ability to deploy new services and technologies to its customers. More importantly, it gives AT&T and BT an established, nationwide channel to deliver the branded services of their international joint venture to multinational business customers and international carriers. The timing of the launch of those services hinges on U.S. regulatory approval.
Corporations and other high-volume telephone users have another choice in international services providers. Through its Hong Kong subsidiary, GTE CORP. began offering low-cost, flat-rate connections September 1 by leasing capacity from other carriers between Hawaii and Japan that is tied into publicly switched networks on both sides of the Pacific. GTE is charging 43 cents for a three-minute Japan-U.S. call at any hour of the day or night. That represents a savings of 80 percent over KDD CORP.'s daytime rates, for instance.
PSINET INC. made headlines in the business press last year by using acquisitions to become Japan's number-two ISP for corporate accounts (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 350, November 1998, p. 27). Now, the Herndon, Virginia company, which bills itself as the world's first and largest independent commercial ISP, has announced several initiatives designed to provide a complete Internet solution to its Japanese business customers. The starting point of this push is wholly owned PSINETWORKS JAPAN INC.'s recently received Type I license, which will allow the extension of PSINet's facilities-based IP network. Once the Japan-U.S. Cable Network becomes operational in mid-2000, the company, which has capacity on this undersea fiber-optic system, will use its operating authority to provide high-speed communications networking services to customers in Japan and elsewhere in Asia. In the interim, PSINet has committed as much as $265.5 million to build three Internet hosting centers in Japan, each with the capacity to house 5,000 servers. The 43,000-square- foot Tokyo Global Hosting Center is scheduled to open in mid-October. Equipped with its own power-generating system and designed to withstand an earthquake of the same magnitude as the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the facility will provide large- scale, high-reliability, fully managed services to other carriers and ISPs. Within the next two years, a second Internet hosting center will be built in the Tokyo area as well as one in the Kansai region. Moreover, by the end of September, PSINetworks Japan will introduce an economy service plan to corporate subscribers located within about nine miles of one of its Internet access points. Customers that sign up for this package will pay $3,000 a month, including $1,400, about half the normal charge, for fast (1.5 megabit per second) Internet access and the rest for the use of dedicated lines for other services.
Low-cost, high-speed Internet access finally will be available to homes in Japan, at least those in Tokyo and the surrounding area, in the summer of 2000. This breakthrough will be delivered by an unexpected source: SPEEDNET INC., a company formed by equal owners MICROSOFT CORP., SOFTBANK CORP. and TOKYO ELECTRIC POWER CO., INC. SpeedNet will use TEPCO's fiber-optic electricity transmission network. Subscribers will be linked to this backbone via an antenna-based technology known as a fixed wireless network. SpeedNet will bypass completely NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP.'s regional telephone network. Since the joint venture will not have to pay the stiff interconnection fees to NTT that are said to have retarded the growth of the Internet in Japan, the new ISP will be able to charge subscribers just a fraction of the $88.50 or so a month that NTT plans to bill for a forthcoming flat-rate Internet service plan. Moreover, SpeedNet customers will have a faster connection: 1 gigabit per second versus the 64-kilobit-per- second access that the communications giant will offer. Microsoft and Softbank are talking about tying up with some of Japan's other nine regional electric utilities to bring inexpensive, fast Internet access to their service areas.
Apartments, hotels, schools and any other place where there is a concentration of people can get fast Internet access for as little as $17.70 a month per unit. NICHIMEN CORP. is marketing this xDSL (digital subscriber line) service, which is made possible by ACUCOMM, INC. access products that the trader distributes (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 358, July 1999, p. 35). The Santa Clara, California company's equipment is much easier to install in existing buildings than, say, a local area network. At least for apartment residents, however, this means of Internet access can involve some heavy up-front costs since they or management must pay for the networking and customer premises equipment and its installation. Another potential drawback is that all the participants must sign up with the same ISP. Nonetheless, Nichimen is projecting revenues from the sale of AcuComm equipment at $17.7 million to $26.6 million in 2000.
JFAX.COM, an Internet-based messaging provider, has introduced its Unified Messaging service in Tokyo and Osaka through KUNI RESEARCH INTERNATIONAL CORP. The Los Angeles firm's service transforms a subscriber's e-mail box into a depository for faxes and voice mail as well as e-mail, with retrieval of e-mail and voice mail possible by phone or e-mail. People anywhere in the world can get a home or business phone number in Tokyo and Osaka from JFAX.COM, through which the company sends both faxes and voice mail.
Atlanta's IXL, INC., which advises Fortune 1000 companies on how the Internet can be used to their competitive advantage and draws on its in-house expertise to design, develop and deploy advanced Internet applications and solutions, has opened an office in Tokyo. Employees already are working with current iXL clients GENERAL ELECTRIC CO. and MERRILL LYNCH & CO., INC. to help them devise Internet strategies for Asia.
A second big-name company is distributing ESOFT INC.'s TEAM line of Linux-based Internet access products for small businesses. TOMEN CORP. joins NTT ELECTRONICS CORP. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 31) in handling the appliances, which provide low-cost LAN-to-Internet connectivity for companies with up to 200 workstations. Broomfield, Colorado eSoft's all-in-one devices include a Web server, firewall security, remote-access capability and VPN functionality.
Hoping to move farther into the Internet field, INTEL CORP.'s subsidiary is working with OKI ELECTRIC INDUSTRY CO., LTD., a big communications equipment maker that is trying to remake itself as an Internet-related firm, to develop computer-telephony devices for inexpensive but high-quality voice-over-Internet-Proto-col communications. The development partners will draw on advances in Intel's processor technology both to shrink the size of the "Internet phone" and to add other capabilities to it, such as voice playback of e-mail messages or fax transmissions. The products, which could be commercialized as soon as next year, will be targeted at the Japanese market.
Internet users interested in road or weather conditions in Iwate prefecture, one of Japan's main vacation areas, can get this information thanks to the local government's installation of VORAXRD.COM's AddView system. The Sunnyvale, California company calls its package the first complete Internet streaming video service. The Iwate prefecture installation consists of 54 cameras located along various roads, ISDN (integrated services digital network) links to local reflectors and satellite connections to the VoraRD.com AddView server in California. People accessing the service select the desired area from the 54-image menu. They then get a live image of traffic or weather at that location. A remote control feature allows the user to move the camera through a 160-degree arc and to zoom in on things of interest.
A video network platform developed by MINERVA SYSTEMS, INC. to address the video processing requirements of sophisticated IP networks is available from KANEMATSU ELECTRONICS LTD. The Mountain View, California company's Minerva VNP provides MPEG encoding and decoding for a variety of video networking applications. It incorporates an embedded processor running a real-time operating system as well as a state-of-the-art codec chip. Minerva claims that its MPEG network appliance is easier to integrate, more reliable, smaller in size and provides greater scalability than currently available PC-based encoders. Those features have led KEL to project sales of 300 systems in the first year at prices ranging from $11,300 to $36,700.
Having made a name for itself in the field of packet voice communications systems for voice/fax/data/video networking over IP, frame relay and circuit-switched networks, NUERA COMMUNICATIONS, INC. has moved into the Japanese market. The San Diego, California firm chose TERILOGY CO., LTD. to distribute two of its products. For carrier customers, Nuera offers its new ORCA (open, reliable communications architecture) Internet telephony gateway, which provides voice, fax, data and voice- band data signals across a broad range of packet transmission networks. ORCA delivers up to 2,000 voice channels per gateway. Among the many Access Plus models that Nuera makes for the corporate marketplace, Terilogy is selling a high- performance voice-over-frame-relay access device. The Access Plus F200, which can accommodate up to 30 voice/fax channels per unit, offers integral switching capabilities and advanced traffic management features. It includes analog and digital interfaces to PBXs (private branch exchanges) and the publicly switched telephone network.
With the help of a major marketing partner, AVICI SYSTEMS, INC. will bring the first commercially deployed terabit switch/router to facilities-based carriers and ISPs in Japan. The Billerica, Massachusetts company selected NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. to sell and support its TSR, short for Terabit Switch/Router. This next- generation backbone solution scales from 2.5 gigabits to 6 terabits. That capability, Avici says, assures throughput for native TCP/IP-based Internet traffic at 10,000 times the speed of existing products at roughly 10 percent of the cost. Moreover, it supports frame relay, ATM and SONET (synchronous optical network) traffic. In another plus, TSR's self-healing switch fabric is inherently redundant, eliminating the need for backup ports. Nissho Electronics has priced Avici's TSR from $354,000 to $885,000.
Big data center networking systems supplier MC-DATA CORP. added NETMARKS, INC. as a marketer and systems integrator of its Fibre Channel networking products. The Broomfield, Colorado manufacturer's flagship product is the 32-port, high- availability McDATA ED-5000 Fibre Channel Director, which is used in enterprise SAN applications. Netmarks, which handles Fibre Channel products from other U.S. vendors for small to midsize SAN situations, also will sell the 16-port departmental ES- 2500 Fibre Channel Switch and Enterprise Fabric Connectivity Management products. The company has priced the McDATA line from $83,500 to $357,400.
Broadening the distribution channels for its switches and other network equipment, CABLETRON SYSTEMS INC.'s subsidiary signed a reseller agreement with SOFTBANK CORP. Until now, the Rochester, New Hampshire company has relied on systems integrators in major metropolitan areas to handle its products, in large part because most of its actual and potential customer base is located in big cities. With the addi-tion of Softbank, Cabletron hopes to reach a wider group of systems integrators and end users. The firm is looking for first-year sales of $8.9 million through the marketing network of the software distributor/Internet investor.
In another move to capitalize on the expected popularity of NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC.'s Internet-capable iMode cellular phones, the marketing unit of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has tied up with NTT-ME CORP. on the computer hardware and software for the mobile professional-targeted service. The recently formed NIPPON TELEGRAPH AND TELEPHONE CORP. subsidiary is marketing 20-, 50- and 200-user versions of Compaq's new Prosignia server line as well as its Bizport groupware, which can support up to 50 iMode clients or as many as 200 users (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 32).
The latest wireless LAN product from LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES INC. that NCR JAPAN, LTD. is marketing is a card that allows a local area network to be constructed between buildings that are up to 1.25 miles apart or within a spread-out complex. The reach of the WaveLAN IEEE Turbo Exterior System, which costs $4,400 to connect two buildings, can be extended to 4 miles if the normally top transmission speed of 8 Mbps is slowed. NCR Japan has forecast sales of 1,000 for this WaveLAN product.
The subsidiary of XIRCOM, INC., which bills itself as the leading provider of connectivity solutions for mobile computing professionals, has introduced two more products. The PortStation provides instant network, communications and peripheral device attachment via a single USB connection to Windows-based computers. The USB Hub Starter Kit costs $155. To it, users can add separately priced modules that give them access to a variety of networking and communications technologies. The Thousand Oaks, California company's other new product is the RealPort ISDN Connection Kit, a $210 integrated PC Card with a built-in connector system that allows notebook users to connect to an ISDN without installing a proprietary cable.
Expanding its line of two-way mobile radios for business or commercial use, MOTOROLA INC.'s subsidiary introduced the Japan-only Visar II. The simplified, handheld unit can be used for communications within a building, for example. Depending on its wattage, the Visar II costs either $1,200 or $1,800.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Menswear designer SANDY DALAL LTD. gave SUMITOMO CORP. rights to import and market its line for three years. The New York City fashion house designs jackets, pants and shirts mainly for men in the 20 to 49 age bracket. In the contract's final year, the trader plans to begin licensed production in Japan. By then, Sumitomo expects Sandy Dalal products to be ringing up sales of $8.8 million, double the first year's total.
Japan will be the fourth foreign market in which HOSIERY CORP. INTERNATIONAL sets up shop. The mail-order marketer of panty hose and other types of stockings has a January 2000 start date. Its recently established branch office plans to outsource almost all distribution-related functions to hold down expenses. HCI also will use a local manufacturer of hosiery as a supplier since sizes in Japan differ from those in the United States, where the company has its own factory, and in England, Germany and France, HCI's other international operations. However, the company will utilize the same sales formula of sending program participants four pairs of stockings every six weeks. They will have a choice of 10 colors in five sizes at prices ranging from $3.55 a pair to $4.40, which is less than department stores and other retailers in Japan charge for quality products.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
Virtually all American Tier 1 automotive parts manufacturers lately have expressed renewed interest in the Japanese market. The Visteon Automotive Systems unit of FORD MOTOR CO., the world's second-largest parts supplier, has gone a big step further. For an undisclosed price, it acquired NALDEC CORP., a maker of advanced electronic body and safety vehicle modules, from MAZDA MOTOR CORP. The Hiroshima-head-quartered company was formed in 1987 as an equally owned venture between now Ford-controlled Mazda and NEC CORP. The latter sold its share to its partner at the end of June in preparation for a divestiture. Naldec, which employs approximately 220 people, including about 70 engineers, had sales of $88.5 million in the year through March 1999. During that period, it produced some 4 million air bag, antilock brake, keyless entry, speed control and other electrical modules, primarily for Mazda. The deal has obvious benefits for Mazda and Visteon alike. For the Japanese automotive maker, the sale is part of its financial comeback strategy of shedding nonessential businesses to focus on its core car and truck operations. It follows by roughly a month the sale of Mazda's financing unit to FORD MOTOR CREDIT CO. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 20). For Visteon, the acquisition of Naldec not only gives it an onshore production capability and the means to expand business with other Japanese vehicle makers but also a source of manufacturing expertise that potentially can be applied to other operations around the world.
The 13-year-old manufacturing joint venture between DELPHI AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS CORP.'s Harrison Thermal Division and CALSONIC CORP. has announced plans to launch production for export of a next-generation air-conditioning compressor that the two developed. CALSONIC HARRISON CORP., in which the biggest automotive parts supplier in the world has a 49 percent stake, will add to the output of its Utsunomiya, Tochigi prefecture factory in the fourth quarter a compact variable compressor that is said to generate less noise and vibration than conventional vehicle AC compressors. The plant now makes current-generation variable-displacement compressors for the Japanese market. At capacity operation, Calsonic Harrison will be able to turn out 450,000 CVC units a year, initially for BMW AG's European plants. The expansion will create about 170 jobs.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.
One of the biggest makers of self-adhesive labels and other office paper products is moving into Japan with plans to quickly capture a significant share of this market. AVERY DENNISON CORP. is teaming with HITACHI MAXELL, LTD. to sell some 200 Avery-brand and cobranded self-adhesive labels, customized card products, related software and other office products to PC users with desktop printers. The Pasadena, California company will own 51 percent of AVERY DENNISON-MAXELL CO. Using Hitachi Maxell's marketing channels, the joint venture expects to have its products in outlets across Japan by January 2000. The Tokyo-headquartered business, to be staffed by managers and employees from both parents, is going after 30 percent-plus of the $100 million market for labels and customized card products, with annual sales projected at $26.6 million in three years. In time, Avery Dennison-Maxell plans to have a domestic manufacturing capability.
Beginning January 1, 2000, CALLAWAY GOLF CO. will directly market its golf clubs and golf balls in Japan. SUMITOMO RUBBER INDUSTRIES, LTD. has had this job for the past 11 years. For reasons that were not given, the Carlsbad, California maker of the popular Big Bertha line of clubs and its distributor decided to end their relationship when the current marketing contract expires at the end of this year. Sales of Callaway products totaled a reported $88.5 million in 1998. The firm already has a wholly owned Japanese subsidiary.
Combining technology licensed from TEXACO INC. for the production of fuel from sewage sludge with its own proprietary know-how, TERRABOND CO., LTD. codeveloped with MN ENGINEERING CO., LTD. a production process for what it calls combustible refuse slurry. In simplified terms, the system for making this environmentally beneficial fuel involves the separation of combustible organic household, industrial and commercial waste into low heat-generation products, such as garbage and paper, and those like waste plastics that have high heat-generation capabilities. These products then are carbonized, turned into an oil substance and/or pulverized into a slurry. Several mixings later, the slurry is transformed into a fuel. One of the key attractions of the CRS system is its ability to separate solids and liquids from the same waste. Tokyo-based Terrabond, an environmental plant developer, now is seeking companies to utilize its fuel production system. Texaco signed the licensing agreement with Terrabond in January 1999. The arrangement explicitly excludes the White Plains, New York-headquartered oil major's gasification technology.
Two AMERICAN FIRETECT, INC. fire-retardant chemicals already are on the market in Japan through distributor CUBIC CORP.: the Safe-T-Guard fire retardant for on-bolt fabric, the Feasterville, Pennsylvania company's key product, and a Safe-T-Guard fire retardant for the treatment of wood products. Cubic, a specialty chemical trader located in Tokyo, now is in the process of introducing two other American Firetect products. One is a paint that, used on boats, enables barnacles, seaweed and other material sticking to the vessel's surface to be washed off. The paint also can be applied to the inside of pipes in sewage treatment plants, thereby allowing built-up sludge to be removed through washing. The other new product controls odors in, for example, water-treatment facilities.
YLA CELLULAR PRODUCTS CO., a Livermore, California manufacturer of specialty honeycomb materials sold under the ULTRACOR brand, named TOKYO TECHNOLOGIES, INC. to sell two of its cutting-edge products to Japanese aerospace companies. ULTRACOR is a very low-density honeycomb core material designed for use in highly weight-sensitive structures, including satellite antenna reflectors and solar arrays. Unlike the hexagonal or square cell shapes of other makers' honeycomb material, ULTRACOR incorporates a web construction. That difference means that a honeycomb can be produced from any structural fiber and that the fiber can be oriented in any desired direction or in more than one direction. The ULTRACOR products available in Japan are a carbon-carbon honeycomb with a 3/8-inch cell size and a one-fourth-inch quartz-fiber honeycomb. Tokyo Technologies' marketing rights extend to other Asian countries.
Medical institutions in Japan soon will have help in preventing and controlling infectious diseases in their facilities. The initiative is spearheaded by COLBY GROUP INTERNATIONAL, INC. of Edmonds, Washington, which specializes in transpacific biomedical business and technical relations. It has enlisted the cooperation of the ASSOCIATION FOR PROFESSIONALS IN INFECTION CONTROL AND EPIDEMIOLOGY, INC., a nonprofit, voluntary, international organization based in Washington, D.C., to establish an APIC-like group of infection-control professionals in Japan. This organization will draft voluntary standards for preventing and controlling infectious diseases in medical settings. Colby Group then plans to tie up with Japanese pharmaceutical companies in an organization that will help hospitals and other medical institutions meet the new standards.
MEDTAP INTERNATIONAL, INC., a health-services research firm based in Bethesda, Maryland, has teamed with Tokyo's CRECON RESEARCH & CONSULTING, INC. to offer what they call pharmacoeconomics consulting and research services to drug companies around the world. MEDTAP will contribute to the alliance its technical expertise as well as business support in the United States and Europe. Crecon, in turn, will provide its technical and market research knowledge of the Japanese market. With this input, MEDTAP will be better positioned to serve its multinational clients on a global basis. At the same time, Crecon should be able to respond more effectively to the growing demand in Japan for socioeconomic evaluations of health-care issues.
In a deal that should help fuel the growth of the investment trust or mutual fund industry in Japan, STANDARD & POOR'S CORP. acquired IFIS INC., one of the country's few independent sources of information and analysis on domestic mutual funds. The three- year-old Tokyo company provides data on 1,800 Japanese open-ended funds and 3,200 closed ones. IFIS market trackers have joined the analytical team that S&P has had in Tokyo since 1986. The acquisition, the terms of which were not disclosed, also bolsters S&P's claim of being the world's leading provider of independent mutual fund information and analysis.
Another American advertising agency is altering its relationship with its Japanese partner. In this instance, YOUNG & RUBICAM INC., which ranks fifth in the world in terms of billings, and DENTSU INC., Japan's top ad agency, are restructuring the ownership of three in-country joint ventures and 12 elsewhere in Asia in the hope of generating more business. In Japan, Y&R and Dentsu will switch their shareholdings, with the Manhattan firm becoming the minority (49 percent) partner in the trio. In the dozen non-Japanese companies, now equally owned, Y&R will increase its stake to two-thirds. Y&R and Dentsu have had a Manhattan tie-up since 1981.
An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.