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U.S. Workstations Are Really Working In Japan

Bits & Bytes


Last fall, Compaq, IBM, and Apple Computer introduced a U.S.-style personal-computer price war in Japan. At the time, market watchers predicted that the Americans would clean up by tapping huge Japanese demand for low-cost PCs. But so far, it's not a rout. U.S. PC companies will wind up with about 20% of the Japanese market this year, compared with about 16% last year, figures market researcher Data-quest Inc. Among the reasons for the disappointment: Spending on PCs slowed along with the Japanese economy.

On the other hand, with amazingly little fanfare, Americans are tightening their grip on the Japanese workstation market. Shipments by Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, DEC, and others made up two-thirds of all workstations sold in Japan last year--a $2 billion-plus market that's growing about 11% annually. The latest coup for a U.S. company is HP's contract to supply workstations to Hitachi Ltd. for resale under Hitachi's brand. The two have been co-developing microprocessors since 1990, but until now, Hitachi insisted on building the chip into its own hardware. Now, with customers clamoring for HP software, Hitachi is opening shelf space for HP's machines. Hitachi joins Mitsubishi Electric and Oki Electric Industry in reselling HP workstations.EDITED BY BART ZIEGLER

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