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Overblown Expectations For North Korea

Great caution has to be exercised when it comes to North Korea ("Open for business -- a bit," Asian Business, July 26). Just because a couple of propaganda billboards and few state-controlled flea markets pop up in this Stalinist country, it doesn't mean it's getting ready to join the rest of the world. This communist regime will do anything to get its hands on hard cash and to maintain its totalitarian rule. Hope has to be based on real facts, and not on a few desert mirages and token gestures. But who knows? Maybe Ralph Nader will be the next U.S. President, Michael Moore will win the next Tour de France, and Germany will overhaul its economy.

Pierre Gosselin

Quakenbr?ck, Germany

In "Sun: A CEO's last stand" (Information Technology, July 26), there was no mention of Sun Microsystems Inc.'s (SUNW) successful foray into the legal-and-professional-services market, a potential gold mine for them and a boon for us. Sun has more than met our extensive technology needs with state-of-the-art server technology tailored to our particular firm. With clients and offices throughout the world, it is critical for us to have servers and applications accessible 24/7 and a low cost of ownership. Sun servers replaced hundreds of Windows servers with fewer, scalable, clustered UNIX servers.

We are proud to partner with Sun as it steps into the legal field and expect a continued prosperous future.

Robert F. Ruyak, CEO

Brian Conlon, CIO

Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP


One can't help but wonder if Scott McNealy was paying attention to the mistakes Ken Olsen made while [McNealy] was decimating Digital Equipment Corp.'s business -- the parallels are striking. Both companies "owned the market," and their CEOs acted with arrogance. Yet when the indicators -- and their direct reports and customers -- called for dramatic changes to effectively compete against new, cheaper platforms built on open standards, both failed to listen and respond, driving their companies into virtual extinction. Having worked at DEC during these times, as well as at Intel Corp. (INTC), I think they failed to understand the basic premise of Andy Grove's philosophy: "Only the paranoid survive."

Barry Braunstein

Wellesley, Mass.

"Mr. Consumer electronics" (The Great Innovators, July 26) left out some fascinating details. Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha [Tokyo Telecommunications Engineering Corp.], known as "Totsuko" for short, produced its first transistor radio, Model TR-52, in April, 1955. It fell apart when handled.

The second version, Model TR-55, appeared in August, 1955. This version sported the brand name "Sony," which Totsuko co-founder Akio Morita liked because it sounded like "sunny," and was easy to say and remember. More than a dozen other models followed. Some never went into production. Others were successful enough that the name "Sony" became very well-known in Japan, while almost no one ever mentioned Totsuko. In 1958, Morita changed the company name to Sony Corp.

The newly named company placed a one-sixth-page advertisement (the smallest available) on a three-month contract (the shortest contract available) in The Importer, an English-language trade journal published in Tokyo by Ray Woodside, an American, who shortly thereafter hired me as editor. The ad got Sony its first importers in Canada and in New York. The first really successful Sony radio, Model TR-610, was introduced in November, 1958, and quickly sold 436,952 units.

In 1960, on the occasion of Sony's fifth anniversary, the company advertising department sent us a full-page English-language ad announcing the event. The ad was riddled with language mistakes. Woodside had our office manager call Sony and request permission to correct the English in the ad. The Sony advertising manager refused. I then went with our office manager to Sony, and tried to convince the ad manager that the image of both Sony and The Importer would suffer if we ran the ad without corrections. He wouldn't budge. Woodside turned the ad down. Sony put The Importer on their black list, and it was still in effect when I left the magazine years later.

I have always regretted not buying stock in Sony!

Boy? Lafayette De Mente

Paradise Valley, Ariz.

Editor's Note: The writer is author of more than 50 books on Japan, Korea, and China.

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