Japan's Computer and Communications Industry: The Evolution of Industrial Giants and Global Competitiveness

By Martin Fransman | Go to book overview

(PCI) bus architecture promoted by Intel--PC-98 users will be able to connect their machines to peripherals produced by other companies and will also be able to network with DOS/V compatibles. By broadening its standards in this way, NEC has eroded the 'proprietaryness' of its PC-98 series, contributing to an increase in standardization and openness in the Japanese PC market as a whole. However, NEC hopes that the fact that DOS/V users still will not be able to run Japanese-language applications software developed for the PC-98 series--and NEC still has the bulk of Japanese-language PC applications--will allow it to retain its market share.80

Equally importantly, in July 1994 NEC announced that it would end its proprietary software strategy and pursue a new 'multi-platform software strategy' that will allow it to develop packaged software not only for its own computers but also for others such as IBM and UNIX compatibles. According to Toru Shiozaki, senior manager of NEC's Application Software Division, 'Since the global software market has long been dominated by US firms such as Microsoft . . . Japanese firms have only been paying money to them. I think this is a good opportunity to use multi-platform software titles as a tool to break into overseas software markets.' In the case of workstations, for example, NEC's multi-platform strategy will allow more than 60 per cent of the packaged software originally developed for NEC's proprietary EWS-4800 workstations to run on either Sun's or Hewlett-Packard's workstation or on Windows-installed personal computers. While in 1993 NEC earned only ¥15 billion from packaged software, it plans to increase this figure to ¥50 by March 1998.81 Of course, in overseas markets NEC faces the same competence problems of distribution that Fujitsu does.

It is clear from these details that the New World has arrived in the Japanese computer industry, leaving the Old World, modelled in the image of IBM's architecture of the mind, irreversibly behind.


Conclusions

The Evolution of the Japanese Computer Industry in Comparative Perspective

Fig. 4.7 presents a summary of the evolution of the Japanese computer industry in comparative perspective. More specifically, it shows some of the major landmarks occurring in the US computer industry, and the corresponding events (sometimes in direct response to happenings in the USA) in the Japanese computer industry. This evolution has been analysed in detail in the body of the present chapter.

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