An analysis of the Japanese computer industry in the year to March by the Nikkei Sangyoo newspaper shows some wild undercurrents in a superficially stable market, with Unisys Corp seen as a sleeping giant, when and if it gets its bipartite act together in Japan. The positions of the mainframers in the market were unchanged, […]
An analysis of the Japanese computer industry in the year to March by the Nikkei Sangyoo newspaper shows some wild undercurrents in a superficially stable market, with Unisys Corp seen as a sleeping giant, when and if it gets its bipartite act together in Japan. The positions of the mainframers in the market were unchanged, although IBM Japan lost 1.7 points at the expense of Fujitsu and Hitachi. In the personal computer and workstation market, NEC replaced IBM in the number one spot, mainly thanks to its top-selling 9801 family of personal computers. Fujitsu and Hitachi brought out new mainframe models to challenge IBM in its heartland of the financial community – but IBM is fighting back by teaming up with various large software houses, including an alliance with a software development company affiliated with the Hokkaidoo Takushoku Bank. Number three mainframer Hitachi is well ahead of NEC in fourth place, but in the small to medium machine market is making good progress and catching up with Hitachi. The sleeper in fifth place is Nippon Univac, which manufactures both 1100 mainframes and System 80 small business computers in Japan, and could overtake NEC once it sorts out the local merger with Burroughs Japan. NEC managed to increase its share of the personal computer market to 51.3% with the help of its PC9801 series which now has 5,000 packages developed to operate on it. Fujitsu, with its 9450 series and FMR series, competing against the NEC PC9801, came second with a 15.2% market share. With IBM at a lowly 7%, Toshiba is fast catching up. Its J3100 lap-top – T3100 outside Japan, is popular with software companies, and has been selling well in the last year, boosting the company’s share to 6.5%. Seiko Epson with a share of 6.2% has, in the last year, brought itself up to the level of other Japanese Personalike makers with its successful compact and fast Equity machines selling well in the US and Europe. Mitsubishi and Sharp, among the top five in fiscal 1986, were relegated to the others class in fiscal 1987. In Mitsubishi’s case, this was put down to the strong yen, which hit its OEM sales; Sharp suffered from its late entry into the IBM Personalike market.
The office computer market, previously a distinct division in the Japanese market known as offcon, is now losing its identity as makers call their products office processors. Other changes are occuring too, not least Fujitsu edging NEC out of first place with 23.8% of the market as opposed to NEC’s 23.6%. Although NEC’s previously popular 6500 series machine has disappeared, both companies increased their share over the last year thanks to the networking of larger models in the office range. Office computers in Japan grew out of the accounting and invoicing needs of small and medium companies and are now being used more for networking various kinds of business processing. Another change is in the distribution of office computers. While offcon were sold mainly by dealers, office processors are being sold directly by the manufacturers. Toshiba can boast 11.2% of the market while Mitsubishi has 8.3%, Uchida Yoko 8.2%, and others 24.9%. Mitsubishi has always been seen as weak at direct selling, and now its dealer links are weakening because its main dealers, Mitsubishi Office Machinery and Oobic, are improving their prospects by including themselves as dealers for Fujitsu. Talk of a looming sales tax also stimulated sales during the year and despite its non-appearance, demand has not slackened. Sales of word processsors, a specialised market because of the need to support the Kanji ideographic characters so that word processors usually incorporate a Kanji ROM, saw a high growth rate of 82%. Stiff competition for market share waged mainly in the $700 to $1,300 price range, and rankings of all manufacturers below Toshiba at the top, changed during the year, with marketing strategies being an important factor. Leader Toshiba claims a 17.9% market share with Sharp this time a close second at 16.5%. NEC comes in third with 10.5% followed by
Canon, 9.9%, Fujitsu, 9.7%, Casio, 9.6%, and others at 25.9%. Toshiba is pioneering the business market but Seiko Epson and Ricoh are also active, along with Casio, in the cheap – below $700 – market, providing image capture functions as well.