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Japan PC prices head to $1,000

Consumers are following their American counterparts in opting for low-cost PCs, according to newly released market research.

    Japanese consumers are following their American counterparts in opting for low-cost PCs, according to newly released market research.

    During 1998's second quarter, almost 40 percent of consumer PC buyers purchased systems costing less than 200,000 yen, or $1,400, according to the Japanese arm of Dataquest. Another 10 percent went for systems below 150,000 yen, or $1,050.

    The findings were first reported in the online edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

    Americans began jumping on the low-cost bandwagon about the same time a year ago, and eventually as much as 40 percent of all PC purchases dropped below the so-called sub-$1,000 price point, setting off major industry repercussions.

    Interestingly, nearly 40 percent of the sub-200,000-yen systems incorporated processors made by Advanced Micro Devices, Intel's lower-cost rival. The Sunnyvale, California, chipmaker has duplicated those inroads in America's low-cost market.

    The price of corporate PCs, which Dataquest says comprise more than 70 percent of the Japanese market, held steady and even increased slightly during the April-to-June timeframe. This indicates that businesses are not following cost-conscious consumers, Dataquest said.

    Japanese PC shipments during the second quarter fell 11.9 percent, to 1.67 million units, compared with the same period a year ago. The Asian country is in the midst of a serious economic slump, but PC buying has rocketed since the July 25 debut of Microsoft's Windows 98, suggesting that consumers were waiting for the operating system upgrade, as they generally did in the United States.

    Nonetheless, the yearly total of PC shipments is likely to be flat or nominally higher in 1998, Dataquest now says. The firm previously expected a 7.4 percent increase.