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Japan's NEC caves in to PC standard

NEC, Japan's largest PC vendor, will finally sell industry-standard, IBM-compatible PCs made by Packard Bell-NEC in Japan.

NEC, Japan's largest PC vendor, will sell industry-standard, IBM-compatible PCs made by Packard Bell-NEC for the first time in Japan, finally capitulating to market pressure. Until now, the company has sold proprietary-architecture PCs in Japan.

NEC currently holds about 40 percent of the Japanese PC market, the second largest in the world. To date, the company has doggedly stuck to its aging "9800" architecture in Japan that while based on Intel processors, is incompatible with Intel-based PCs sold worldwide.

In some respects, NEC's 9800 architecture strategy is similar to IBM's PS/2 strategy in the 1980s. The PS/2 line of PCs IBM began selling in the mid-80s used proprietary IBM technology and, as a result, did not fare well in the marketplace. IBM eventually abandoned this strategy.

Up until now, NEC in Japan has begrudgingly sold standard Intel-architecture systems from companies such as Compaq only on customer request, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.

This decision by NEC has come despite the fact that just six months ago the company said it would maintain a 9800-only marketing policy, according to the report.

NEC decided to sell world-standard Intel-based clones "due to increasing competition and growing demand for IBM-standard machines from customers setting up networks," the newspaper report said.

The PCs will be built by Packard Bell-NEC in the United States.