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Oracle to sell set-tops in Japan

The move seems to be related to the promotion of its Network Computer, but it gets the company into a tepid market.

Oracle (ORCL) will begin promoting Internet set-top boxes in Japan, a move that's seemingly related to promotion of its Network Computer (NC) device but also one that gets the company into a tepid market.

Set-top boxes, which haven't exactly set domestic sales records, work in much the same way as the much-touted NC. In conjunction with a standard television set, set-top Internet appliances allow users to surf the Net and send and receive email while storing information on a remote server.

Oracle Japan will begin promoting its set-top boxes in June, according to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. Earlier this month, Oracle announced a promotional campaign to publicize the NC in Japan. At the time, NCI, the Oracle subsidiary that designs the operating system and server software for the NC, explained that the high cost of home Internet access paves the way for a low-cost Internet appliance like NCs or set-top boxes.

Sony also competes in the Japanese set-top box segment, manufacturing licensed WebTV models. WebTV Networks was scheduled to start TV-based Internet access service in Japan at the end of last year.

But Japanese sales of set-top boxes by companies such as Sharp have been sluggish to date, Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

The Oracle set-top boxes will reportedly retail for around 50,000 yen, or $383.