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HP Japan, NTT Multimedia Firms Announce Tie-Up

Hewlett-Packard Japan (HP Japan) and two Nippon Telegraph and Telephone group companies, NTT-ME and NTT-X, this week announced formation of a wide-ranging strategic alliance to provide Internet- and multimedia-focused corporate systems and services.

The three companies will develop a variety of package solutions related to electronic commerce, multimedia applications, and systems maintenance and support.

HP Japan will provide the hardware and software and systems integration expertise while the two NTT firms will take charge of development, supply their electronic commerce and multimedia technologies, and provide marketing and sales, customer support, and maintenance services.

NTT-ME (Multimedia Engineering) Corp., with some 18,000 employees, was created in April through the merger of three NTT telecommunications engineering units.

NTT-X (NTT-ME Information Xing Inc.) is a wholly-owned NTT-ME subsidiary with a staff of about 200.

The announced corporate solutions will utilize a network based on the Internet and digital satellites to provide a wide range of multimedia-related business solutions to both domestic and foreign corporations.

"The Internet is still a first-generation infrastructure, and services are poor," said NTT-ME President Shigeru Ikeda. "The second generation [of the Internet], however, will bring services that can alter the structure of work and daily life. Through this tie-up, I want to create a business model that takes leadership [for this evolution]."

The partners intend to develop integrated electronic currency and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems based on NTT-X's NCIS electronic currency system and HP's hardware and software.

They will also market an Internet-based inventory management and distribution solution targeted at large retailers, as well as a business regulation/taxation information Internet portal service that links small and midsize firms with law offices, financial institutions, and accounting firms.

Systems are also planned for enhancing supervision of construction sites and for managing the accident site photo storage needs of non-life insurance companies.

In addition, the partners will cooperate in providing corporate purchasers with long-term system maintenance and equipment upgrades to help them keep pace with technological change.

As yet, no target dates have been announced.

A variety of hardware rental/lease programs will be offered through both NTT-ME and NTT-X.

With the ME WAVE "total solution service from consulting to system construction and aftercare," customers will have access to the services of computer engineers at NTT-ME's 380 business centers in the Kanto (Tokyo) area and Niigata and Nagano prefectures.

HP Japan signed a similar cooperative deal with KDD Corp just last month, but according to Masaki Iizuki, head of HP Japan's enterprise business section, "Our tie-up with KDD is confined to the distribution industry. This venture with NTT-ME and NTT-X involves a more extensive offering of services to a wide range of industries."

HP sees "E-Services" -- intelligent, modular services that collaborate automatically to perform a variety of specific tasks and transactions -- as being "the next chapter of the Internet."

The company hopes that these tie-ups will help to speed the acceptance and spread of its E-Services in Japan.