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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • Softbank to Market Three ‘White Box’ PCs in Japan
  • March 5, 1999 (TOKYO) — Softbank Corp. will market three types of “white box” personal computers via Japanese PC retail outlets in mid March.
    Softbank procured the PCs from Ingram Micro Inc. of the United States.

    White boxes are non-brand or shop-designed brand personal computers that are manufactured and distributed by retail outlets and wholesalers. Wholesalers can manufacture PCs at a lower cost than manufacturers by delivering the required number of goods in a short period of time to retail outlets.

    This system gives wholesalers the advantage of leveraging their facilities, such as purchasing parts cheaply and assembling them, and thus offering the products at a low price.

    According to a survey conducted by Intel KK, there are approximately 45,000 companies in the world that market white boxes.

    Ingram Micro is the largest distributor of such computer products in the United States. Softbank said it aims to sell 100,000 such PCs. Softbank plans to procure 200,000 white box PCs in fiscal 1999.

    White boxes were believed to be less accepted in Japan, because the Japanese prefer brand products. Nevertheless, Intel thinks that the market share of while boxes in Japan exceeded 10 percent during the third quarter of 1998.

    However, there are problems in spreading the popularity of white boxes in Japan. The low cost of white boxes does not include support expenses. These expenses have to be absorbed by retail outlets.

    The problem hasn’t surfaced to date because most customers who have purchased white boxes have been advanced PC users. But novice users will also be the target for sales from now on, so white box retailers must establish a support system to survive the expected price war.

    (Nikkei Personal Computing)

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