FUJITSU OPENS $20 MIL PC REVIEW

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Fujitsu, the Japanese PC marketer preparing to enter the U.S., has opened a review on its estimated $20 million account after initially hiring a small shop in Silicon Valley.

Fujitsu is talking with CKS Partners, Cupertino, Calif.; incumbent Lai, Venuti & Lai, Santa Clara; and FCB Technology Group, San Francisco.

LAI VENUTI UNSATISFACTORY

The company in December hired Lai Venuti, but an advertising executive said Fujitsu opened the review after not being satisfied with the agency's creative.

Lai Venuti declined comment; Fujitsu didn't return calls.

Fujitsu, a huge computer and telecommunications products marketer, last year tripled its PC sales in Japan and leaped to the No. 2 PC spot by leading a price war, according to Dataquest.

"They've almost single-handedly driven the price through the floor" in Japan, said Dataquest analyst Scott Miller.

But that strategy might not work for Fujitsu in the U.S. because PC industry profit margins already have crashed.

Fujitsu has said it will focus on the consumer market, which suggests it will avoid the hotly competitive battle for high-end business notebook PCs.

A LOW-END BEACHHEAD

"They're basically going to try to go after a low-end beachhead," said the ad executive who is following Fujitsu's entrance. "There's a huge market for notebooks in the $1,500-to-$2,000" price range.

Fujitsu is the third Japanese company set to make a play in the U.S. PC market this year. Sony Corp. will introduce a PC line this fall; in January, Hitachi hired David Hancock, a former Apple Computer executive, to start a U.S. notebook PC business. Hitachi is looking for an agency; Sony is working with Winkler McManus, San Francisco.

TOSHIBA TRIES DESKTOP

Toshiba America Information Systems, the best-selling Japanese notebook PC marketer, will move into the consumer desktop PC market this year.

"If you want to be a presence in the global PC market," Mr. Miller said, "you need to be successful in the United States."

Alice Z. Cuneo contributed to this story.

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