Hewlett-Packard reenters Japanese notebook PC market

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TOKYO -- Hewlett-Packard Japan Ltd. will reenter the Japanese market for notebook PCs, possibly next spring, with what the company says will be the world's thinnest and lightest notebook PC.

The new notebook PC is being produced with Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and it will go by the name OmniBook in North America. HP Japan has yet to decide on a name or the exact launch date for the product in the Japanese market however, according to an HP Japan spokesman.

The new product will hit North America and Europe in the first quarter of 1998, before launching in Japan.

Earlier this month, the two companies announced a "concept model" of the new notebook PC that weighed 3.1 pounds and was less than three-quarters of an inch thick.

HP's last notebook PC product for the Japanese market came in 1995. It failed to do well because of low demand for notebook PCs, as well as its incompatibility with Microsoft's Windows 95 operating system.

"The new notebook computer will be aimed at corporate users. We will then build on that foundation with our business customers when we move into the consumer market," the HP Japan spokesman says.

Japanese industry sources say HP is reentering the Japanese PC market to cash in on increased demand for notebook PCs. This year notebook PCs are expected to account for 40% of sales in the total Japanese PC market, with sales of desk top computers remaining flat.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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