Innovation and control in standards architectures: The rise and fall of Japan's PC-98

For more than a decade NEC dominated the Japanese PC market with its PC-98 architecture, which was incompatible both with its major Japanese rivals and the global PC standard. However, NEC was powerless to prevent the introduction of Japanese versions of Windows 3.1 and 95 that ran on its competitors' architectures as well as on the PC-98, unifying the Japanese PC market and creating a common set of application programming interfaces for all Intel-based Japanese PCs. The introduction of Windows rendered obsolete the large DOS-based software library that had provided strong positive externalities for the NEC architecture. Absent those advantages, the market share of the PC-98 standard fell from 60% to 33% in five years, and NEC finally abandoned the PC-98 in favor of the global standard. An examination of the unusual rise and fall of the PC-98 shows how victory in a standards competition can be negated by the introduction of a new architectural layer that spans two or more previously incompatible architectures.

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Keywords:

Application programming interface, Computer architecture, Japan, Network externalities, Personal computers, Standards competition

Additional information:

Language(s):English
AuthorsWest, Joel (Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations (CRITO), University of California, USA), Dedrick, Jason (Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations (CRITO), University of California, USA)
Publisher:INFORMS - Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Keywords:Application programming interface, Computer architecture, Japan, Network externalities, Personal computers, Standards competition
Last update:2000