There is more than a grain of truth in the old saw that the Japanese are masters of imitation, and the characteristic extends beyond borrowing product ideas from abroad, improving them out of all recognition and then selling them back to their initiators. Few races are as quick as the Japanese to leap aboard an industry trend, and Nippon Digital Equipment Corp is shaping up to benefit handsomely from this characteristic. The message has now got through to Japan that DEC’s VAX family has been walking all over IBM in the business market, and Japanese users are rushing to get a piece of the action into their shops. And the benefits to DEC could be very substantial indeed, because 80% of its Japanese business is with scientific and technical users, only 20% with business users. Nippon DEC is laying firm plans to slew the mix back towards the commercial sector and a 50-50 split, and last month, reports our Tokyo correspondent, Nippon DEC held a Partnership Seminar as its first move into promoting itself as a business computer company. Two programmes are being promoted: a co-operative marketing effort that will initially involve only registration of software as Nippon DEC-approved, but likely later leading to joint marketing efforts; and an applications development assistance scheme. And word out of Nippon DEC is that he company has been overwhelmed with enquiries about both programmes. The company says it is actively seeking banking and financial applications – including foreign ones and embracing things like share dealing dealing; and applications for general business administration and electronic services.