TOKYO -- A week after Apple Computer put the finishing touches on a broad strategic alliance with IBM, it is quietly negotiating another major linkup, one that could blend U.S. and Japanese technological strengths.
This time the partner would be Sony Corp.
Senior executives of both companies have confirmed in recent days that discussions are under way about a new venture, but the details are closely guarded.
"I can't talk about it," John Sculley, Apple's chairman and chief executive, said yesterday, "other than that I am talking to Ohga this week."
He was referring to Norio Ohga, Sony's president and the architect of its purchase of Columbia Pictures in 1989 and, before that, of CBS Records.
The discussions are taking place just two weeks before the public introduction of long-awaited notebook versions of Apple's Macintosh computer, the first product on which the two companies have collaborated. There will be several models in the line, including one made by Sony.
The companies' goal in the current talks is to merge Sony's next generation of consumer electronics hardware with Apple's easy-to-use computer software.
If the alliance proceeds, it will combine the talents of two of the most innovative companies in computing and video entertainment, while providing the strongest evidence yet that the move to digital audio and video is leading to a range of new products that are nearly indistinguishable from low-end computers.