PC vendor Gateway Inc. has closed 27, or about 8 percent, of its Gateway Country stores in the US in an effort to cut costs. ... Internet Initiative Japan Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Oracle Corp. Japan announced plans to develop a robust multimedia content delivery platform in Japan. Trials of the new service, CDN Japan, will begin this month and are expected to last about a year before a commercial launch. ... There were 1,501 mass layoffs (50 or more employees) in the US in February, according to data released last week by the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total number of individual layoffs for the month was 172,908. ... IBM last week strongly denied European media reports that it plans to absorb the corporate identity and staff of Lotus Development Corp., saying that it's still studying what to do with its groupware subsidiary.