updated 01:30 pm EST, Thu January 24, 2008
Google, DoCoMo link
Leading Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo has confirmed a deal with Google, as initially rumored late last month. The primary purpose of the deal is to improve DoCoMo's i-mode Internet service, which is said to have some 48 million subscribers. Google will make it easier for i-mode users to reach its various websites, in particular Google Maps, which will be preloaded on various handsets as on Apple's iPhone. A Google search bar will be added to the i-mode portal this spring; eventually it will be easier to load other material as well, such as Gmail, YouTube and Picasa.
Critically, the two companies are said to be studying the "possibility" of introducing phones based on Google's open-source Android platform. DoCoMo is already a member of Google's Open Handset Alliance, which should help break the current restrictions created by software licensing fees, imposed by other carriers as well as cellphone manufacturers.