Japan's DoCoMo May Partner With Google

Japan's DoCoMo May Partner With Google

Google and Japanese mobile phone carrier NTT DoCoMo are considering a partnership to provide DoCoMo's subscribers with Google search functionality on their phones, Reuters reports. The deal would give Google access to DoCoMo's "i-Mode" mobile network, which boasts 48 million users.

The partnership could also boost DoCoMo market share. Although its 53 million subscribers make it Japan's largest mobile carrier, the company has struggled to grow amongst newer, smaller competitors like Softbank. It could also give Google a regional boost, where the company trails Yahoo subsidiary Yahoo Japan Corp. as the leading search engine.

"We are currently studying the possibility of an alliance in search services with domestic or overseas partners, but nothing has been decided yet," DoCoMo spokesman Hiroto Nakagawa told Reuters. If the deal goes through, Japanese customers might be seeing Google search and email applications on their handsets as early as Spring 2008. New handsets and functions may also be developed, the Nikkei business daily said.

While DoCoMo rival KDDI already has Google search capability, DoCoMo's recent partnership with the Open Source Alliance suggests a handset built around Google's mobile platform Android is possible. KDDI is also a member of the Alliance.

Google representative Erin Fores said as a matter of policy, Google does not comment on rumor or speculation. NTT DoCoMo did not return requests for comment.