If ever there was proof how far DoCoMo has lifted up its skirt and fled the Microsoft camp for Symbian and perhaps a Linux chaser, here’s the pudding; 39 months after Keiji Tachikawa and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer stood on a platform together and promised to “agressively” promote MS’ microbrowser technology and CE OS on DoCoMo Cellies, DoCoMo has finally cut the cord and axed its Mobimagic subsidiary, the company supposed to have us grappling with Windows on our handsets as well as our PCs
Back in 1999, Mobimagic was supposed to build a data center and offer business customers access to e-mail scheduling and other intranet-based applications over the PHS system, before moving onto PDC/ i-mode and FOMA in a deal worth as much as $1.9 billion. Of course, we know how little of that actually happened, but looking back at the statements of the time, it did seem as if Microsoft had scored a coup and was going to inflict Windows on us in the mobile space as well.
“NTT DoCoMo’s vision for the next millennium revolves around providing mobile multimedia access any time, anywhere and to anyone,” said Tachikawa, at the time. “This extended alliance with Microsoft, a company whose vision is aligned with our own, represents a significant step toward making both companies’ visions a reality.”
“Microsoft’s platforms and services combined with NTT DoCoMo’s mobile networks will provide users with a wide range of scalable and robust data services to enrich their daily lives,” said Ballmer.
Tachikawa had other plans. What Tachikawa didn’t mention at the press conference was that DoCoMo was also placing another couple of bets under the table. In the same week as its agreement with Microsoft for Pocket PC, NTT DoCoMo and Symbian concluded a MOU on the joint development of mobile terminal operating system initially focusing on the EPOC OS. Then, of course, Sun dawned on i-mode in June 2001 and Microsoft’s star faded into obscurity.
The stillness of the birth of the venture can be seen in how huge Mobmagic grew. Today’s announcement means the reshuffling of a grand total of 11 employees in a liquidation that “is not expected to have any significant impact on DoCoMo’s consolidated or non-consolidated results of operations,” according to the company.
The official reason for the dissolution is due to “recent changes that have occurred within the business environment,” or whatever that is supposed to mean. Tachikawa put it in plainer language last month in his final press briefing of the year when he christened Symbian as the OS of choice for DoCoMo’s future smartphones. When asked about Windows, he told the audience they weren’t open.