Reuters has just reported that DoCoMo might cut its ties with Hutchinson because of 3 UK’s abandonment of i-mode in the UK, although the story quotes DoCoMo denying its making any changes to its relationship with Hutchinson. What is becoming clear, however, is that DoCoMo may be making moves to partner with mm02 Plc as an alternative to 3UK, with DoCoMo president Keichi Tachikawa admitting as much at last week’s monthly press conference.
WWJ readers will know from this week’s reporting that Tachikawa is increasingly irritated by the go-slow or no-go pace of i-mode rollout outside Japan. In answering questions about Hutchison and mm02, Tachikawa said that Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. is more interested in launching 3G in Australia than i-mode in the UK, and that was after DoCoMo ploughed in 184.6 billion yen ($1.69 billion) in Big H back in December 2000 to seed an i-mode launch.
So the possibility of some bad blood between the companies isn’t exactly out of the question.
On the other hand, Tachikawa did say that mm02 “is the only operator [in the United Kingdom] that can roll out i-mode,” and said that DoCoMo is “interested in any company that is interested in rolling out i-mode,”but stopped short of confirming that DoCoMo was interested in investing in mm02.