NTT DoCoMo, and Korea’s LG Electronics just announced a basic agreement to jointly develop a dual-mode 3G FOMA handset that works on both W-CDMA and GSM/GPRS networks. The new handset will be capable of international roaming and equipped for all basic FOMA functions, including videophone and even i-mode mobile Internet access. Commercialization is targeted for spring of 2006. Though this move may seem rather like MSN and Yahoo coming out and agreeing to create joint web pages, DoCoMo needs to hustle up more offshore business even if it means sleeping with the enemy.
LG brings a good track record with it. A report by IDC on Europe’s Mobile Phone market showed LG Electronics sold one million WCDMA units in Europe during the first quarter of 2005, giving it a market share of 25.5 percent there. This announcement makes the third foreign OEM in rapid order for DoCoMo this year, after already announcing tie-up with Nokia for handset later this year and the M-1000 from Motorola.
In another moderate international move, the company also announced a new multimedia messaging service (MMS) between i-mode users and customers of four operators in Hong Kong, Singapore and Macao starting from July 1, 2005. FOMA users will be able to exchange text, images, video and music. Mova users will be able to exchange text but not send, images and video. Outgoing messages will be converted to MMS format, and incoming messages to i-mode.
Senders must enter the country code, telephone number and @mms-j.jp. Charges will be 100 yen for a message under 30 KB and 200 yen for a message of 30 KB or more, plus packet charges based on the file size. Recipients pay the packet charge.
– Gail Nakada