At the end of last year, a group of procurement officials from NTT DoCoMo visited China to inspect Nokia’s mobile phone plant. The visit, ahead of the launch in February of the Finnish group’s handsets bearing the DoCoMo logo, was designed to reassure the Japanese carrier that Nokia’s facilities were up to its demanding standards. DoCoMo cancelled its initial contract and scaled back its procurement from Nokia when the launch was delayed due to the difficulty of installing i-mode, according to one official.
The big challenge facing foreign handset makers is to keep producing handsets that are not only cost-competitive but also offer outstanding features that can differentiate them from the models of their domestic rivals. DoCoMo has so far managed to sell only about 20,000 out of 200,000 3G phones it procured from Motorola. The situation is frustrating for both the foreign makers and Japanese operators alike. Continue