DoCoMo and Google jointly announced they have formed a partnership that will include providing search services, search-related advertisement and potential applications to i-mode users. The two companies will also collaborate to enhance the user-friendliness of i-mode services, by making various Google services easier to access through i-mode handsets. The pre-loading of Google Maps application into upcoming DoCoMo i-mode handsets is one of the initial initiatives being discussed.
A summary of the agreement items follows:
1. Purpose of this partnership:
Google, one of the largest search engines in the world, is aiming to fulfill the mission of “organizing the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” i-mode, the pioneering mobile Internet service provided by DoCoMo, boasts nearly 48 million mobile Internet users. By connecting i-mode with various services provided by Google, the parties together intend to increase accessibility, user-friendliness and further develop the usefulness of mobile Internet services in the Japanese market.
2. Outline of this partnership:
(1) Extension of search services on i-mode
In addition to the existing i-mode menu site search service, through the partnership with Google, i-mode users will be served Google search results for mobile and PC web sites via the i-mode portal search-box. Launch of the expanded search services is scheduled in spring 2008. The new search-box will be placed on the top-page of the i-mode portal, increasing the immediate accessibility and convenience of searches on i-mode.
(2) Search-related advertisements
Simultaneously with the launch of the new search services in spring 2008, key-word based advertisements using Google’s ad platform AdWords will also be provided on the search-result pages in conjunction with the search results.
(3) More Google services for i-mode handsets
As a first initiative beyond searches, Google Maps for Mobile is under discussion to become a standard pre-installed application on upcoming i-mode handsets to be launched in the near future. The parties are also planning to collaborate around other services and search-related functions. The parties intend to make it easier for i-mode users to use Google services such as Gmail, YouTube and Picasa by giving users more seamless and immediate access over the mobile phone. Furthermore, in all upcoming DoCoMo full-browser capable handsets, Google will be set to appear as the default start-page on the full-browser.
(4) Other possible mobile marketing services
Google, in conjunction with DoCoMo and its subsidiaries, will also further study the possibility of new mobile marketing services directed towards i-mode users.
(5) Possible deployment of Android platform
DoCoMo and Google will also continue to study the possibility of bringing Android based handsets to the Japanese market. Android, a revolutionary platform for mobile phones, was announced by the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) last fall, in which Google was the key initiator of the Android project.
It would seem that KDDI’s move, in July 2006, to incorporate Google has proven to be at least ‘somewhat’ more powerful in the long run than DoCoMo’s decision (the same month) to run with 9 different search partners. The mention of Google Maps in the this announcement is ‘confusing’ as DoCoMo formed an alliance with Zenrin in June 2007.