Tue, Sep 30, 2008 - Page 12 News List

DoCoMo plans to sell Android phone in Japan next year

BLOOMBERG

NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan’s largest cellphone operator, plans to sell a handset that uses Google Inc’s Android software in the first half of next year.

DoCoMo president Ryuji Yamada made the comment at a press briefing in Tokyo yesterday. He also said the company aims to offer “close to 10” so-called smart phones next year.

Google formed the Open Handset Alliance in November to develop Android with more than 30 phone makers, carriers and chipmakers including DoCoMo, chipmaker Intel Corp, and cellphone manufacturer Motorola Inc Smart phones may help DoCoMo recover shrinking market share and challenge Apple Inc’s iPhone, offered by Softbank Corp.

Android is based on the free Linux operating system and is open to any programmer who wants to develop features for wireless devices. Software developers can build custom applications to run with the program.

In the past year, Softbank added three times as many new subscribers as DoCoMo, with KDDI attracting 50 percent more users. DoCoMo added a net 903,100 subscribers in the 12 months ended Aug. 30, compared with 2.6 million for Softbank and 1.3 million for KDDI, according to numbers released by the carriers.

By offering code anyone can use, Google is seeking to break the hold phone companies have on the kinds of applications that run on its devices.

T-Mobile USA Inc became the first company to unveil a cellphone to run on Google’s Android software earlier this month. The G1 uses an open-source platform that allows anyone to develop programs for the device.

The G1, made by HTC Corp (宏達電), lets customers use Google applications to search the Web, get directions and read the news. The device also has a media player that connects to Amazon.com Inc’s music Web site.

Meanwhile, DoCoMo said it will introduce a new model of Research In Motion Ltd’s BlackBerry handset to woo business users. The BlackBerry “Bold” offers a brighter display, global positioning and will be available in the first quarter, DoCoMo said.

DoCoMo, faced with a shrinking market share, in December cut monthly subscription fees for BlackBerry services, which are not marketed directly to individual users, by 40 percent to Y3,570 (US$33.60) to fend off Softbank Corp and KDDI Corp.

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