NTT DoCoMo leverages i-mode success for smartphone apps

John C. Tanner
16 Jun 2010

NTT DoCoMo sees its role in the smartphone ecosystem as an “exchange hub” for apps developers and smartphone users, and plans to leverage its experience with i-mode to make that happen.

Part of NTT DoCoMo’s strategy includes its new mobile web portal, “docomo market,” which aggregates apps and content from other app store platforms to make them more discoverable for users. The portal currently links to Android Market and will eventually support other platforms, including Windows Mobile.

NTT DoCoMo also intends to introduce one-stop direct billing for smartphones, in which charges for third-party content and apps will be included in monthly phone bills.

NTT DoCoMo implemented the same approach for its i-mode service, and it’s one of several i-mode elements guiding its smartphone strategy, said Tetsuya Yamashita, director of the smartphone business department at NTT DoCoMo.

“There is a wealth of know-how, including successful i-mode strategies, that can be applied to smartphone business models,” Yamashita said at a press conference on the sidelines of CommunicAsia2010.

Specifically, Yamashita said, the operator’s smartphone content strategy breaks down into three core tenets: keep it simple, content is king, and balance the interests of all players.

“We need to replicate i-mode’s ecosystem in which NTT DoCoMo, manufacturers, content providers and users coexist beneficially in a huge market,” he said.

Smartphone sales in Japan are predicted to reach three million units in the current fiscal year ending March 2011.

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