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DoCoMo gets Google, ups edge in iPhone rights race

Posted: 28 Dec 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iPhone rights? Google services? DoCoMo network?

While Japan's cellphone service providers are bidding for rights to offer Apple's iPhone, NTT DoCoMo has obtained a leg up on its competitors by scoring new services from Apple's important partner, Google Inc.

With negotiations are underway between Apple and service providers DoCoMo and Softbank, the Nikkei news service reported from Tokyo this week that Google will provide a cluster of its services for DoCoMo. Google, whose chairman Eric Schmidt is an Apple director, recently began providing important features for the iPhone in the United States.

Google was reported to be offering features including search, e-mail, calendar and photo-sharing options over DoCoMo's i-Mode network.

Apple is faced with some unique challenges for its iPhone in Japan, because none of the country's mobile phone service providers use the GSM networks utilized by iPhone providers in the United States and Europe. DoCoMo, the largest Japanese cellphone provider, and Softbank, the third largest, use the W-CDMA infrastructure standard, which can deliver faster and more robust services than EDGE-based GSM services. Apple's current iPhone carrier partnersAT&T in the United States, T-Mobile in Germany, Telefonica in the United Kingdom and Orange in Franceoffer GSM connectivity.

According to media reports, KDDI, the second-largest Japanese service provider, is not in the running to provide the iPhone in Japan. KDDI uses the much-faster and more-robust CDMA 2000 infrastructure, making it difficult to adopt to the iPhone's wireless specifications. In recent days KDDI and its partners announced that their Wireless Broadband Planning K.K. has received two 2.5GHz licenses for deployment of WiMAX technology in Japan. They plan to begin offering the service in 2009.

Apple, whose iPods and Macintosh computers have sold well in Japan, has indicated it will introduce the iPhone in the country in 2008.

- W. David Gardner

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