DoCoMo to tie up with Google:

Japan’s leading mobile phone operator NTT DoCoMo, trying to fight off resurgent competitors, will tie up with United States search-engine giant Google to upgrade its services, a report said Tuesday.

DoCoMo will incorporate Google’s search and email features into its popular “i-mode” internet service as part of a broader alliance that may lead to the development of new functions and handsets, the Nikkei business daily said.

The cellphone giant decided on the deal as its subscribers are demanding ever-more sophisticated internet functions on their cellphones, said the newspaper, which did not identify its sources.

Starting as early as the spring, DoCoMo users will be able to access Google search, email, scheduling and photo features through the i-mode service, the Nikkei said.

Company officials did not have immediate comment.

DoCoMo, while remaining a dominant force in the domestic mobile market, has lost subscribers to rivals in the past year after a rule change allowed users to switch carriers without changing their phone numbers.

Meanwhile, Google has remained behind Yahoo! Japan in the Japanese search-engine market.

By teaming up with DoCoMo and gaining better access to mobile users, Google seeks to bolster its services and advertising operations in the cellular segment, the Nikkei said.

NTT DoCoMo shares rose sharply on the report, gaining ¥6 000 or 3,3% to 190 000 at the end of the morning session, outpacing the 1,79% rise on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index. – AFP

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