DoCoMo expands offerings for handsets

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

NTT DoCoMo Inc. said Wednesday it will expand smartphone services, including offering unlimited access to “anime” and music as well as a text translation service.

The No. 1 carrier appears to be striving to reinforce its competitive edge and seeking new sources of revenue, as competition with rival carriers has intensified due to the rapid growth of smartphones.

DoCoMo also said it has no plans to introduce Apple Inc.’s popular iPhone.

“It’s unlikely that DoCoMo will provide the iPhone at this point,” President Ryuji Yamada told reporters Wednesday, saying the company’s main focus is Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

In providing new services, DoCoMo said it will tie up with Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Co. and will jointly found a new company named DoCoMo Anime Store Inc. to distribute animated content for smartphone users.

In the era of smartphones, this service will enable “users to experience a new way of watching anime, so it will benefit them and anime markets,” Kadokawa Shoten Publishing Chairman Tsuguhiko Kadokawa said at an event where DoCoMo unveiled its 19 latest devices, mostly smartphones, and several new services.

Kadokawa Publishing boasts extensive popular anime content.

Starting in July, DoCoMo users will have access to unlimited anime for ¥420 a month. The service will feature about 500 titles, including “Evangelion,” “Keion” and “Fullmetal Alchemist.”

DoCoMo, which has about 60 million subscribers, hopes to attract 1 million paid users to the anime service in the first two years, Yamada said during the event.

DoCoMo Anime Store also aims to distribute content to other carriers’ smartphones both in Japan and overseas, although no specific plan has been decided.

It will invest in creating new anime content and manage content-related businesses like selling character goods.

DoCoMo will also launch a music service in July, featuring mainly J-Pop, in which users will have unlimited access for ¥315 a month. At the beginning, it will have more than 2,000 songs, DoCoMo said.

DoCoMo will also launch a text translation service in June for text-based communications tools, such as translating emails and content of social networking services like Twitter.

When sending text, a special application will translate Japanese text into English, Korean or Chinese and vice versa when receiving text messages.

Last fiscal year, DoCoMo sold about 8.82 million smartphones and aims to sell 13 million this fiscal year, according to Yamada.