Motorola [MOT] looks to have won a deal to sell 3G smart phones in Japan, courtesy of NTT DoCoMo [9437.TO]. The contract could also provide an important fillip to Motorola’s efforts to fight off competition in the smartphone sector from the likes of Samsung [00830.KS]. However, Motorola may not get all its own way in Japan: Nokia [NOK.HE] is also in talks with DoCoMo.
Motorola has reportedly secured a contract to supply smartphones to NTT DoCoMo.
Motorola has been a prime mover among US and European handset vendors in developing handsets for 3G networks. The manufacturer has also developed a number of other handsets with PDA-like capabilities, including the Windows Mobile Smartphone-based MPx200.
The DoCoMo deal, which is likely to be announced formally this week, is expected to see Illinois-based Motorola supplying business-oriented handsets for DoCoMo’s Foma service. The devices, which will be styled as Business Foma phones, were reported in the UK press to be similar in concept to the high-end PDAs Motorola sells in the US.
What this means in practice is unclear as Motorola does not currently sell any devices Stateside that might be deemed PDAs, although several are in the pipeline and the aforementioned MPx200 is already offered by AT&T Wireless.
The most likely scenario is that Motorola’s DoCoMo phones will be Linux powered: in December 2003, DoCoMo announced its intention to concentrate smartphone development on Linux and Symbian OS, and Motorola’s estrangement from Symbian makes the open source OS favorite. While the company does continue to make Symbian OS phones, this is only as part of an exclusive arrangement with Hutchison Whampoa for its 3 network.
Regardless of the devices themselves, a tie up with DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile network operator, will not harm Motorola’s efforts to keep up with rivals such as Samsung and handset market leader Nokia.
DoCoMo has targeted 10.6 million subscribers on its Foma 3G service by March 2005, despite struggling to reach three million by March this year. If achieved, however, the enlarged customer base could provide rich pickings for Motorola, which would find itself in competition with DoCoMo’s sole current smart phone supplier, Fujitsu [6702.TO]. Motorola may not be the sole challenger to Fujitsu though, as Nokia is rumored to be negotiating its own deal to supply DoCoMo with handsets.