Google Grows in Japan with DoCoMo




Today, Google and NTT DoCoMo announced a partnership to provide “search services, search-related advertisement and potential applications to i-mode™ users”.

DoCoMo claims to serve some 53 million subscribers.

Google’s partnership with DoCoMo covers some very attractive areas for the world’s leading search engine.

(1) Extension of search services on i-mode
In addition to the existing i-mode menu site search service, through the partnership with Google, i-mode users will be served Google search results for mobile and PC web sites via the i-mode portal search-box. Launch of the expanded search services is scheduled in spring 2008. The new search-box will be placed on the top-page of the i-mode portal, increasing the immediate accessibility and convenience of searches on i-mode.

(2) Search-related advertisements
Simultaneously with the launch of the new search services in spring 2008, key-word based advertisements using Google’s ad platform AdWords™ will also be provided on the search-result pages in conjunction with the search results.

(3) More Google services for i-mode handsets
As a first initiative beyond searches, Google Maps for Mobile is under discussion to become a standard pre-installed application on upcoming i-mode handsets to be launched in the near future. The parties are also planning to collaborate around other services and search-related functions. The parties intend to make it easier for i-mode users to use Google services such as Gmail™, YouTube™ and Picasa™ by giving users more seamless and immediate access over the mobile phone. Furthermore, in all upcoming DoCoMo full-browser capable handsets, Google will be set to appear as the default start-page on the full-browser.

(4) Other possible mobile marketing services
Google, in conjunction with DoCoMo and its subsidiaries, will also further study the possibility of new mobile marketing services directed towards i-mode users.

(5) Possible deployment of Android™ platform
DoCoMo and Google will also continue to study the possibility of bringing Android based handsets to the Japanese market. Android, a revolutionary platform for mobile phones, was announced by the Open Handset Alliance™ (OHA) last fall, in which Google was the key initiator of the Android project.

With Yahoo holding a strong lead in search market share in Japan, this alliance is a big win for Google.

According to a Reuters’ article covering Google and DoCoMo’s partnership “Google has already partnered with Japan’s No. 2 mobile phone company KDDI Corp (9433.T: Quote, Profile, Research). DoCoMo and KDDI together control over 80 percent of Japan’s mobile market.”

These types of strategic relationships can prove to be very valuable for Google in the long run. Mobile Internet access is big business in Asia and Google is well served to maintain their market dominance in that space.

As an advertiser on Google in Japan, I have seen an increase in searches over the last few months so Google must be doing something right. Maybe it’s time to dig through my logs and figure out what percentage of that traffic is from mobile devices :)