FOMA On Fire
By Mike Masnick, Tue Jan 25 00:00:00 GMT 2005

After a few years of difficulties, NTT DoCoMo is finally signing up plenty of users for its 3G FOMA service. It's just in time, too, as the company is facing more challenges than ever before.

NTT DoCoMo was the envy of the entire mobile world with its i-Mode offering, so it surprised many people when its upgrade to 3G, FOMA, stumbled badly upon launch, allowing KDDI to mount a serious challenge by offering a cheaper, lower speed 2.5G offering that stole away many users. In 2004, DoCoMo clearly found its FOMA footing, however, bringing more fashionable phones, adding a flat-rate data pricing option and finally catching up to KDDI in monthly subscriber additions.

Still, DoCoMo wanted more. Late in the summer of 2004, DoCoMo made it clear that it was going mainstream with FOMA, and the mainstream seems to have responded. In just one year, DoCoMo has gone from under 2 million FOMA subscribers to 9 million -- not bad for an offering that had trouble getting off the ground.

With the mobile market in Japan getting both more saturated and more crowded every day, DoCoMo has realized that now is the time to build up its customer base on newer offerings to better fend off potential challengers -- and so far, that strategy appears to be working.