New DoCoMo Chief Reveals Roadmap
By Eric Lin, Wed Jun 23 23:30:00 GMT 2004

New NTT DoCoMo President, Masao Nakamura, has just taken his new position, but he is already busy announcing his new plans for the Japanese mobile giant.

Nakamura is staying away from announcements regarding pricing or other policies that would immediately effect DoCoMo subscribers. Instead he charts a course for the company, making an effort to avoid previous pitfalls while still creating opportunities for growth.

Outside of Japan, Nakamura is seeking growth opportunities other than the large capital investments so popular under the watch of if his predecessor, which created a large financial burden on DoCoMo with little to no reward. Instead, Nakamura proposes "we will expand our business to overseas markets by mainly seeking technological tie-ups with local entities." Nakamura is looking for a partnership in China, as the siren's call of such a large population on the verge of becoming a mobile society is impossible to resist. However Nakamura's first deal is not with China but with Thai company MappointAsia, a mapping and location based services application provider. Despite the "technology tie ups" promise, DoCoMo partnered with Mappoint through a (small) investment of $1.9 million.

To make good on his promise of reversing declining revenues, Nakamura is seeking to add new data service beyond i-Mode and picture mail. He expects recently announced applications such as phones with the Felica wallet smart chip and new phone systems designed for corporate environments will boost revenues. Like European and American carriers, DoCoMo also believes Push To Talk has the potential to bring in additional revenue, even in Japan's notoriously data-centric phone culture.

Nakamura also wants to quadruple the number of FOMA subscribers over the next three years to 25 million, half of all projected 50 million DoCoMo users. In addition to new services and flat-rate data prices, Nakamura hopes to develop inexpensive 3G handsets to draw more subscribers. Current FOMA offerings are expensive --about 30,000 Yen ($300) -- and packed full of advanced features. Nakamura hopes that by stripping some of the less critical features that DoCoMo could sell 3G handsets for around 10,000 Yen. DoCoMo has not decided what features would make the cut for the new stripped down handsets as of yet.

It sounds as though Nakamura has solid ideas for reviving DoCoMo's appeal with Japanese subscribers. However there's no telling whether it has already jumped the shark in the minds of the Japanese considering all the negative press DoCoMo has been getting while KDDI basks in the glow of the media spotlight.