Google ties up with Japan's DoCoMo to grow abroad

TOKYO Thu Jan 24, 2008 10:53am GMT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Google Inc's (GOOG.O) search engine will feature on NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T) handsets, giving it access to 48 million new mobile Internet users in Japan in its push for overseas growth.

DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, said on Thursday the tie-up on Internet searches, e-mail and other services, will help it retain users in a competitive market and raise advertisement revenue while cutting development costs.

The two firms, which also plan to launch a Linux-based mobile handset in Japan, aim to reap joint advertising revenues of 10 billion yen "as soon as possible," they said, without disclosing how they plan to split revenues.

"Japan's mobile Internet services lead the world," DoCoMo senior Vice President Takeshi Natsuno said at a news conference. "It's no wonder that big U.S. companies are paying attention to Japan."

Google has already partnered with Japan's No. 2 mobile phone company KDDI Corp (9433.T). DoCoMo and KDDI together control over 80 percent of Japan's mobile market.

Cheaper data-transmission charges are prompting mobile operators to team up with search engines, rather than developing content on their own.

Softbank Corp (9984.T), the No. 3 mobile phone company, works with Yahoo Japan Corp (4689.T), in which Softbank holds a 40 percent stake.

Under Thursday's agreement, DoCoMo handsets will provide Google search results for mobile and PC Websites via the top-page of its Internet portal site.

The two firms will discuss ways to make it easier for DoCoMo users to access Gmail, the video-sharing site YouTube, and Picasa Web albums, they said.

Shares of DoCoMo closed up 3.2 percent at 161,000 yen, compared with a 2.1 percent rise in the benchmark Nikkei .N225.

(Additional reporting, writing by Mayumi Negishi)

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