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That Didn’t Take Long: DoCoMo On The Prowl For Next iMode Paramour in UK

Posted on Friday 28 May 2004

The ink is barely dry on its breakup agreement with 3 (UK) but NTT DoCoMo is already looking for a new dance partner. According to both the Financial Times and Agence France Presse DoCoMo is in discussions with three other carriers – Orange, T-Mobile and mmO2 – as potential partners in a British version of iMode. Orange and T-Mobile both have their own versions of a handset-based information service so they would seem unlikely partners. mmO2, on the other hand, does not offer a packaged service.

DoCoMo and mmO2 have been mentioned together before as possible partners in iMode. In February, when KPN dropped its bid for mmO2, DoCoMo’s CEO responded to a question about mmO2 by saying, “We are prepared to negotiate with any operator which will do i-mode.” But mmO2 now appears to be playing hard to get. Dow Jones quoted a company spokesman as saying, “At the moment it’s not for us.”

Beyond the question of who the partner will be, I wonder what the structure of the inevitable deal will be. As I wrote in March DoCoMo’s missionary strategy of using equity stakes to get iMode launched has failed; not only has the service not been launched in the US and UK but the value of DoCoMo’s ¥1900B investments have been written down to mere fractions of the initial cash. My assessment hasn’t changed.

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