Flying in the face of the current trend for making cellphones more and more complex, NTT DoCoMo are apparently planning to remove high-end functionality from its handset OS that will free manufacturers to develop simpler designs more suited to international sales. The functionality, which is believed to include i-mode, internet connection services and the FeliCa mobile payment system, has traditionally kept the Japanese cellphone industry at the forefront of development, but recent saturation of the market has seen several manufacturers (most recently Mitsubishi) withdraw to concentrate on overseas sales.
NTT DoCoMo also revealed that it expects to introduce Google’s Android as its new OS by 2010. The two companies previously agreed to load apps such as Google Maps for Mobile and Gmail onto the i-mode platform, with Android-based handsets a possibility still under discussion.
With NTT DoCoMo’s scheme, manufacturers will be able to create low-function, low-price handsets intended for export that use the same software as those high-function cellphones made for the domestic market. It takes into account the growing demand for cellular technology in countries such as China and Thailand, which currently Japanese developers would need to create whole new models for.
Analysts believe the move will be copied by rivals KDDI Corp. and Softbank Mobile Corp.