DoCoMo to "cut cord" with Japanese handset vendors

DoCoMo, Japan's top mobile carrier, has been struggling.  They are losing out in new subscriber add against KDDI and Softbank and there is no sign of reversing the trend, given that DoCoMo is currently the only major carrier who does not provide iPhone.

People have been speculating the reasons why DoCoMo does not sell iPhone, and one major factor is thought to be their long standing relationships with Japanese handset vendors.  If DoCoMo wants to sell iPhone, Apple would push a tough quota, thus there will be no room for already weak Japanese vendors.  They say that will mean the sure death to vendors like Fujitsu and Sharp.

But alas, even without iPhone, DoCoMo decided to hand the death sentence to them, practically speaking.  On May 15, they announced the strategy to push "Two-Top" smartphones, Samsung Galaxy S4 and Sony XperiaA, for their summer handset lineup.  Tsutsumu Ishikawa reports on Nikkei that DoCoMo will pay extra handset subsidy for these models and strongly feature them on their advertisement.

Maybe 2 years too late, but from DoCoMo's point of view, it makes all the sense.  "Global models"'s volume means they have lower cost and better proven quality, thus bring down DoCoMo's cost for procurement, customer service and other maintenance.  It will make it easier for global Android developer community to write apps for DoCoMo.

Yesterday's Google I/O was quite interesting - for me, the most interesting one among the past same events.  They are really pushing all kinds of tools to support Android developers  so they can make money.   One of them is the "global sales" direction such as language support.  Not just handset vendors, but for app developers, going global is the key to success already.

And with Google's "big data" capability, they provide many personalization tools.  It is no longer even thinkable for carriers to match these capabilities.  Carriers have lost out in their quiet effort to compete against Google and Apple.  Now even mighty DoCoMo has to go with the flow.

And by the way, some also speculate that this whole thing means that DoCoMo is preparing to make room for iPhone.

So there you have it.  Looks like DoCoMo has made a big decision to cut their umbilical cord with Japanese handset vendors (except for Sony).  Vendors have to find a way to support themselves now - but how?