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DoCoMo's Gamble
Posted: 16-Jun-2001 [Source: AsiaWeek]

[NTT DoCoMo's success provides a launching pad for 3G as described in this interesting article.]

by Jeremy Hansen, Hong Kong -- "Keiji Tachikawa has a killer app, and at last he's getting a chance to show it off. Standing on a stage before Japanese and foreign telecoms executives and other guests on the 26th floor of Tokyo's new Sanno Park Tower office building, the president of NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile-phone operator, takes a cellphone from an assistant. He holds the phone out in front of his face like a mirror. "Can you see me right now?" he asks. A projection screen gives guests a Tachikawa-eye view of proceedings. A video feed of a woman's face, the other person in the conversation, appears on the handset's tiny monitor. Cheers and murmurs of amazement fill the room.

"The event is the May 30 official launch of a Tokyo trial of NTT DoCoMo's much-hyped "3G" mobile-phone technology, of which video is a keenly anticipated feature. It's an important moment for Tachikawa, 62, and not just because DoCoMo is the first company in the world to introduce such an advanced service. (South Korea's SK Telecom in October unveiled a digital wireless network with near-3G speed.) The occasion also offers an early glimpse of a strategy that could ruin the company or make it a global leader. "DoCoMo is the only company betting on 3G, and it's a risky play," says Tim Clark, Tokyo strategy director for Web consultancy Ion Global. "But it could pay off big down the road."

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