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NTT DoCoMo: Android will catch up to iPhone

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Tue July 20, 2010

NTT DoCoMo chief expects Android ubiquity to win

NTT DoCoMo president Ryuji Yamada in an interview today tried to downplay the effect of the iPhone in Japan [reg. required]. He believes that Android is starting to "catch up" with Apple and that it was likely Google would eventually get the upper hand. As Android isn't tied to one company, it's likely to get larger before long, the executive thought.

"When you have more people working on it, you are more likely to have better ideas," Yamada said in speaking to the WSJ. "Some new functions that are absent in Apple's operating system will emerge from the Android side. Historically that has always been the case."

The carrier has been one of the most conservative with phones and has one both the oldest phone users on average as well as one of the smallest mixes of smartphones. It recently had modest success with the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 but has been lagging well behind SoftBank, whose iPhone exclusive has routinely given it faster growth and a younger audience. Yamada did reveal that NTT DoCoMo would have the Galaxy S by the winter, albeit only months after the phone is available in Europe and North America.

An i-mode app store is also part of the plans.

The Japanese market has traditionally been closed to outside phones as they rarely if ever get features that are specific to the country, such as 1Seg mobile TV and FeliCa wireless payments. Apple is believed to have cracked the market by providing a much more intuitive interface than usually difficult Japanese phones but still providing much more powerful Internet and app support.

by MacNN Staff



  1. aristotles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I-MODE is WAP on steroids. It sucks

    I don't understand the obsession with i-mode. It is nothing bug a dressed up WAP walled garden dressed up with some additional features. It is a poor substitute the real internet.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Flawed logic...

    "When you have more people working on it, you are more likely to have better ideas," Yamada said in speaking to the WSJ. "Some new functions that are absent in Apple's operating system will emerge from the Android side. Historically that has always been the case."


    Ever heard of "feature creep?" That'll eventually kill a product faster than NOT "improving" a product.

    "More" does not equal "better" in just about ALL cases of ANYthing. It boggles my mind that the CEOs of huge, mega-global companies still think in this mindset. "Just put MORE features in our product, and that should make it a better product than those with LESS."

    "More" is only going to fly if you can do every feature the iPhone has as good or better than the iPhone does, as well as all the other, additional features to the same standard. That's quite the undertaking. Typically, people want a few really good features that work well, not a TON of features, all of which "work well enough."

  1. legacyb4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Have you seen what DoCoMo calls a "smartphone"?

    Their offerings of a so-called Smartphone is pitiful...

  1. vasic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yamada = Seidenberg

    Much like Mr. Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon, Mr. Yamada can only sing the Android tune, since neither of the two will ever get to sell iPhone on their networks. They really have no choice but to say (if not think) that.

  1. Makosuke

    Joined: Dec 1969


    He's Right and

    I actually agree that Android will probably catch up to, and surpass, the iPhone in terms of sales. The reason is simply because Apple doesn't necessarily want the bottom 70% of the market. I think Apple will be perfectly happy to have a majority of the top, say, 30% of the phone market, where I'm skeptical anybody is going to pass the iPhone. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for anybody, so long as there's still plenty of competition pushing development and improvement.

    That said, the guy obviously has no idea how these things actually work, but then Japan has never really managed to translate its prowess at hardware design into software design. Particularly when it comes to bigger companies with entrenched, old-world mindsets.

    After all, while Microsoft may have a near-monopoly of desktop OSes, there are plenty of people who'd argue both Linux and MacOS are superior to WIndows, and they're certainly not far behind even if they're not. And h***, when it comes to servers, Linux has a majority share. That's not even getting into mobile OSes, on which Microsoft has a ten-year head start and all the money in the world, yet is stuck in the '90s when it comes to product.

    Or look at Sony: Everything and the kitchen sink on the PS3, competing with money out the wazoo and almost as many features on the 360, yet little Nintendo walks in with a lighter, lower-featured product that does better than either. Or the PSP, which never even managed to compete against the technically-less-superior DS, let alone surpass it.

  1. Foe Hammer

    Joined: Dec 1969


    When More is Less

    "When you have more people working on it, you are more likely to have better ideas ..."

    - A camel is a horse built by a committee.
    - A hippopotamus is a horse built by Microsoft.

  1. Fonejacker

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Let's wait 3 years and see.....

    I believe Android comes in 6 different versions, or there has been, as not all Android phone manufacturers use the latest version or chooses the one which lacks numerous features, and then claims it as an iPhone killer. Developers don't seem to be making much money at the moment, business aren't thinking about Android (no business apps compared to the iPhone/iPod Touch). The iPhone/iPod is very much in the mind of users/businesses. I think Apple will do what it did with the music market, they will likely have a range of iPads, taking app business away from Android, a cheaper range of iPods, and cheaper range of iPhones. The App Store will just grow, so in the end consumers/businesses will have a range of products, a huge range of apps, all from one place, high quality apps, brilliant hardware, brilliant software. Not sure if anyone can compete with Apple. Time will tell.

  1. CaptainHaddock

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Docomo is worried, and rightly so

    I'm normally a big fan of Japanese industry and inventiveness, but cell phones are one area they've really fallen behind in. It's hard to believe that the iPhone and iPod Touch came out in 2007, and three years later not a single Japanese electronics giant is an inch closer to developing a next-gen OS for smart phones and tablets.

    Android might catch up to the iPhone's *current* level of sophistication and success in several years. Where will the iPhone be then, though?

    Meanwhile, there is currently a month-long waiting list for people to buy the iPhone 4 in Japan. That's how much demand there is. Docomo's never had a phone people wanted that badly, and at this rate, they never will.

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