AP and Reuters are among several news outlets reporting that NTT DoCoMo will enlist some Google Apps, including search, e-mail and photo-sharing services on some of its handsets, marking another notch on the leading search engine's wireless belt.
Securing Japan's top mobile phone carrier as an ally in its quest to help its Internet services pervade the Web landscape is common sense; the partnership will grant Google access to DoCoMo's 48 million "i-mode" mobile phone Internet service users, letting the search giant plant a stake in Japan.
Google's move, coming before the company places a bid for 700 MHz wireless spectrum in the United States in January, also opens a new front in Google's competition with Yahoo, one of the first search engines to recognize the ad opportunities on mobile phones in Japan in 2006.
Yahoo Japan is already placing ads on mobile phones in Asia, but it's only a matter of time before Google, Microsoft and others in the space step up to claim some of this multi-billion-dollar market opportunity.
As it is now, mobile online ad opportunities are a lot greater overseas in Asia-Pac and Europe, where consumers and workers tend to embrace newfangled wireless gadgets and Internet services faster than their U.S. counterparts.
Google is hoping to attack mobile markets with a variety of products in 2008, including its Android mobile operating stack, Apps, location services and perhaps even a Google-branded phone.
Cracking into the wireless market won't be easy versus Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and carriers AT&T and Verizon, but it is vital if Google wants to grow online ad growth on mobile phones. The DoCoMo deal is another piece in the large puzzle.