Monday, July 30, 2007

Google befriends with KDDI, plans global expansion from within Japan?

First Google powered KDDI au’s mobile search platform in July 2006, fetching mobile screen-optimized search results from KDDI’s own EZWeb service and conventional Internet. Now, it will offer the rebranded version of Gmail under the "au one mail" name. So, instead of @gmail.com the email address will look like @auone.jp. KDDI au users will get the service for free and be able to access it from both PCs and cell phones around from late September. Like Gmail, the service features familiar simple user interface and the mail box size is set to be 2GB.

Both KDDI au and Google are to benefit from this co-branding partnership as the former shows its users a new and friendlier Web 2.0 face and the latter penetrating into the walled gardens of mobile world and gaining mobile expertise. KDDI au’s strategy is in a striking contrast with DoCoMo’s protective build-it-yourself approach.

Mobile lessons learned by Google in Japan can help the company better compete on global arena. This was partially confirmed by Google’s Strategic partner development manager in Japan John Lagerling who said at Wireless Japan 2007 conference that Google wanted to develop mobile services in Japan and introduce them globally. With his previous business development experience at DoCoMo, working on i-mode international expansion strategy and mobile wallet projects, he seems to be determined to make it happen for Google. According to John Lagerling, Google’s global mobile strategy is built around three blocks: 1) Personalized search; 2) Cell phone-optimized mobile services; and 3) Partnerships with various industry players. Of course, each country’s specifics are taken into account when developing mobile strategy for one particular market.

John also provided interesting statistics about Internet usage in Japan, saying that among 85 million users, 16 million access Internet only from PCs and 19 million (1/4 of all Internet users) do it only from mobile phones, while 50 million don’t mind surfing the net from both PCs and cell phones.

Sources: Yahoo News and IT Media

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