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DOCOMO stakes a mobile video claim with PacketVideo investment

Japanese carrier NTT DOCOMO’s long-term evolution plans are all about taking mobile to the next level, as demonstrated by its recent acquisition of a 35 percent stake in mobile video pioneer PacketVideo, a subsidiary of NextWave Wireless. The move signifies a new direction for the carrier giant, according to NextWave CEO James C. Brailean. "In the past, you haven't seen DOCOMO active in investment. This is a meaningful investment, and it's in an American company," he said.

How important is mobile video to DOCOMO's vision of its future? "Through [our plans], we want to be known as ‘Movie DOCOMO,’” company President Ryuji Yamada told the Financial Times last week. In Japan, where almost everyone owns a mobile phone, DOCOMO will launch its 4G mobile network in 2010. The carrier has already tested the mobile video waters with encouraging results.

In May, DOCOMO launched beeTV, which offers custom-made videos for the small screen of a mobile phone, and signed up 400,000 customers within two months. “Those figures would be inconceivable in the normal broadcast market,” Yamada told the Financial Times.

Juniper Research projects that mobile multimedia services — streaming video, mobile TV, music and photo applications — will represent a $64 billion market opportunity by 2012. As standard voice services revenue declines, handsets such as the iPhone, Palm Pre and HTC G are becoming powerful drivers of new data revenue streams for operators.

Naturally, the partners see these smart handsets as the entry point for new mobile and converged services; for example, using the mobile phone to discover new content to play on different devices.

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