Tokyo: Japan’s NTT DoCoMo Inc plans to beef up its smartphone line-up with Samsung Electronics Co’s Galaxy S handset and an Android-based tablet phone to attract more users, its chief executive said on Wednesday.
DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest mobile phone operator with more than 56.5 million subscribers, is rapidly expanding its smartphone roster to battle rival Softbank Corp, which is surging in popularity as a distributer of Apple Inc’s iPhone and iPad.
DoCoMo now aims to offer seven smartphones later this financial year, two more than originally planned, to tap surging demand for phones with computer capabilities.
Besides the Galaxy S in October and a tablet phone by March, it also plans to launch a new BlackBerry phone by Research In Motion as one of its winter/spring models.
Chief Executive Ryuji Yamada said the tablet device would be different from the popular iPad.
“The iPad is of course leading the tablet market right now, but it is a computer and not a phone,” he told Reuters in an interview. “We’ve asked for one with a phone function, and it is being developed right now.”
The iPad essentially created the growing tablet market and a slew of such machines, from companies like Dell Inc and Toshiba Corp, are hitting the market this year.
Yamada said DoCoMo is discussing future devices with Samsung and the possibilities include a tablet device. But he declined to confirm or deny whether the tablet phone it plans to launch this business year will be manufactured by the South Korean maker.
DoCoMo made a bet in the smartphone market with Sony Ericsson’s Xperia phone in April, and Yamada said the company has sold around 300,000 units of the device so far.
“I think Xperia and Galaxy S will be the ones that stand out,” he said.
Both handsets are based on Google Inc’s Android operating system.
The Galaxy S is Samsung’s answer to the iPhone 4, the latest version of the wildly popular iPhone. Samsung, the world’s second-biggest maker of mobile phones, is launching the handset with 100 carriers including the top five US carriers.
DoCoMo has been trying to offer iPhones and iPads as well, and Yamada reiterated that the company has not given up on trying to become a distributor of the devices.