Japan's Top Mobile Carrier to Sell Food, Goods

NTT Docomo, Japan’s top mobile phone carrier, has decided to begin selling food, games and health appliances online, according to a Mainichi Shimbun interview with its president Kaoru Kato.

Docomo already sells movies and cartoons via its mobile phones. Now it has plans to launch a separate website that will sell a far wider variety of tangible goods.

“Aiming to become a company providing all sorts of services, we would like to offer (customers) the opportunity of buying various goods through their handy handsets,” said Kato.

Docomo’s move isn’t quite as random as it may sound at first. It has already been in the food business through Radish Boya Co, a subsidiary that has been providing home delivery of fresh foods. And it has already been involved in the health appliance business indirectly through its capital alliance with Omron Healthcare Co. So opening a site to sell the kinds of products these partners sell is more of an extension rather than blind expansion into unrelated fields.

But Docomo’s ambitions in the world of online retailing are bigger. It will also launch a site to sell games produced by other firms. Docomo plans to scrutinize the games to avoid the kinds of problems revealed in recent scandals in which games virtually require users to purchase an ever-expanding assortment of virtual objects in order to complete game play, Kato pointed out.

Kato revealed that Docomo has no plans to introduce the Apple iPhone.