The operator said in a statement that will invest 37 billion yen " or about US$344 million - over the next two years in handset manufacturers that support its 3G service. Its 3G service, which it calls FOMA, has about 1.7 million users in Japan.
In a statement, DoCoMo said it was making the investment "to encourage early development of ever-more sophisticated FOMA handsets in terms of native applications and functionality."
In particular, the company said the money is aimed two areas of development: application software for Linux and Symbian devices and HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access), which it claims will increase data speeds on its W-CDMA network. It said it expects to launch HSDPA in 2005.
Recipients of the investments will be Fujitsu, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Motorola Japan, NEC, Panasonic and Sharp Corporation, DoCoMo said. It provided no specifics about the amount invested in each company. DoCoMo said it will share ownership of any new handset technology that results from its investment.
"By investing in development, DoCoMo aims to motivate manufacturers to produce increasingly innovative handsets," the company said in a statement.
The announcement comes the day after it announced three new FOMA phones. The new devices feature Flash-equipped browsers, cameras with resolution of as much as two megapixels and memory card slots. The company said that the phones provide battery life that is three times longer than its previous 3G phones and weigh one-fifth less.