Japanese operator DoCoMo is revving up its presence in the in-car intelligence industry after it announced — via ZDNet Asia — that it will invest 5 billion yen (around $50 million) for a 7 percent share of car and home electronics specialist Pioneer.
The agreement sees two companies work together to develop a cloud-based intelligent transport system (ITS) that will be leveraged for future services.
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The duo previously partnered to bring DoCoMo’s information services — including its navigation system — into automobiles, but this time the alliance will create an ITS that uses data from both Pioneer’s navigation system and smartphones on the DoCoMo network. The information collected will be used for a series of upcoming services, targeted at both business and consumer audiences.
Additionally, the two firms will develop and sell car-mounted communication devices that tap into the ITS and its data.
DoCoMo’s investment in Tokyo-headquartered Pioneer is slated to go through before June 28, and it is the latest in a series of significant outlays from Japan’s largest operator.
The company beefed up its Internet retail services with the $28 million acquisition of fashion-focused Magaseek in March of this year, while it launched a Google Now-like concierge service for its subscribers weeks later.
It’s notable that DoCoMo is the only operator in Japan without a partnership with Apple. That’s said to be down to a number of reasons, including the DoCoMo services that it pre-loads onto devices, which is something that is at odds with Apple’s carrier requirements. Yet, these additional services are proving to be crucial for DoCoMo, as it battles to stand out and compete with its iPhone-toting rivals.
The deal with Pioneer is an extension of that. In the same way that app developers are moving into in-car entertainment, so DoCoMo is aiming to appeal to users seeking a ‘connected experience’ in their car. Indeed, there is plenty of scope for the concierge service to tap into the data from the Pioneer and DoCoMo systems.
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