The top carrier in Japan, NTT DoCoMo, is set to announce a big licensing deal with Twitter in the coming hours.

Data, data, data

The telecom mammoth is partnering with Twitter in order to release various types of applications based on Twitter’s massive amount of data.

The first service would be a new type of location-based service in Japan, set to launch in Q4.

The trick? Instead of using the traditional “follow” command on Twitter directly, users equipped with near-field-communication (NFC) devices will just have to touch each other’s phone to establish a mutual follow relationship.

The point? Alerting users about local information (events for instance) through the firehose of information, using the current location.

The uptake? DoCoMo will be able to survey users’ behaviors with ultra-local precision. Data that it will use to enhance its offering but that it also could sell to marketers.

DoCoMo also envisions to add Twitter results in its i-mode portal (the ancestor to today’s app stores and such) this summer already. Other applications will be announced at a later stage.

Twitter in Japan?

In Japan, Twitter has been a huge success, to the point that Katie Jacob Stanton, VP International Strategy, recently admitted that roughly 25% of tweets are now coming from here.

Until now, Twitter had only directly dealt with SoftBank, the #3 mobile operator in Japan having installed a Twitter button on some of its phones (think of it as a shortcut).

SoftBank is also rumored to develop its own Twitter client for both feature- and smart- phones, although not much is known at this stage.


The deal obviously raises some privacy concerns. Nikkei affirms that all data will be anonymized. And, let’s be clear, Twitter’s updates are already in the open anyway —unless one has set the account on private. Still, I’m rather certain that there will be some reaction in a country that had so many concerns about Google Street View —again a case of public data, just suddenly gathered in one place.


The actual use of NFC seems a bit limited at this point —maybe a way to lure users to have fun with their groups of known friends around them—, but I wouldn’t exclude some further developments with ultra-local deals down the line.

Now, learning that the biggest mobile telco in the world partnering with Twitter remains very interesting.

Will DoCoMo be able to correctly channel the amount of data in order to offer both added-value for its customers and its ad partners? Will this further establish Twitter’s presence in Japan —the news coming roughly a month after the first ever country manager was announced in the country— ?

On the other side of the ocean, I’m sure Twitter is listening carefully. If this proves successful, don’t be surprised to see the model replicated elsewhere.