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Mobile Phones Link to Video Games

August 1, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ Sony Corp. and NTT DoCoMo are teaming up to let users of DoCoMo’s wireless-Internet phones play video games through a link-up to Sony’s Playstation video game console.

The companies announced Tuesday that they will begin introducing interactive products later this year, but said they have not yet decided which Playstation games will be made available for DoCoMo’s hugely popular ``i-mode″ wireless service.

The agreement also extends to the next-generation wireless phones that DoCoMo plans to introduce in May.

Separately, news media reported for the second time in a week that NTT DoCoMo has formed an alliance with America Online to make AOL’s online content and e-mail accessible via DoCoMo’s i-mode phones.

The deal, which calls for both companies to invest $100 million in AOL Japan, is expected to be finalized within three weeks, The Asian Wall Street Journal said Tuesday, citing a person involved with the agreement.

DoCoMo and AOL will own a combined 80 percent stake in AOL Japan, with DoCoMo holding a slightly larger interest, the report said. AOL now owns 50 percent of AOL Japan in partnership with Mitsui & Co., a trading company that owns 40 percent, and Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a Japanese publisher owning 10 percent. Under the new arrangement, Mitsui and Nihon Keizai would share a 20 percent stake.

The partnership between Sony and DoCoMo links two extremely popular products.

Through July, Sony Computer Entertainment had shipped a total of 77.35 million Playstation consoles worldwide.

Meanwhile, nearly 10 million of DoCoMo’s customers subscribe to the i-mode service, and between 40,000 and 50,000 more are signing up every day.

NTT DoCoMo aims to be the first company in the world to launch wireless service with the ``third generation″ technology called W-CDMA, which will enable users to send and receive far more data at high speeds, including photos and moving images.

The wireless company also plans to export the i-mode service to other markets through alliances with Hong Kong’s Hutchison Telephone and Dutch cell-phone company KPN Mobile.

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