Ntt doCoMo, Japan's largest mobile-phone carrier, said last week that its full-year profit rose 15 percent after it sold its stake in Redmond-based...

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NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile-phone carrier, said last week that its full-year profit rose 15 percent after it sold its stake in Redmond-based AT&T Wireless to Cingular Wireless.


But that’s little comfort knowing how much DoCoMo paid for the shares to begin with in November 2000: $9.8 billion. Last week, it said it booked a 501.8 billion yen gain (roughly $4.74 billion) on the sale of those shares.


Apparently, the Japanese carrier learned its lesson on making such costly investments. It also said it would start a venture firm in San Jose, Calif., called DoCoMo Capital to invest in mobile technologies.


The amount of money the fund has to invest? A maximum of $100 million, according to the company.



Piled high

InfoSpace of Bellevue released a survey last week that found only 3 percent of the results returned on the first page of three popular search engines were the same.


InfoSpace conveniently also launched a new version of Dogpile.com, which uses metasearch technology that combines “the best results” of Google, Yahoo!, Ask Jeeves (and soon MSN Search).


Brian Bowman, InfoSpace vice president of marketing and product management, said that’s important because 90 percent of searchers don’t go past the first page.


“One search engine doesn’t equal the Web,” he said.


In a quick study of our own, the study largely rang true. When searching Xbox 360 pics, no results overlapped among the engines. When searching Britney Spears, four results were found by all three.



Wired for wireless

Last week, some of the biggest Northwest names in telecom shared ideas about the wireless industry at an invitation-only event put on by SeaPoint Ventures, a Bellevue venture-capital firm.


In opening remarks, Mark Lowenstein, a telecom consultant and managing director of Mobile Ecosystem, said the ring-tone market was dead. That prompted audience members to defend the 30-second tunes, saying music snippets would continue to be popular because they were an item of personalization for cellphone subscribers, much as how people have different tastes in clothing.


Lowenstein clarified his statement, saying it was the business model he questioned. If others were offering music-subscription services for $60 a year, why would someone be willing to spend $3.50 for 30 seconds?


“Where are the business models reconciling there?” he asked.



Sunspot?

The novelty of Steve Ballmer and Scott McNealy yukking it up together has worn off now that Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have been working together on software projects for a year or so. They had to reach deep into their joke book to leaven a joint appearance in Palo Alto, Calif., yesterday.


McNealy threw out a few obligatory IBM barbs and Ballmer joked about a scratch on his head.


“No, the scratch in my head was not from Scott,” Ballmer said during the grip-and-grin photo op.