NTT Docomo Partners With Twitter For New Location-Based Service In Japan

Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo today announced it will develop with Twitter a set of new mobile services for its domestic customer base of 58 million. Under the deal, Docomo plans to integrate a “touch and follow” app into NFC-equipped feature phones, allowing two users to start following each other just by placing their handsets together.

Docomo also says it will integrate tweets and other content from Twitter into the search results on i-mode, its web portal for feature phones starting this summer (50 million subscribers), and on the so-called “docomo market” portal for smartphones in late 2010 or early 2011.

What’s most interesting though is what Docomo hasn’t officially announced but what The Nikkei, Japan’s biggest business daily, is reporting today. According to the paper, Docomo entered a licensing agreement with Twitter to harvest “masses of tweets” in Japanese for a new type of location-based service for smartphones.

The idea is to alert users to local events, places and other information by combining keywords in tweets with times and locations in real-time (after anonymizing the data). Docomo is also expected to use information gathered this way to constantly track consumer behavior in certain locations and sell that information as a marketing tool to other companies. Docomo is planning to roll out the service this winter, the Nikkei says.

Using tweets for location-based services isn’t exactly a new idea, but it’s potentially good news for Twitter to officially license content to a partner of that size and in that advanced a mobile (test?) market.

The deal between NTT Docomo and Twitter isn’t coming as a big surprise, given how popular Twitter is in Japan. According to Nielsen Japan, the service had 17.58 million users in the country in March, the second highest number in the world.

NTT America has been Twitter’s global network partner for years.