The venture arm of NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile service provider, has purchased a stake in the photo-sharing startup Cooliris from Silicon Valley. Based in Palo Alto, California, the Cooliris app allows users to share and discover photos from friends and strangers, and is available on Apple’s iPhone and smartphones powered by Google’s Android operating system. The company also just recently sold off one of its division to Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., another large mobile phone carrier in the Asian market.
The investment from NTT Docomo is the largest to be received by Cooliris from international telecommunications companies. The first came as an investment from a venture firm owned by Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile). Telecommunication service providers the world over have become very interested in getting their hands on smartphone apps and services that share data and messages. The recent trend among mobile apps has been the ability to send messages for free over data connection, bypassing the use of text messaging, and eating away at carrier’s revenue streams. Soujanya Bhumkar, Cooliris’ CEO, says that mobile carriers in Asia have been the quickest to realize this trend and look for partnerships.
Bhumkar would not state how much Docomo’s investment was worth, but did comment they would be revealing their redesigned apps for sharing photos soon. Cooliris has already been able to raise as much as $28 million large venture capital firms. In addition to Cooliris, Docomo has also recently backed the well-known service Evernote, which offers a variety of apps based on taking and sharing notes and information online.