Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo announced Monday it will acquire an additional stake in Tower Records Japan and turn the company into a subsidiary to help its mobile ambitions.
According to a company press release, DoCoMo plans to acquire an additional 8.2% of Tower Records Japan by the middle of 2012, upping its current 42.1% stake to 50.3%. The company plans to leverage its 60 million mobile subscribers to improve Tower's online sale of CDs and "other e-commerce business, in addition to in-store sales." The initiative is part of DoCoMo's "Shaping a Smart Life" vision to become an integrated services company based on mobility.
The Tower Records brand has lived on after the U.S. retailer filed for bankruptcy and was liquidated in 2006. Tower Records Japan operates 89 stores throughout the country and employs 2,160 people, according to DoCoMo's press release. A management buyout in 2002 gave the Japanese chain independence from the now-defunct international chain.
DoCoMo has had previous forays into mobile music. Napster Japan was a joint venture with DoCoMo and Tower Records Japan. DoCoMo launched a mobile version of Napster in 2007. Japanese consumers did not warm to the subscription model, however, and Napster Japan shut down in May 2010 http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/content_display/industry/news/e3i8bd724a7a615a7fe4a477dc1b1d7ac2d.