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Japan’s DoCoMo feeling the pain as iPhone 5s buyers flock to competitors

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Japan’s DoCoMo, a carrier which was late to adopt the iPhone, lost more than 66,000 subscribers last month through a combination of having limited stocks of the iPhone 5s, and competitor carriers offering better deals. CNET alerted us to the number in a Nikkei report yesterday.

The iPhone has been reshaping Japan’s telecommunications market — one of the largest in the world — as it gains in popularity. DoCoMo’s problem is that it was late to the Apple phone game: the 5S and 5C are its first phone products from Apple.

Both Softbank and KDDI are offering incentives for upgrades to the 5s, and likely have better availability due to their long-established relationships with Apple. With DoCoMo also on board, the iPhone is expected to become the market leader in Japan.

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Apple brings iPhone 5s & 5c to Japan’s NTT DOCOMO, consolidates models with more LTE bands

As rumored leading up to today’s event, Apple announced today that it has struck a deal with NTT DOCOMO to bring its new iPhone lineup to Japan’s largest carrier when the device launches in multiple countries later this month. On September 20th the iPhone will launch on the carrier for the first time and Apple will also launch a single model of the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s in Japan for KDDI and Softbank. Thanks to an increase to 13 LTE bands with the new iPhone 5s and 5c— which Apple says is more than any other smartphone– it will also be able to consolidate various models of iPhones for multiple carriers in other countries.

More LTE bands means that Apple will now be offering a single iPhone 5s and 5c model for AT&T and Verizon in the US (Sprint will still get its own model), while customers in the UK will be able to use a single iPhone model for EE, Vodafone, and Three’s upcoming LTE network. Apple will also have an TD-LTE compatible version of the new iPhones, but rumors of a deal with the world’s largest telecom, China Mobile, have not yet been confirmed.

Apple does plan to launch the new iPhones in China on September 20th alongside launches in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany, France, Singapore, UK, and Japan.

NTT DOCOMO & Apple Team Up to Offer iPhone in Japan on Friday, September 20

TOKYO and CUPERTINO, California—September 10, 2013—NTT DOCOMO and Apple® today announced that iPhone® 5s, the most forward-thinking smartphone in the world, and iPhone 5c, the most colorful iPhone yet, will be available on the DOCOMO network beginning on Friday, September 20. iPhone 5s features an all-new A7 chip, making iPhone 5s the world’s first smartphone with 64-bit desktop-class architecture for blazing fast performance, an all-new 8 megapixel iSight® camera and introduces Touch ID™, an innovative way to simply and securely unlock your iPhone. iPhone 5c features an all-new design, packed with incredible features that people know and love, in five gorgeous colors—blue, green, pink, yellow and white.

“We’re thrilled to offer the incredible new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c to our customers,” said Kaoru Kato, President and CEO of NTT DOCOMO, Inc. “We know our customers will enjoy the amazing experience of iPhone on DOCOMO’s high-quality network.”

“NTT DOCOMO has built an impressive network, the largest in the nation with over 60 million customers,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous success with iPhone in Japan, in fact it’s the top selling smartphone in the country, and we look forward to delivering iPhone into even more customers’ hands through NTT DOCOMO.”

With the launch of the new iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c and iOS 7, Apple is ushering in the next generation of mobile computing, delivering an incredible new hardware and software experience that only Apple could create. iPhone 5s redefines the best smartphone experience in the world with amazing new features all packed into a remarkable thin and light design, including the Apple-designed A7 64-bit chip, all-new 8 megapixel iSight camera with True Tone flash and introducing Touch ID, an innovative way to simply and securely unlock your phone with just the touch of a finger. iPhone 5c features an all new-design, packed with features people know and love like the beautiful 4-inch Retina® display, blazing fast performance of the A6 chip, and the 8 megapixel iSight camera—all while delivering great battery life.¹ iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c both offer more LTE bands² than any other smartphone in the world and include all-new FaceTime® HD cameras.

iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c feature iOS 7, the most significant iOS update since the original iPhone, featuring a stunning new user interface, completely redesigned with an elegant color palette, distinct, functional layers and subtle motion that make it feel more alive. iOS 7 has hundreds of great new features, including Control Center, Notification Center, improved Multitasking, AirDrop®, enhanced Photos, Safari®, Siri® and introduces iTunes Radio℠, a free Internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes.³

Beginning on Friday, September 13, customers can pre-order iPhone 5c at DOCOMO dealers⁴ and the first 30,000 docomo Premier Club Premier Stage⁵ customers can pre-order from DOCOMO’s website.⁶ 

Japan’s largest wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo, reportedly in talks to sell iPhone

iPhone-5S-Champagne

iPhone 5S Champagne

Bloomberg is reporting that shares of NTT DoCoMo are rising on rumors that Japan’s largest carrier will get the iPhone this year. The company’s rivals, KDDI and Softbank (who just bought Sprint) both currently carry the iPhone and saw their share price drop in morning trading.

[DoCoMo]Chief Financial Officer Kazuto Tsubouchi said there are compelling reasons for Apple and his company to reach an agreement, according to an interview published in SankeiBiz. For Apple, it doesn’t make business sense not to allow Japan’s largest wireless carrier to sell the iPhone, while DoCoMo wants to be able to sell most popular handsets, Sankei said.

The original Sankei article is here (translated) with the relevant bit translated by 9to5Mac reader Kazuto Kusakari:

A new iPhone from Apple is expected in September.  The Japanese market are paying close attention to whether NTT docomo will be selling the new model or not.  Having sold two other models as their main phones in the past summer season, the company is ready, as the vice-president Kazuto Tsubouchi has commented “the only problem is WHEN we are going to sell it.”…

Tsubouchi adds, “Nothing has changed.  It will be difficult (to sell the iPhone on September 10th). But for Apple, it is not economically reasonable to not sell the iPhone on Japan’s largest carrier.  As for NTT docomo, we must sell phone the customers desire.  It’s a matter of terms.

Apple is also working on China’s largest carrier, China Mobile, which also doesn’t currently carry the iPhone. If Apple can hook one or optimally both of these two monster carriers, it will be able to sell significantly more iPhones in Asia.

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Report: Softbank in talks to buy Sprint for $19B

Update: Sprint provided the following statement to The Wall Street Journal:

Sprint (NYSE: S) today confirmed that it is currently engaged in discussions with Softbank regarding a potential substantial investment by Softbank in Sprint. Although there can be no assurances that these discussions will result in any transaction or on what terms any transaction may occur, such a transaction could involve a change of control of Sprint. Sprint does not intend to comment further unless and until an agreement is reached.

According to a report from Nikkei (via Bloomberg), Japan’s Softbank, the third-largest mobile carrier in the country, is currently seeking to acquire two-thirds of U.S.-based Sprint Nextel Corp. The price is rumored at roughly $19 billion USD and would make AT&T the last fully U.S.-based carrier:

Softbank Corp. (9984), Japan’s third- largest mobile-phone company, is in talks to buy control ofSprint Nextel Corp. (S), according to two people familiar with the matter…The deal would give Softbank a base for entering the U.S. market with a compatible carrier that uses similar equipment made by Sweden’s Ericsson AB, the Nikkei reported.

KDDI snags Apple’s iPhone in Japan breaking Softbank’s monopoly

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According to a Nikkei Business report (English), another iPhone carrier exclusive country has fallen. Softbank (in blue, above) in Japan has had a monopoly on the iPhone for the past three years in the world’s third largest economy. However, with the release of next iPhone, KDDI/au will carry the device. Both carriers still trail behind the leader NTT, as you can see in the un-translated image above.

According to the report, the iPhone will hit HDDI/au shops in November, a little later than the US expects to see them. If I’m not mistaken, KDDI operates a CDMA network, which is thought to be built into the upcoming worldphone iPhones.

This could still mean big market share gains for Apple in the country that Android hit by storm over the past two years.

KDDI’s shares were up 2.1% at Y642,000, while Softbank’s shares dropped 7.3% to Y2,413.