Currently the iPhone 4S is available on Softbank (formerly Vodafone Japan) and KDDI’s au network.
Ryuji Yamada, the president and chief executive of DoCoMo told Dow Jones “we haven’t given up our hope of introducing the iPhone”. But further analysis by Mobile in Japan reveals that Yamada might be nervous that the iPhone might end up dominating their handset offering:
“If the introduction of the iPhone results in the mass majority of our products occupied by the iPhone, then that’s a scenario that’s difficult to us to swallow”.
We covered the sensational success of the iPhone 4S launch on KDDI’s au network earlier in the year. Analysts noted that many au subscribers had been waiting for Apple’s flagship device to launch on their network, and how it helped KDDI to steal a lead against Softbank.
DoCoMo has traditionally sought to keep its unique features built into its handset range. These include a mobile wallet and its i-mode browser, which failed to take off in the European market. It’s unlikely that Apple would allow this kind of customisation to its devices and this is likely to have caused a stalemate between them and Japan’s biggest carrier.
DoCoMo’s 60 million subscribers still hold on to 50% of the market in Japan, but according to figures by Mobile in Japan, they’ve continued to lose subscribers at a higher rate than its two main competitors since mid-October. This times perfectly with the launch of the 4S on au/KDDI and Softbank.
Will the iPhone finally reach Japan’s biggest carrier? We’re still waiting.