NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest cellular carrier, revealed on Friday that it was finally willing to negotiate with Apple on selling the iPhone. This comes after months of the mobile company stating that it would not carry Apple‘s hottest device, and essentially said that it could do fine on its own with Android smartphones.
Docomo is currently the only carrier out of Japan’s top three that doesn’t offer the iPhone. Softbank, the country’s third-largest mobile company, has been partners with Apple since 2008, while Japan’s number two, KDDI, started selling the iPhone in 2011. As for Docomo, the tides have quickly changed since the release of the iPhone 5 last September. November saw the company’s first decline in subscribers in more than five years. Where were they going? To KDDI and Softbank, which both saw tremendous subscriber increases during the same month, almost exclusively for the iPhone 5.
Katoru Kato, Docomo’s new president, has said in clear terms that they would be willing to sell the iPhone if they can negotiate a mutually beneficial arrangement with Apple. In order to sell the iPhone, Apple requires carriers to sell a certain number of units per year. Kato said that if the iPhone makes up between 20 and 30% of Docomo’s overall smartphone sales, they would have no problem meeting that requirement. The carrier’s admission to being interested in Japan’s most popular smartphone comes only one day after Softbank revealed it had earned the most new subscribers in the month of December, with 274,700 contracts. Docomo, on the other hand, was third with 235,100.
Subscribers on Docomo who aren’t willing to jump ship for the iPhone shouldn’t expect to be getting the 2013 model, however, as only preliminary negotiations are being brought up with Apple. A key reason that Docomo has been so resistant to adding the iPhone to its lineup is that Apple won’t allow the carrier to run some of their proprietary services. Some of these include Docomo’s own application and media marketplaces, which would be in direct competition with Apple’s iTunes and App Stores.
[via Apple Insider]