Japan’s top wireless carrier NTT DoCoMo still doesn’t carry the iPhone, a decision its executive Katzuto Tsubouhi defended in an interview with the Wall Street Journal by arguing that Apple’s device is no longer “the god of all smartphones.”
For DoCoMo, Google’s Android software provides more opportunities to customize the experience by preloading the handsets with a flurry of the carrier’s many services and applications, something Apple strictly prohibits.
But holding out on the iPhone has come at a price as NTT DoCoMo since the iPhone’s inception lost 3.2 million users of its 60 million subscribers to rival telcos who sell the iconic smartphone. In pointing the finger of blame at Apple the carrier told Reuters that the California firm wouldn’t let it put its logo on the device and preload its lifestyle apps…
Speaking to Reuters, NTT DoCoMo CEO Kaoru Kato said the biggest problem with a potential carrier distribution agreement with Apple “is the impact on the services that we offer.”
DoCoMo’s requirement that its company logo be imprinted on all its devices also conflicts with style-conscious Apple’s insistence that its products be left as manufactured.
For those not in the know, NTT DoCoMo is a pioneer of the mobile Internet and among the first carrier’s in the world to implement advanced network services, including MMS, video calling, mobile television, email and other.
This philosophy is embodied in the carrier’s name, which is an abbreviation of “Do Communications over the Mobile network”.
The Reuters story cautions:
DoCoMo’s broad offering of exclusive features, however, is no longer attracting what has become the iPhone generation. It is expected eventually to either reach a deal with Apple or risk losing its crown at the top of its industry.
However, the deal with Apple may be inevitable as NTT DoCoMo continues bleeding customers to rivals.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, a national daily newspaper based in Tokyo, earlier this week quoted NTT DoCoMo CEO Kaoru Kato as confirming that his company is indeed negotiating with Apple regarding carrying iPhones.
We are fine with iPhones taking up 20 to 30 percent of our total cell phone sales, but we are not sure yet if Apple approves.
We provide not only smartphones but also services and communications networks. Since iPhones are unique smartphones, NTT DoCoMo’s entire strategy should be modified if iPhones’ share of NTT DoCoMo’s total smartphone sales increased.
Kato’s predecessor reportedly said at a shareholder meeting last year that Apple was demanding iPhones make up half of NTT DoCoMo’s handset sales.
Previously, vice president for the carrier said that “the question we need to ask is how many customers will continue to leave DoCoMo from now on because we don’t have the iPhone”.
In November 2012 alone, NTT DoCoMo lost more than 40,000 customers because it did not have the iconic smartphone in its roster. In June, they lost 146,900 existing users to other carriers, the 53rd consecutive month of such losses.
Even though NTT DoCoMo is pushing Android handsets like crazy, in turn causing a slide in Apple’s smartphone share in the country, Japan recently lost its spot as the third-largest smartphone market in the world to India.
During the 2012 holiday shopping season, the iPhone emerged as Japan’s top-selling smartphone accounting for a 42 percent total share while rival Samsung achieved only one-fifth of iPhone’s sales.
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