Japan’s top carrier thinks iPhone is no longer king of the hill


Remember the days of carriers acting like teenagers at a Justin Bieber concert when it came to the iPhone? That all-out adoration of Apple’s flagship device is waning – especially in Japan. The country’s largest wireless provider sees no hurry in offering the iPhone as Android alternatives grow in popularity.

In a Wall Street Journal interview today, a senior executive vice-president at NTT DoCoMo says things have changed. The question isn’t how many customers the iPhone would attract, but how many customer would leave if the Apple device isn’t sold…

“There will always be some customers who switch to the iPhone, but things have changed from the time in the past when the iPhone looked like the god of all smartphones,” Katzuto Tsubouhi todl The Wall Street Journal.


Of course, there’s another facet to it.

The problem with selling the iPhone is that Apple maintains tight control of the smartphone’s Home screen, blocking carrier’s from dumping their apps and links on the tidy screen.

Add the fact DoCoMo uses services based on Android, “so we have to give up on them,” the executive explained.

iPhone 5 (two-up, white, front, back, left-angled)

Although NTT DoCoMo has more than 60 million customers, it would not be averse to adding more by offering the iPhone. Indeed, the company lost more than 40,000 customers in November because it did not have the iconic smartphone in its roster.

“I don’t think it is indispensable for us to sell the iPhone,” Tsubouhi said. “Android phones have become more competitive” since 2012, he added.

DoCoMo does offer a number of high-end Android phones.

The power of having the huge carrier behind a brand was evident when the firm promoted Samsung and Sony handsets recently. The result: Sony phones flew to No. 1 while Apple saw its smartphone market share in Japan fall.

There is a decided tone that the carrier feels it can thrive without Apple in its corner.

Listen to this comment by the DoCoMo VP:

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.

The casual attitude toward selling iPhones in Japan comes as the nation loses its spot as the third-largest smartphone market. India, who’s consumers are quickly adopting inexpensive smartphones, is the face of the future.