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Will Japan's Biggest Carrier Ever Cave to the iPhone?

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Japan's top carrier NTT DoCoMo (NYSE: DCM  ) has never offered Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPhone, and that's not about to change anytime soon. NTT DoCoMo exec Kazuto Tsubouchi recently compared the device to DisneyLand, using the theme park as a comparison for a walled garden. The carrier would prefer to have more control over the experience, something that Apple isn't willing to give up.

CEO Kaoru Kato is echoed these sentiments in a recent interview with Reuters. The executive said that NTT DoCoMo wants to "develop a lifestyle system," and that Apple's controlling ways have an adverse " impact on the services" that the carrier offers. That's why the carrier has been aggressively marketing two rival Android devices from Samsung and Sony, the Galaxy S4 and Xperia A. NTT DoCoMo has reportedly sold 830,000 Xperia A units since launch, but the Galaxy S4 has moved less than half that.

The iPhone's absence continues to hurt NTT DoCoMo's subscriber base, and the company has lost an estimated 3.2 million users over the past few years as a result. Smaller carriers Softbank and KDDI have been more than happy to welcome iPhone users. NTT DoCoMo's various service offerings are becoming less relevant as viable alternatives that are easier to use have surfaced in recent years. NTT DoCoMo may not be able to withstand the pressure much longer on the strength of its services alone.

If the carrier continues to bleed customers to Softbank and KDDI, BNP Paribas analyst Hiroshi Yamashina believes that NTT DoCoMo will have no choice but to partner with Apple eventually, even if that entails strict requirements and hefty subsidies.

Apple has plenty of opportunity with new carrier partnerships. The company's total number of iPhone carriers hasn't budged in any meaningful way in years, hovering around 240 currently. Partnering with new carriers allow the iPhone maker to tap the pent-up demand within new customer bases from those who want an iPhone but aren't willing to make the switch. One of these days, NTT DoCoMo will have to come around.

Apple may be at the forefront of the mobile revolution that's currently sweeping the globe, but there's another company riding the wave from the background. This company just recently made an announcement that could even give it a potential spot into future iPhones. Read up by clicking here.

Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 5:23 PM, Henry3Dogg wrote:

    It's absurd to state DoCoMo shuns the iPhone any more than Apple shun DoCoMo

    DoCoMo would clearly like to sell the phone and Apple would like them to sell it. Otherwise they wouldn't have been talking.

    They just can't agree terms.

    Carriers like to add lots of carrier specific "improvements" that fragment the device, destroy compatibility, and impair the user experience. Apple won't let them.

    That is one of the reasons Apple offers the best user experience and so many Android devices suck.

    But the bottom line is that telco's need this one phone, farore than Apple need any specific telco

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 6:45 PM, mylove4life455 wrote:

    Henry3Dogg .. you clueless troll... crapple has the worst phone on the market, is has so many bugs I don't know where to start...

    The rest is just pure uneducated crap...

    learn something about the POS crapple junk you use

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 7:19 PM, pwkrp wrote:

    Henry3Dogg, don't worry about myloveforlife, he is a fool and mixed up about bugs in the iPhone. If they have some they fix them, not like others and just brush it under the carpet.

  • Report this Comment On July 07, 2013, at 8:32 PM, wgima wrote:

    Guam is a territory of the United States and follows all U.S. laws.

    In 2006, Docomo entered the Guam wireless market by purchasing a local company called GuamCell.

    In 2009, the Guam Telephone Authority (GTA) a private company who had obtained the rights to selling the iPhone on Guam, announced that they would make the iPhone 3GS available in December.

    On the day that GTA announced that the iPhone was available, Docomo came out with full page ads in the local newspaper announcing that they also had iPhones for sale. After some inquiries, it turned out that they were selling unlocked grey market units and also confirmed that they were not authorized to sell the iPhone. This went on for several weeks before they stopped. I'm not sure of the reason why they stopped. Was it just a one-time deal to steal away the thunder of the authorized vendor?

    I've always wondered whether this was sanctioned by Docomo Japan. It seemed like such a curious thing to do when they refused to sell the iPhone in Japan.

    To this day, Docomo Guam has never sold the iPhone again.

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