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At yesterday's iPhone event, Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) senior VP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, confirmed speculation that Apple will be launching the iPhone with Japan's NTT DoCoMo (NYSE: DCM ) . As Japan's largest carrier in one of Apple's biggest markets, you can bet the carrier will sell several million iPhones.
Apple's hot Japanese market
Japan is a big market for Apple, deserving of its own geographic segment on the company's financial statements. In Apple's third quarter, Japan accounted for 7.3% of total revenue -- and that's without the country's largest carrier on board. And unlike Apple's paltry market share in China, IDC's recent quarterly data highlights Apple as the top-selling smartphone in the country, making up more than a quarter of smartphone sales.
Even more, Japan is a fast-growing market for Apple. In its most recent quarter, iPhone unit sales were up 20% year over year. In Japan, however, iPhone sales grew an impressive 66% from the year-ago quarter.
The DoCoMo powerhouse
Now, with NTT DoCoMo on board, Japan looks set to move the needle on iPhone sales. Boasting nearly 62 million mobile subscribers (about half of Japan's population) DoCoMo is a large carrier. Comparatively, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint have 100 million, 44 million, and 53 million subscribers, respectively.
If history is any indication of the iPhone's potential in Japan, the addition of NTT DoCoMo could help Apple lock in a monstrous quarter in the country. In the fiscal first quarter of 2013, which was the first full quarter of iPhone 5 availability, Apple put up a healthy 25% revenue growth in its Japan segment, outpacing the 15% growth in the Americas region.
NTT DoCoMo knows firsthand how powerful demand in Japan is for the iPhone. In November of last year, shortly after the iPhone 5 was launched, the Japanese carrier acknowledged that it lost 40,800 subscribers due to customers switching to other carriers for the iPhone 5.
With Japan's largest carrier now carrying the iPhone, the country looks set to continue as one of Apple's hottest growth markets.