NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM) recently surpassed Japan’s two other major carriers for the highest number of new subscriber additions for the first time since December 2011, reports Bloomberg. According to data released by NTT DoCoMo, the country’s largest carrier added 279,100 net users last month for a total of 62.2 million users.
Meanwhile, rivals KDDI and SoftBank added 222,600 and 224,300 new subscribers, respectively. Although NTT DoCoMo is Japan’s largest wireless carrier, it has lagged its competitors in monthly subscription additions for almost two years. NTT DoCoMo spokesperson Hiroko Shimoyama attributed the company’s recent gains to the addition of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.
NTT DoCoMo was initially reluctant to carry the iPhone because Apple’s iTunes Store would directly compete with DoCoMo’s own integrated services and products business. However, the company’s falling subscription rate and its rivals’ success with the iPhone eventually forced NTT DoCoMo to adopt the device. SoftBank signed a distribution deal with Apple in 2008, while KDDI has offered the iPhone since 2011. Apple and NTT DoCoMo finally announced a distribution deal in September 2013, shortly before the release of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C.
Apple has long had a cachet with Japanese consumers. Tim Cook noted Apple’s strong sales in Japan when he announced the distribution deal with NTT DoCoMo. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous success with iPhone in Japan, in fact it’s the top selling smartphone in the country, and we look forward to delivering iPhone into even more customers’ hands through NTT DOCOMO,” said Cook. Apple’s 10K revealed that Japan was the iPhone maker’s fastest growing region with 27 percent year-over-year growth in fiscal 2013.
“It’s the iPhone effect,” Iwai Cosmo Holdings analyst Tomoaki Kawasaki told Bloomberg. “All three major carriers offer the iPhone now so it will likely be a competition of connectivity, services and content offerings as they vie for subscribers.”
According to recently released data from market analyst company Kantar Worldpanel, Apple’s iPhone secured a 69.1 percent share of Japan’s smartphone market for the three-month period ending in November 2013. BCN, Japan’s leading mobile sales tracking company, showed that various versions of Apple’s iPhones took eight of the top ten spots on its most recent weekly list of top-selling smartphones in Japan.
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