DoCoMo may finally sell iPhone

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DoCoMo may finally sell iPhone

Apple, the world’s most-valuable company, is nearing a final agreement to offer its iPhone through the largest mobile carrier in Japan, NTT DoCoMo, according to people familiar with the situation.

DoCoMo may begin offering the iPhone later this year, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Apple will debut new iPhones at a Tuesday event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, a person familiar with the matter has said. For Apple, the agreement would eliminate one of the largest remaining holdouts for its smartphone, which has been overtaken in sales by Samsung Electronics handsets. SoftBank and KDDI, the next two largest mobile carriers in Japan, already offer the iPhone. Closing a deal with DoCoMo would leave China Mobile as the last major Asian carrier that Apple doesn’t have an agreement with.

“That will promote the shift toward smartphones from feature phones in Japan,” Hitoshi Hayakawa, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG in Tokyo, said yesterday. “Smartphone penetration is still about 40 percent in Japan, and there is room for growth.”

Adding a provider that controls the largest share of Japan’s mobile-phone market is critical for Apple as sales and profit growth have slowed and it seeks new customers to buy its handsets. Apple plans to open a store in Tokyo’s upscale Omotesando shopping district as early as March, adding its first outlet in the city since 2005, a person familiar with the plans said last month.

DoCoMo has been adding fewer subscribers than rivals, partly because it doesn’t offer the iPhone. DoCoMo added 43,000 user in August, compared with 209,200 and 250,300 for KDDI and SoftBank.


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