NTT DoCoMo nearing iPhone deal with Apple - report

NTT Docomo nearing iPhone deal with Apple – report

27 AUG 2013

NTT Docomo’s chief executive, Kazuto Tsubouchi, told SankeiBiz there are compelling reasons to sell the iPhone, suggesting perhaps that a deal with Apple is drawing closer.

Tsubouchi had previously indicated that the operator may consider selling the iPhone if it could limit the smartphone’s share of sales to less than 30 percent of the company’s total.

Jun Otori, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Docomo, quoted by Bloomberg, declined to comment on the Sankei interview, claiming there was no change in the operator’s position.

The new interview with NTT DoCoMo’s finance chief comes at a time when subscriber growth at Japan’s largest mobile operator is falling behind rivals SoftBank and KDDI.

From Apple’s point of view, there are also compelling reasons to hook up with Docomo. According to some estimates, Apple’s iPhone has a 42 per cent share of the smartphone market in Japan. That gives much scope for the Cupertino giant to expand. It is also a crucial market for the vendor in Asia Pacific, in light of data from IDC last week suggesting that Apple is losing market share in all countries across the continent except Japan.

There have, however, been sticking points in reaching an agreement between the two companies. Reuters reports that Docomo’s list of demands has prevented Apple from playing ball.

These include allowing Docomo to preinstall its own proprietary apps and services on the iPhone, as well as allowing the Japanese firm to put its logo on every iPhone it sells.

Earlier this month, Docomo was reportedly lining up Fujitsu, Sharp and Sony as the lead partners for its winter 2013 handset portfolio refresh, with Samsung dropping from the list.

According to Reuters, the global handset number one has not been selected due to the lack of a new flagship – although its Galaxy Note III is expected to be announced early next month.

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Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

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