The iPhone Effect: Japan’s NTT Docomo Adds Most New Subscribers Since 2011

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Partnering with Apple turned out to be a success for Japan’s biggest wireless carrier, NTT Docomo. During the past quarter, the carrier added the most new subscribers since December 2011, reports Bloomberg.

Japan’s largest wireless carrier added 279,100 net users in December and has 62.2 million total users, according to data released by Tokyo-based Docomo today. That compares with an additional 222,600 subscribers for second-ranked KDDI Corp. and 224,300 new customers for SoftBank Corp.

After focusing on protecting its own online store, dmarket, by selling Sony and Samsung handsets, Docomo inked a deal with Apple last fall and started selling the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in September, when they hit the market worldwide.

“It’s the iPhone effect,” Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Holdings Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone. “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.”

And this isn’t just analyst talk: a Docomo spokeswoman has confirmed that the main reason for the carrier’s success during the past three months was the iPhone.

Japan is a success story of Apple’s worldwide smartphone market penetration: according to Kantar Worldpanel Comtech, the company sold three out of four smartphones in October, and had a market share 69.1% in November.

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