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Japan’s Largest Carrier Still Denies iPhone, Customers Flee

by Todd Haselton | July 5, 2013July 5, 2013 10:30 am PDT

ntt docomo sign

If you lose 3.2 million customers over the span of four years, chances are you’re doing something wrong. At least, something that’s wrong in the eyes of the consumer. And that’s exactly what has happened to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless carrier. Apparently the company has lost the aforementioned number of customers, and analysts are pointing fingers to one possible explanation: NTT DoCoMo refuses to carry the iPhone. But why?

The carrier is determined to launch its own suite of pre-installed software on every device that it sells. This works fine for phone makers who offer Android, Windows Phone and other devices – even in the United States we see this “bloatware” on dozens of handsets. Apple, however, won’t allow it. Instead, consumers can opt to install the software themselves, after they’ve setup the device. NTT DoCoMo doesn’t like that approach, and wants all of its customers to have the same software experience from the get-go.

We doubt Apple’s going to change its policies, and it sounds like NTT DoCoMo is perfectly happy losing customers so long as it can control the out-of-box experience. The carrier isn’t alone and there are others around the globe that don’t offer the iPhone, including China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier. The issue there, however, is that the iPhone may be too expensive for the mass Chinese market and China Mobile runs a TD-SCDMA network that isn’t supported by the current generation iPhone. Apple and China Mobile have been in talks this year, however, and we expect the rumored budget iPhone will plant its seeds there later this year.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...