Japan’s DoCoMo paying heavily for not carrying Apple iPhone

“NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan’s largest mobile provider and a pioneer of the mobile Internet, is one of just a few holdouts among the world’s big mobile carriers not offering Apple Inc’s iPhone to its 60 million customers,” Sophie Knight and Maki Shiraki report for Reuters.

“It is paying heavily for that obstinacy – with a net 3.2 million users jumping ship to its two domestic rivals over the last 4-1/2 years – but is determined to protect the walled garden of services it has built around its own smartphones,” Knight and Shiraki report. “‘We’re trying to develop a lifestyle system,’ NTT DoCoMo CEO Kaoru Kato told Reuters in an interview this week.”

MacDailyNews Take: Kaoru Kato, repeate after us: “NTT DoCoMo is a dumb pipe. NTT DoCoMo is a dumb pipe. NTT DoCoMo is a dumb pipe…” Keep going until you get it. Nobody wants your half-assed carrier crap.

Knight and Shiraki report, “While customers and even some executives increasingly clamor for it to relent and sign an iPhone deal, DoCoMo is showing no signs of softening towards Apple. ‘The biggest problem is the impact on the services that we offer,’ Kato said.”

MacDailyNews Take: Keep repeating…

Knight and Shiraki report, “DoCoMo’s broad offering of exclusive features, however, is no longer attracting what has become the iPhone generation. It is expected eventually to either reach a deal with Apple or risk losing its crown at the top of its industry… DoCoMo’s requirement that its company logo be imprinted on all its devices also conflicts with style-conscious Apple’s insistence that its products be left as manufactured.”

MacDailyNews Take: Keep repeating…

Knight and Shiraki report, “DoCoMo is still hemorrhaging customers to its rivals, with monthly data on Friday showing a net loss of 146,900 existing users to other carriers in June, the 53rd consecutive month of such losses.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bad leadership with intransigent, antiquated ideas is a recipe for disaster.

NTT DoCoMo will sign a deal for iPhone and they will do so largely according to Apple’s terms, regardless of whether the very confused Kaoru Kato remains as CEO or not.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related article:
How Apple’s iPhone conquered Japan – May 6, 2013


  1. CEO will be gone, he will not be allowed to keep his position after so many quarters of losing customers. I’m shocked he is still in charge. The Japanese are more patient than I thought.

  2. From their angle, this much is clear. Last six years of iPhone’s existence clearly showed that carriers who adopt the iPhone have rapidly been transformed into the “dumb pipes” that MDN loves referring to. When a carrier is nothing more than dumb pipe, there is nothing it can leverage to differentiate themselves other than the price of their services. Under the old model, still practiced conservatively around large number of carriers around, handset makers are providers of commodity devices, which carriers then take, customise (in other words, cripple), brand with their own carrier branding, and bundle with their services. This was the perfect way for heavily monetising every tiny little aspect of their services. You want to buy a song? Go to carrier’s online store and buy it for a low-low price of $4.99. Wanna make a ringtone out of that song? Just $1.99 more…

    When the most significant source of revenue isn’t base plan, but is nickle-and-diming from these add-on services (as well as mark-up on handsets), they simply can’t imagine making a profit while competing with other players just on the pricing of their voice/text/data packages.

    I say, good luck to them. They are going to need a lot of it.

    1. They can charge the 3 customers they have left all they want to.

      Idiotic to preserve the charge your customers to death policy if time and having no customers left. People want iPhones, period. Android is a second rate also ran and increasingly seen as second rate as Samsung collapses, fragmentation and malware explode.

      1. Yes that kind of old model phone company “ripping off customers with exorbitant service prices” ship has sailed. (I.e. ridiculous prices for simple data text messages.) Dumb pipes indeed. These phone companies are only about one step away from disappearing under a new paradigm shift already.

  3. Don’t let them add their logo to the phone, open that door once and every other carrier will demand it.

    Apple held out against Verizon, they can stick it to DoCoMo.

  4. From what I could gather on other borums, DoCoMo seems to be rapidly developing an image of an Old People’s Carrier — a smartphone with a rotary dial…

    If the management isn’t quite aware of it yet, such a market segment is a rapidly shrinking one. And such an image doesn’t help either.

  5. The DoCoMo CEO said he don’t need no stinkin’ iPhone. He’s got Samsung and the Galaxy S4 holding the fort and Android is just as good as iOS if not better. He doesn’t sound scared to me.

  6. Japanese companies do not change their corporate culture very quickly. It’s possible that they will lose millions more customers instead of accepting Apple’s terms.

  7. Why the hell would it matter where customers got their iPhone?
    Or is Japan one of the countries where you can only buy an iPhone through your carrier?
    Just hope Apple’s contract terms aren’t perpetuating these situations in some countries.

  8. “53rd consecutive month of such losses” ?

    Can someone please question the CEO? Where is the board? I guess it’s pride at this point. Giving in and signing an iPhone deal this many years after is kinda embarrassing.

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