NTT Docomo: No Plans to Add iPhone
TOKYO—NTT Docomo President Ryuji Yamada said Wednesday the mobile carrier has no plans to introduce Apple's iPhone to its lineup, saying it aims to stay competitive by offering original services for its handsets.
"We'd like to offer the same services for a variety of handsets," Yamada told a news conference in Tokyo, adding that the company plans to keep selling smartphones based on Google's Android operating system, which is an open platform.
The popular iPhone had been exclusively sold by its rival Softbank Mobile Corp. in Japan, but KDDI Corp. also started marketing the iPhone from October last year and succeeded in gaining more subscriptions.
"It is currently difficult for us to introduce the iPhone," as NTT Docomo may not be able to provide some of its services through Apple's hardware, Yamada said.
NTT Docomo unveiled a lineup of 16 new smartphones including the smartphone version of its "Raku-Raku" user-friendly mobile phone series targeting the elderly, while adding models compatible with its "Xi" high-speed data service.
As part of its efforts to enhance its cloud computing services, the new models to be sold from June to August will be capable of using its updated voice command-based application which provides answers to questions on a wide range of topics, the company said.
NTT Docomo also announced it has agreed with publishing firm Kadokawa Shoten Co. to set up a joint venture later this month to start distributing anime content for smartphones from July in Japan, with an eye to expanding the service globally in the future.
The new lineup of products, meanwhile, did not include a conventional mobile phone, but the company said it will continue marketing them and is planning to launch new models for the winter, Yamada said.
The mobile phone carrier plans to extend a period for the launch of new conventional mobile phone models from six months to about one year, the company said.
NTT Docomo said its annual smartphone sales more than tripled in fiscal 2011 ended March from the previous year to 8.82 million units, and it is aiming to sell 13 million units for the current business year.
In fiscal 2011, NTT Docomo had the leading market share of 49.2 percent in domestic mobile phone sales in terms of volume, followed by the "au" operator KDDI with 29.1 percent and Softbank Mobile with 19.7 percent, according to research firm BCN Inc.