Apple announced on Tuesday a major deal to bring the iPhone to Japan's largest wireless carrier, DoCoMo. DoCoMo is the largest carrier in the developed world to have resisted carrying the iPhone, and the deal significantly extends Apple's reach with the iPhone.
DoCoMo and Apple
Apple said that both the iPhone 5s and 5c—also announced on Tuesday—will be available for DoCoMo customers starting on September 20th. That's the same day the devices will launch in the U.S. iPhone 5c will be available for preorder at DoCoMo on September 13th, also the same day as in the U.S.
DoCoMo has some 60 million customers, not quite half of Japan's total population of 127.6 million people. That may pale in comparison to China Mobile's 745 million customers (as of July), with 147 million 3G customers, but it's an important prize nonetheless.
DoCoMo is the sole holdout of Japan's major carriers. KDDI and Softbank have long been on board with the iPhone, and they have used it to steadily take marketshare away from DoCoMo.
DoCoMo's reason for holding out has apparently been the company's desire to maintain its own app, video, and music ecosystem. Earlier this year, the company's CEO said hat he would be interested in carrying the iPhone as long as he could limit the number of customers who purchase the device.
You know, because that's awesome.
Tuesday's deal either includes limited numbers of iPhones for DoCoMo's network or the reality that losing market share has become more important to DoCoMo than artificially preserving its content ecosystem.
My guess is the later is the case. Either way, this is a big win for Apple and DoCoMo, both.