KDDI will carry the iPhone 5, ending Softbank’s iPhone exclusivity in Japan

Mon, Sep 26, 2011


It’s a common thought that if one wants to see where US technology is headed, a quick trip over to Japan would be endlessly informative.

Because of Japan’s reputation for being on the cutting edge of technology – video chatting via phone was in use there long before the iPhone 4 came out – there were a lot of skeptics who doubted Apple’s ability to gain a foothold in the smartphone market there.

The iPhone, however, proved to be a success there almost immediately. Softbank, which is currently the exclusive iPhone provider in Japan, reported a 500% increase in profits during its most recent fiscal quarter, an incredible increase that CEO Maasyoshi Son attributed to the popularity of the iPhone and the iPad.

But Softbank’s days as the exclusive iPhone provider in Japan are numbered.

The Nikkei, a local business paper in Japan, reported late last week that Japanese carrier KDDI is set to join the iPhone party when it begins offering Apple’s next-gen iPhone in late 2011 or early 2012.

The deal will allow the Japanese telecom firm to offer the latest version of the popular smartphone, ending Softbank Corp.’s exclusive deal with Apple in Japan and possibly shaking up the cell phone market.

KDDI will probably start selling the smartphone next year because it will take time for preparations. Its flat-rate monthly fee for data communication is expected to be in the 4,000-yen range, which is similar to Softbank’s fee.

As a quick aside, 4,000 yen is approximately $52.

News of impending competition, not surprisingly, didn’t bode well for Softbank as shares of the company fell 10% on the rumor.

“I’m bracing myself for a huge shake-up in the sector for the next six to 12 months,” IDC Japan analyst Michito Kimura explained. Specifically, Softbank may lower its monthly fees to keep subscribers frustrated with network quality (sound familiar?) from jumping ship to KDDI.

via Yahoo Finance



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