Apple's (AAPL) iPhone Finally Grabs the Attention of Japan's Largest Carrier

January 11, 2013 9:10 AM EST
"Hey, we're totally cool with it!" - Japan's NTT DoCoMo.

So, let's say the unlikely event that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and China Mobile (NYSE: CHL) don't end up striking a deal, what's next for the venerable maker of iPhones and iPads? After all, devices are already available in China through two other carriers, that's not too bad, right?

How about Japan?

How about the largest carrier in Japan?

Well, the iPhone is already available in Japan via it partnership with SoftBank. However, Apple might be able to get more exposure to the country of Pocky and Pokémon.

On Thursday, NTT DoCoMo said it would be open to the idea of carrying one of the world's most popular smartphones amid competition from its larger rival. DoCoMo President Kaoru Kato noted that Apple has sales quotas at that DoCoMo would be able to meet them should the device account for 20 percent to 30 percent of smartphone sales.

DoCoMo never showed interest in the iPhone before, so why the change now? Last quarter, the carrier said it lost 40,000 subs, largely due to interest in the iPhone 5 carried by rivals. That was the first drop in five years and its largest user decline on record.

In its most recent quarter, the company reported subs of 61 million. By comparison, SoftBank has about 30.5 million and China Mobile boasts 705 million (though a smaller percentage are 3G subs).

If we're being honest today, Apple and China Mobile are likely to ink something in 2013. But, getting broader exposure to the Japanese market couldn't hurt either.

Shares of Apple are indicated for a lower open Friday.

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