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Apple in iPhone talks with two of Japans largest carriers

Apple Inc. this month is moving on plans to launch the iPhone across parts of Asia next year, recently meeting with executives from two of Japan's premier mobile wireless carriers, sources are telling both The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

People familiar with the matter told the Journal that Apple chief executive Steve Jobs recently met with NTT DoCoMo's president, Masao Nakamura, to discuss a deal to offer the touch-screen phone and internet device through the top Japanese carrier.

Those same people said Apple has also been talking to No. 3 operator Softbank Corp. and executives from both companies have made multiple trips to Apple's Cupertino, Calif.-based headquarters.

Spokespeople for Apple, DoCoMo and Softbank all reportedly declined to comment on the talks.

For Apple, moving into Japan — the world's second-largest economy — is compelling not only because of its strong base of iPod fans, but also because of its nearly 100 million mobile-phone users who buy new phones every two years on average, the Journal said.

"Japanese consumers are also already used to shelling out hundreds of dollars for expensive phones with advanced capabilities such as digital television, camera and music."

While Softbank is reportedly expressing divine interest in partnering with Apple, it's reported that DoCoMo is likely to be the iPhone maker's first choice as a partner because of the strong preference it has shown so far for signing agreements with top mobile operators.

While discussions with both carriers remain active, neither has taken lightly to Apple's demand that it receive approximately 10 percent of iPhone service revenues, Reuters said, citing its own sources.

"If it can't reach a deal with DoCoMo, Apple may turn to Softbank, which has been making an aggressive push to take customers away from its larger rivals," the Journal added. "A person familiar with the situation said Apple doesn't expect to have any difficulty concluding a deal with a Japanese operator."

The same cannot yet be said for Apple's efforts to secure a deal in China, where it also hopes to launch iPhone sometime next year. Multiple reports last month suggested that talks between the company and China's two most popular wireless carriers — China Mobile and China Unicom — had so far failed as a result of similar revenue sharing disputes.