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Thursday, January 10, 2013, 10:57 pm PT (01:57 am ET)

Japan's NTT DoCoMo wants iPhone access as Apple partners gain subscribers

Japan's No. 1 cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo on Friday said it would be willing to negotiate a deal to sell the iPhone, a device that has become a driving force in net subscriber growth for Apple's partner carriers in the country.

DoCoMo iPhone


The president of NTT DoCoMo, Katoru Katō, said his company would be willing to add the iPhone to its existing lineup if the telecom can reach a mutually beneficial arrangement with Apple, reports the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (via Brightwire).

Apple requires partner carriers to sell a predetermined amount of iPhones per year and Kato said that DoCoMo can reach that number if the handset accounts for 20 to 30 percent of the company's overall smartphone sales. The telecom expects to bring in over $11 billion from Android-related e-commerce sales by the end of 2015.

A DoCoMo iPhone may not happen anytime soon, however, as the company is only now in preliminary negotiations to bring Apple's popular device onto its smartphone network.

News of Kato's willingness to adopt the iPhone comes one day after the Telecommunications Carriers Association announced that rival SoftBank raked in the most subscribers in December, signing up a total of 274,700 net contracts. The Japanese telecom, which started in the mobile industry after taking over Vodafone's Japan business, recently expanded into the U.S. after buying a controlling interest in Sprint.

Coming in second was KDDI with 239,200 net contracts while DoCoMo was third with 235,100 net subs. The statistics come one month after NTT DoCoMo announced its biggest ever net loss of subscribers in November, blaming the mass exodus on the iPhone.