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Tuesday, September 10, 2013, 02:53 pm PT (05:53 pm ET)

Apple focuses on Asian market with launch day iPhones for China launch, NTT DoCoMo deal

During Tuesday's unveiling of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c, Apple announced that China will be part of the initial launch on Sept. 20, and finally inked a deal with Japan's largest cellular carrier NTT DoCoMo.

iPhone 5s


When the new iPhones hit store shelves on Sept. 20, China will be one of the regions to participate in the launch, a first for the country that seems indicative of Apple's strategy to expand into the Far East.

Apple currently sells the iPhone through partner carriers China Telecom and China Unicom, but has yet to tap into the over 740 million subscribers on China Mobile. That may soon change, however, as both the iPhone 5s and 5c will come in variants that support the TD-LTE bands China Mobile uses as its 4G backbone.

As for the Japanese market, Apple has finally secured an arrangement with NTT DoCoMo, the nation's largest carrier. Since the first iPhone model was released in 2007, DoCoMo has been reticent to adopt the smartphone, instead choosing to push yearly upgrades to a host of handsets made by local firms like Sharp and Panasonic.

In late 2012, the dominant Japanese telecom blamed the iPhone for the biggest loss of subscribers in one month, which came out to 40,800 people. DoCoMo subsequently said it was willing to negotiate with Apple in January as providers Softbank and KDDI continued to gain subscribers.

Apple's push into Asia is not unexpected given the growth potential of the region. On Monday, one analyst predicted that a deal with both China Mobile and DoCoMo would drive 35 million additional iPhone sales for 2014.