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Japan's DoCoMo to carry Apple's iPhone starting this fall - report

Japan's largest wireless carrier, NTT DoCoMo, appears to have settled its differences with Apple and will begin supporting the iPhone when it goes on sale this year, according to a new report.

Word of the agreement emerged on Thursday from Yahoo! Japan, which says DoCoMo customers can likely expect to see Apple's handset "this fall." Previous reports have had the iPhone 5 successor launching in Japan on September 20, 10 days after its expected unveiling.

DoCoMo landing the iPhone would likely prove beneficial to both the carrier and Apple. Apple's smartphone has sold well in Japan, but it has always been limited in that it had no access to the nation's largest carrier. DoCoMo's roughly 60 million customers constitute nearly half of Japan's population.

For DoCoMo, the addition of the iPhone patches a massive hole in its wireless device offerings. Executives at the carrier have previously played down any notion that not having the iPhone was hurting business, but last year the carrier blamed the lack of an iPhone offering for a net loss in customers over one quarter.

The main issue between the two firms was reportedly DoCoMo's desire to install the carrier's proprietary apps on the device before their sale to customers. Apple's staunch refusal to allow carrier-installed apps on the iPhone meant that the two companies were at an impasse, one that lasted years.

This year saw increased interaction between the two companies, with DoCoMo's president saying in January that they were working on a mutually beneficial agreement. More recently, the carrier's chief financial officer said that it made good business sense for DoCoMo to work with Apple on getting the iPhone onto its network.

It is unclear which, if either, firm eventually bent in negotiations over price and pre-installed apps. Neither DoCoMo nor Apple has made comment on the reports.