DoCoMo Loses Most Users Ever as IPhone Fails to Halt Slide

DoCoMo Loses Most Users Ever as IPhone Fails to Halt Slide

NTT DoCoMo Inc. (9437), Japan’s largest mobile phone carrier, lost the most subscribers on record even after adding Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhones to its lineup as it attempts to regain market share from SoftBank Corp. (9984) and KDDI Corp. (9433) DoCoMo lost 66,800 net users in September, the company said in an e-mail today. SoftBank added 270,700 and KDDI 232,700 users, according to the carriers. DoCoMo’s share of mobile users slumped to 46 percent in September, compared with 52 percent in 2008, as first SoftBank Corp. and then KDDI Corp. won Japanese consumers with Apple handsets.Apple introduced two new smartphones last month, including a cheaper version in bright colors and an updated high-end device DoCoMo began selling on sale Sept. 20. The carrier had resisted the iPhone to focus on handsets from Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. and protect its online store, called dmarket, from competition with Apple’s iTunes.

“DoCoMo must offer more incentives for existing users to remain with the carrier,” said Eiji Mori, an analyst at BCN Inc. in Tokyo.

DoCoMo attributed the subscriber loss to customers who delayed purchases until after Apple’s new mobiles went on sale Sept. 20 and insufficient stock of those handsets, said Atsuko Suzuki, a company spokeswoman. Rival carriers’ marketing strategies also hurt sales, she said.

DoCoMo had a total of 61.8 million subscribers last month, followed by KDDI with 39 million and SoftBank with 34 million.

Market Share

DoCoMo, which has gained 24 percent this year, fell 1.2 percent to 1,542 yen at the close in Tokyo. SoftBank, which has more than doubled, added 2.9 percent and KDDI, which has gained 69 percent in the same period, was unchanged at 5,160 yen.

SoftBank accounted for 39.5 percent of Japanese sales of Apple’s two new models, while DoCoMo took a 31.9 percent market share and KDDI controlled 28.6 percent, according to estimates from BCN, which compiles data from appliance and electronics chain stores.

To contact the reporter on this story: Grace Huang in Tokyo at

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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