Japan’s number three mobile carrier Softbank Corp. announced late yesterday that it has struck a deal with Apple to sell the iPhone to the tech savvy Japanese public. Sales of the iPhone should begin sometime this year. Softbank was able to beat Japan’s number one service provider, NTT DoCoMo, for the coveted right to carry the iPhone. Last year NTT DoCoMo was in negotiations with Apple to sell the iPhone but talks broke down over Apple’s demand for a share of subscriber revenue.
Softbank isn’t saying much about the deal. It’s unknown whether Softbank will be the exclusive iPhone provider in Japan or if the company is sharing subscriber revenue with Apple.
Softbank has been chipping away at number one and number two service providers NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp. with aggressive marketing and low-price plans. Softbank has 18.77 million subscribers in Japan but has a long way to go to reach the number two position held by KDDI.
As of the end of March this year, Apple sold 5.4 million iPhones globally. The company has set the goal of selling at least 10 million units by the end of this year. Recently, Apple has had difficulty keeping up with the demand for the iPhone. Many industry analysts predict Apple will sell well over 10 million handsets by the end of this year.