Apple's iPhone Starts Carrier Battle in Japan with iPhone 5S Going Free on Contract
Apple’s Japanese partner carriers recently announced price plans for the latest iPhones with each provider offering the entry level version of the flagship iPhone 5S for free with a two-year contract, a move seemingly sparked by NTT DoCoMo’s agreement to sell the device. With the announcement that Japan’s largest cellular provider NTT DoCoMo would start sales of Apple’s iPhone for the first time; the country’s three major carriers now have access to the device.
In what looks to be a price war to attract new customers, all three telecoms; DoCoMo, SoftBank and KDDI, are offering the iPhone 5S with discounts that effectively make the phone free on contract. As noted by the folks over at CNET
, the special pricing only applies to the 16 GB version of the handset. As with any subsidized device, limitations apply to early upgraders, though the up-front fee is still less than what customers in the US have to pay. Interestingly enough, only KDDI is offering a free version of the cheaper iPhone 5C with a new contract activation or transfer from another carrier.
In addition, DoCoMo is running a promotion to lure existing iPhone users away from rival networks. The promotion states if an iPhone owner brings their used SoftBank or KDDI handset, they will receive special bonus “points” that can be applied to a new DoCoMo account, redeemable for other products or repair services.
As of right now, it remains to be seen what effect the iPhone will ultimately have on Japan’s smartphone market, which was previously dominated by domestic products. Subscriber statistics appear to show Apple’s handset quickly gaining market share. Some industry watchers believe Apple stands to gain roughly 35 million additional iPhone sales in 2014 as a result of new deals with DoCoMo and China Mobile. The latter has yet to announce partnership with Apple, though both the iPhone 5C and 5S were granted a network license from the Chinese government earlier this week, allowing it to operate on the unique TD-LTE bands used by the world’s largest cellular provider.