NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile operator, has rejected speculation that it is preparing to launch the iPhone and iPad next year, stating that it has yet to reach an agreement with Apple, according to Reuters.
The denial came in response to local media reports that the carrier, which boasts 58 million customers, would begin sales of an HSDPA-supported iPad as early as next summer, with the iPhone following in autumn 2012.
The operator confirmed that it is in discussions with Apple when, last month, it admitted that it “hadn’t given up hope” of carrying the devices. However, by its own admission, a number of critical issues — including the bundling of DoCoMo’s standard software and concerns over the large requirement of shipments — are still to be ironed out before an agreement can be reached.
Though it does not offer the iPhone, DoCoMo provides a dedicated tariff plan to accommodate existing iPhone owners who are looking to migrate over to its network. The carrier has placed considerable emphasis on its high-end Android range, which includes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Android has the largest user-base of any smartphone in Japan, according to DoCoMo figures, which claim that the Google-owned operating system accounts for 70-80 percent of the total smartphone market in Japan.
The October launch of the iPhone 4S saw Apple extend its number of partners in Japan through the addition of KDDI, which joined long-term Apple partner SoftBank in offering the company’s latest smartphone to its customers.