The Fourth largest mobile carrier in Japan, Willcom, has filed for bankruptcy. Looking at their subscriber base over recent years it’s not surprising as they’ve been struggling to increase their customer numbers.
In the 2006/2007 time frame Willcom was considered as the top Smartphone carrier for individuals and small businesses. If you were looking for a smartphone (mostly windows mobile based) with qwerty keyboards, they were the provider of choice.
But this was before iPhone and Android mobiles were introduced into the market. Since that time, market share for Willcom has decreased.
Even though they have filed for bankruptcy there have been promises of continued service for subscribers as it restructures. But I can’t help but think customers will leave in flocks to other operators as they hear this bankruptcy news. The current shareholdings of companies; Carlyle, Kyocera, and KDDI will lose their investment.
Willcom says that they are in talks with Softbank about a possible spin-off of their services. They have also filed for Japanese government aid to help turn around the company coming out of the bankruptcy. Just last week the government aid organization agreed to help struggling Japan Airlines restructure their company.
For more details on this news, NY Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi has the story.