Despite offering the iPhone to its customers for the first time ever, September saw Japan’s NTT DoCoMo suffer its worst-ever month of customer attrition. It seems there just weren’t enough iPhone 5s and 5c devices to go around.
Despite finally becoming an Apple carrier partner for the iPhone, more than 66,000 customers left NTT’s DoCoMo mobile telecommunications unit in September, the company said Monday in an e-mail reported by Bloomberg. In contrast, competitors SoftBank and KDDI reported subscriber gains of 270,700 and 232,700, respectively, over the same period.
The iPhone 5s and 5c has proven to be a two-edged sword for DoCoMo. While sales for the new devices were brisk in September, it appears many of the customers who did jump ship from the Japanese carrier did so because they were waiting for the new iPhones, and when DoCoMo exhausted their supplies, the customers simply went to the other carriers.
DoCoMo was hoping that by offering the iPhone, it would cut some of the losses in subscriber numbers that the carrier had been experiencing. While the carrier is Japan’s largest, counting almost half of Japan’s population as customers, the numbers showed that more than 60% of former DoCoMo customers left the carrier specifically for the iPhone.
Eiji Mori, an analyst with Tokyo-based IT research firm BCN says in order to slow the subscriber loss it is experiencing, DoCoMo will need to offer more incentives to current customers to stay with the carrier.
The firm reports that 31.9% of iPhone 5s and 5c units sold in Japan have been via DoCoMo, while 39.5% are from SoftBank and 28.6% have been sold by KDDI.