Japan’s third largest wireless carrier by subscribers, Softbank Corp-backed Softbank Mobile, added 204,800 net new users in June to end the month with 16.4 million customers, largely thanks to its focus on offering cheaper service plans. The company’s wealthy CEO Masayoshi Son has reportedly traded off Softbank’s profit margin against subscriber acquisition costs to expand its mobile user base in Japan’s nearly JPY9 trillion (USD72 billion) wireless market. As part of its plans to play catch-up with DoCoMo and KDDI, the operator has introduced a monthly call plan costing just JPY980 (USD7.99). Bloomberg notes that Softbank Mobile is enticing niche customers such as older people, the youth segment and those who need a second, cheaper contract, although local industry watchers are concerned that such a strategy might not provide the economic returns that Softbank is looking for, not least because these customers place fewer actual calls.
Second placed KDDI Corp gained a net 207,700 mobile phone users in June to end the month with 28.11 million users, including 27.56 million CDMA 1x users (+222,000). By contrast, market leader DoCoMo added only 88,800 net new subscribers in the period, to lift its total to 52.8 million. Meanwhile PHS operator Willcom gained 22,000 customers in June and had 4.65 million subscribers at the start of this month.