NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, reported that its nine-month profit for the period ending 31 December 2007 dipped 6.7% year-on-year as it added fewer customers than either of its smaller rivals, KDDI and Softbank Mobile. DoCoMo said its net income fell to JPY376.5 billion (USD3.5 billion) in the nine months under review, down from JPY403.7 billion a year. Sales revenue declined 2.1% to JPY3.52 trillion in the same period, while nine-month operating profit fell 7.7% to JPY625 billion. DoCoMo spent most of last year fighting a rearguard action against both KDDI and Softbank, without much success. Softbank Mobile made it eight months in a row in December 2007, as it again won more new subscribers than either of its larger rivals, recording 210,800 net additions, compared with 138,600 for KDDI’s ‘au’ and ‘TU-KA’ brands, and 121,500 for the NTT unit. At the start of this year, DoCoMo had 53.15 million customers, ahead of KDDI with 29.55 million and Softbank Mobile with 17.40 million.
DoCoMo is hoping to fight back through the November 2007 launch of a new range of handsets, but the smaller operators unveiled new mobile phones of their own yesterday, making it likely that DoCoMo faces another tough year ahead. Reuters quotes Nomura Securities Co analyst Daisaku Masuno as saying: ‘The focus is on how fast DoCoMo’s handset models, introduced in November, gain popularity.’