DoCoMo knocks Softbank off top spot – finally

7 Aug 2009

Japan’s leading mobile operator by subscribers NTT DoCoMo added more users than Softbank Mobile last month, the first time Softbank Corp’s wireless arm has been knocked off the top perch in more than two years. DoCoMo added a net 143,600 subscribers in July, eclipsing Softbank’s total of 137,600, according to statements released by each operator today. Meanwhile, the country’s second largest operator KDDI added a net 56,000 new users for a total of 31 million as at 31 July 2009. At the same date DoCoMo had 55 million customers and Softbank 21.1 million.

In May this year the NTT division cut its minimum data charges to JPY490 (USD5.14) per month and revealed further plans to drop this again to JPY390 starting 1 August, as it looks to up data usage to offset falling voice traffic. Although the lower tariff charges are expected to reduce full year operating profits by JPY40 billion in FY2009/10, a spokesperson for DoCoMo is quoted as saying: ‘The release of our summer models and lowering the minimum charge for data transmission contributed to boosting our sales.’ DoCoMo revealed that net income attributable to the company fell 15.1% year-on-year to JPY147.4 billion (USD1.6 billion) in its fiscal first quarter ended 30 June 2009. Sales were also down, from JPY1.17 trillion to JPY1.08 trillion, while operating income came in at JPY251.8 billion, a 15% decline from last year. The cellco cited Japan’s maturing wireless market and intensifying competition as reasons behind the falls. DoCoMo did, however, leave its forecast for the year ending March 2010 unchanged: revenue is expected to reach JPY4.38 trillion with operating income of JPY830 billion.