Japanese telecoms group Softbank Corp has reported a sharp rise in operating profit for its financial year ended 31 March 2011, driven by strong demand for mobile smartphones. Softbank, which owns and operates the country’s third largest wireless player by subscribers, reported a 35.1% year-on-year rise in operating profit to JPY629.2 billion (USD7.8 billion), thanks in part to its exclusive rights to sell Apple’s iPhone and iPad device. The group’s performance compared favourably with the average forecast of operating profit of JPY612.8 billion in a Reuters’ poll of six analysts taken after the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. However the operator, which competes with NTT DoCoMo and KDDI Corp’s ‘au’ brand, has not provided an operating forecast for its current fiscal year. Analysts are predicting operating profit in the area of JPY676.7 billion. Softbank added that net profit in the full year totalled JPY189.71 billion, up from JPY96.72 billion in FY2009/10, as increased take-up and use of data services boosted average monthly ARPU.