NTT Docomo, largest Japanese mobile operator, intends to invest about Y880 billion ($11.4 billion) to launch its next-generation 4G long term evolution (LTE) network and compatible smartphones.
First mobile phones may be launched this winter, but the whole investment is scheduled up to fiscal year 2015, NTT’s officials said. The company hopes to attract 30 million users towards its new LTE services and to sell about 40 million compatible smartphones by fiscal year 2015.
NTT Docomo’s two main rivals, Softbank and KDDI, offer their clients Apple’s star product, the iPhone. Docomo’s chief executive and president Ryuji Yamada said that his company “had not given up hope” of selling the iPhone to its customers too, but obstacles still had to be overcome, like Apple’s insistence that operators commit to certain sales volumes.
One other problem is that Docomo would like some of its proprietary applications, like the electronic wallet and the i-mode e-mail service, to be installed on the iPhone, while Apple’s star product features a closed operating system which does not allow that.