Only last month we learned that Apple was talking to China Mobile about offering the iPhone in China. Now, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has also held discussions with two Japanese mobile operators to bring the Apple iPhone to Japan. Steve Jobs met Masao Nakamura, the president of NTT DoCoMo Inc., the largest Japanese operator, and Apple executives have also met with Softbank Corp., the third largest operator.
While an agreement is still being worked out, it should come as no big surprise that Apple’s demand to receive a portion of subscriber revenue is a sticking point in the negotiations. But the Wall Street Journal indicates that a person familiar with the situation says Apple doesn’t expect to have any difficulty concluding a deal with a Japanese operator.
Japan has nearly 100 million mobile-phone subscribers and landing a deal to offer the iPhone in Japan would give Apple a tremendous boost in reaching its 2008 goal of selling 10 million iPhones. But there is a catch: The NTT DoCoMo network does not run on GSM/EDGE. Instead, Apple would need to release a UMTS/HSDPA version of the iPhone. Did someone not say recently that the 3G iPhone was coming in 2008?