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DoCoMo blames limited stock of Apple's iPhones for worst-ever subscriber loss

post #1 of 43
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Japan's NTT DoCoMo suffered the worst month of customer attrition in the company's history in September, placing blame in part on constrained supplies of Apple's new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

iPhone 5s


Despite finally becoming an Apple carrier partner for the iPhone, more than 66,000 customers left NTT's DoCoMo mobile telecommunications unit in September, the company said Monday in an e-mail reported by Bloomberg. In contrast, competitors SoftBank and KDDI reported subscriber gains of 270,700 and 232,700, respectively, over the same period.

The popularity of Apple's newly-released iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c in Japan has proven to be bittersweet for DoCoMo. While sales were brisk, internal data suggests many of the customers who jumped ship in September were waiting for the new iPhones, and simply moved on to a different carrier after DoCoMo exhausted their launch supply of the devices.

Executives had hoped that stocking Apple's iPhone line would help stem subscriber losses at the carrier, Japan's largest, which counts nearly half of the Japanese population as customers. Studies showed that more than 60 percent of former DoCoMo subscribers left specifically for Cupertino's popular handset.

If DoCoMo wants to put the brakes on its accelerating churn rate, it "must offer more incentives for existing users to remain with the carrier," said Eiji Mori, an analyst with Tokyo-based IT research firm BCN. 31.9 percent of iPhone 5s and 5c units sold in Japan so far have been DoCoMo devices, with 39.5 percent from SoftBank and 28.6 percent from KDDI, according to the firm.
post #2 of 43

Nice try Domo.  Like blaming the ground for being in the way after you drove your car off a cliff.

post #3 of 43

This is what happens when you stupidly pass on the iPhone for years! Idiots!

 

They're lucky to have 66,000 subscribers to lose! 

post #4 of 43

But..but..according to analysts channel stuffing was the reason for the 9m numbers and many of those iPhones sold are sitting in mobile carrier store shelves collecting dust.:D 

post #5 of 43

That's funny, because it just demonstrates your customers are not with you because of the service you gave them, but rather the device you failed to offer. I think this illustrates you have much bigger issues with your organization than just not having enough iPhone's to meet demand.

post #6 of 43

If you were bleeding customers before, why do you think all of a sudden people are going to just fly right back to you? Seems like this is a case of blaming someone else for your shortfall. If I were a shareholder, I wouldn't buy this BS excuse. They were banking too much on Apple to cover their ass. 

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post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Singlecore View Post

But..but..according to analysts channel stuffing was the reason for the 9m numbers and many of those iPhones sold are sitting in mobile carrier store shelves collecting dust.1biggrin.gif  
The media will conveniently ignore that argument when it suits their agenda.
post #8 of 43

Blah blah.

 

What about the next 3 months and the holiday quarter? How many subscribers might they gain back because of the iPhone? Stupid to whine about changes over such a short period.

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post #9 of 43
Where did you get your information singlecore? I doubt it. My country's iPhone 5S are out of stock as well at all 3 mobile phone carriers. Usually when there's stock, the stores are always packed within the first 2 months of iPhone launch.

Apple has to take some of the blame.
post #10 of 43

So they were looking for Apple to save their month in the last 10 days that the Iphone was actually available to buy. Yeah those people were leaving anyway, I bet they went across the street to their competitor and got the Iphone there.

post #11 of 43

In other news, Apple has ripped up its contract with DoCoMo, citing the suicidal stupidity clause.

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post #12 of 43

The reason for short supply is one word- Demand.

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post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Japan's NTT DoCoMo suffered the worst month of customer attrition in the company's history in September, placing blame in part on constrained supplies of Apple's new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.

But wouldn't the constraints affect everyone?

Unless you waited until the day before launch to order them.
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post #14 of 43
If each of the compa
post #15 of 43
If each of the companies mentioned in this article got the same number of iPhones (just a wild guess), I'm puzzled how this shift in subscribers could have anything to do with the iPhone. Why doesn't the article explain how many phones each company got?
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


But wouldn't the constraints affect everyone?

Unless you waited until the day before launch to order them.

 

That's exactly what I was thinking when I read this article.

 

While it's probably not true that all the carriers got the same number of units, we do know they are all experiencing the same supply constraints.  All carriers are having difficulty obtaining the iPhone 5S, which means that's not the reason someone would jump ship.

post #17 of 43

If all carriers were constrained, and they were, then these people did not leave because of Apple as they could not go anywhere else for the iPhone. 

post #18 of 43

Pretty wild.  iPhone share is on a steady march to 55-60% share  in Japan 

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post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post
 

This is what happens when you stupidly pass on the iPhone for years! Idiots!

 

They're lucky to have 66,000 subscribers to lose! 

 

Exactly.

 

They mistakenly believed that Apple would cave and allow them to install whatever they wanted on the iPhone. So instead of just taking the deal (like everyone else) they just sat back and watched their customers leave.

post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by just1ed@gmail.com View Post

Where did you get your information singlecore? I doubt it. My country's iPhone 5S are out of stock as well at all 3 mobile phone carriers. Usually when there's stock, the stores are always packed within the first 2 months of iPhone launch.

Apple has to take some of the blame.

Comments directed towards analysts who were questioning (completely way off base) Apple's published weekend sales of 9 million. Go check Gene Munster's published comments on Apple's weekend sales numbers and why he other analysts are way off... 

post #21 of 43

I think he was making fun of analysts and their explanation on why they were so wrong in their estimates of iphone sales the first weekend.

post #22 of 43
Hmm something tells me that the other boys didn't have iPhones either, strongly suggesting that a huge group of folks were ready to jump anyway and it was only the iPhone that kept a few around

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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


But wouldn't the constraints affect everyone?

Unless you waited until the day before launch to order them.

 

Good pt. Did NTT D get a smaller share of iPhones than Softbank?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

Hmm something tells me that the other boys didn't have iPhones either, strongly suggesting that a huge group of folks were ready to jump anyway and it was only the iPhone that kept a few around

But then, what phone did they get when they jumped? Or are they contentedly waiting?

post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by just1ed@gmail.com View Post

Where did you get your information singlecore? I doubt it. My country's iPhone 5S are out of stock as well at all 3 mobile phone carriers. Usually when there's stock, the stores are always packed within the first 2 months of iPhone launch.

Apple has to take some of the blame.

Nope not one bit of it.

A tech savvy country like Japan would be full of folks that would know that launch supplies on new iPhones are always an issue. So they would be aware that there could be a wait. No matter how many carriers have it. Everyone is basically out.

They left because the iPhone wasn't enough to make staying with that carrier worth it.

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post #25 of 43
Apple now has the power in Japan's smart phone market. Not docomo. From here on out apple will be making the decisions, not the carriers. Is it apple a terrible company for not having enough to meet the demand? Well, it's not like they're the only technology company to ever have this problem, video game consoles and others have this issue from time to time. It's not the end of the world. It might even be good for Apples image to have some sell out weeks. But the main issue that docomo should realize is that their own customers would rather leave their company than wait two weeks for a new phone. That shows a low loyalty rate, and that their customers were probably not too excited to stick around.
post #26 of 43
If I'm Apple I would give more phones to the other companies anyway just to reward their loyalty for being the first with Apple.
post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehawk View Post

If I'm Apple I would give more phones to the other companies anyway just to reward their loyalty for being the first with Apple.

I don't know what the laws are like in Japan, and I'm not even sure what the laws would say on the matter in the U.S., but I'd be very, very careful before using aupply as a weapon. Even if it's legal, when your customers see that you are willing to beat them up like that, it interferes with long term loyalty.
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post #28 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by just1ed@gmail.com View Post

Where did you get your information singlecore? I doubt it. My country's iPhone 5S are out of stock as well at all 3 mobile phone carriers. Usually when there's stock, the stores are always packed within the first 2 months of iPhone launch.

Apple has to take some of the blame.

Blame? Can't you buy an iPhone in an Apple Store for any carrier in the country?
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehawk View Post

If I'm Apple I would give more phones to the other companies anyway just to reward their loyalty for being the first with Apple.

Hogwash. Apple is a business, not a charity. In addition you can buy iPhones at the Apple Store for any carrier (I believe) in the country.
post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I don't know what the laws are like in Japan, and I'm not even sure what the laws would say on the matter in the U.S., but I'd be very, very careful before using aupply as a weapon. Even if it's legal, when your customers see that you are willing to beat them up like that, it interferes with long term loyalty.

Times have sure changed. Back in the 80's and 90's we dealers that shifted lots of Apple boxes got all sorts of priorities ... product supply in times of shortage, new products first, support folks from Apple when needed, marketing dollars etc.. Plus some pretty awesome trips for the CEOs. I went on the Orient Express, had box seats at the start /finish line at the San Marino Grand Prix ... a trip to visit Apple HQ in Cupertino (from London) .. to name but a few ... all on Apple's dime .. all for shifting more boxes than rival dealers. That's kind of a loyalty payback I'd say.
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post #31 of 43
Bad news for DoCoMo brings me so much joy!

Their proprietary network (i-Mode/SP-Mode) is unnecessary and irrelevant in a world of multiple carriers. It reminds me of AOL and their closed network. DoCoMo's insistence that Apple pre-load SP-Mode was one of the major points that delayed the rollout of the iPhone.

Back when I was an international student in Japan in '01, DoCoMo made it nearly impossible for foreigners to get a cell phone. I ended up going with J-Phone (now Softbank).Then, when I worked in Japan ('03 to '06) they were still not very foreigner friendly.

For years, DoCoMo had the power to force its will on the market and the company's arrogance is finally leading to its unraveling.

I look forward to DoCoMo's slow drift into obscurity. This is gonna be fun!
post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Times have sure changed. Back in the 80's and 90's we dealers that shifted lots of Apple boxes got all sorts of priorities ... product supply in times of shortage, new products first, support folks from Apple when needed, marketing dollars etc.. Plus some pretty awesome trips for the CEOs. I went on the Orient Express, had box seats at the start /finish line at the San Marino Grand Prix ... a trip to visit Apple HQ in Cupertino (from London) .. to name but a few ... all on Apple's dime .. all for shifting more boxes than rival dealers. That's kind of a loyalty payback I'd say.


There are two differences:

1. Giving a loyalty reward on top of normal business arrangements is one thing. What was proposed was actually penalizing someone that you didn't like. There's a difference.

2. Loyalty programs are perfectly legal and are legitimate business practices. But they need to be spelled out in advance. Simply hitting someone after the fact and saying you're punishing them for saying something you don't like is a very different matter. It would be a horrible PR move.

If Apple wants to reward loyal customers, they can do that in the contract negotiation stage - not afterwards. Or, they can publicly state "here is our loyalty reward program and here's what you have to do to move up to the next level." Either of those is OK. Punishing DoCoMo after the fact because they shoot off their mouth would not be.
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post #33 of 43
Why blame Apple? They were late to iPhone, nobody to blame but themselves, china mobile hopefully learns from Docomo. If they still had no iPhones, the loss would be MORE than 66k people!!!!! Dug!
post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Applehawk View Post

If I'm Apple I would give more phones to the other companies anyway just to reward their loyalty for being the first with Apple.

 

Spite it a horrible business strategy.  Extracting some vengeance as a bonus is fine, but never as your intent.

 

Thompson

post #35 of 43
As with T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon, they have to sign up for a large amount to insure enough stock. I've not heard whether DoCoMo did this in sufficient numbers, but wouldn't be surprise to hear they were too timid to buy enough -- if so, they deserve to lose customers - plain and simple.
post #36 of 43

I have lived in Japan for 30 years and worked in mobile for 20 of those.

DoCoMo needs some iPhone service differentiation from SB and au.

As a first step in stemming the hemorrhage, it could offer subscribers the chance to unlock an iPhone free-of-charge after 2 months on contract (like many Eu carriers). Neither SB (a dreadful company) nor au offer unlocking even after an iPhone goes out of contract after 2 years.

Second, DoCoMo could advertise its far far superior network/cell coverage compared to SB, which is semi-ok in cities and beyond awful in the countryside. As an example, the SB signal in my home less than 8 km from central Tokyo  is –118 dB (practically non-existent where –120 dB is no signal). Outside the cities, SB iPhones are mostly a brick.

DoCoMo's key problem is that it is perceived by the younger generation as an old-fashioned company good for the era of Mom and Pop landlines but not for modern mobile and cloud services. This image might be undeserved but the company did itself no favors with plain butt-headed stupidity in the face of SB/Apple's iPhone marketing moves over the last 4 years.

As an aside, there is no shortage of 5s and 5c units here—I could walk into any DoCoMo shop and walk out with one in 10 minutes, and I would if they offered unlocking.

post #37 of 43

Here's an idea... docomo can stock up and offer fones from Sammy with B-I-G screens and the Android, for the happiness life of their distinguishing users.  Because everyone knows Apple phones have too smaller screens and a knockoff OS.  Right?

 

/s

post #38 of 43
Doesn't DoCoMo have a ton of Samsung devices to offer? They could have given out Samsung Gear smartwatches to keep those customers.
post #39 of 43
There are three main companies in Japan. Softbank, which has been updating its infrastructure and staff non-stop for ten years. AU, which has begun updating part of its infrastructure and finally got iPhones last year. Reception on 3G is good, but nothing as good as Softbank.

And then there's Docomo. They last updated their staff, infrastructure and products in the mid-90's, which is when they accumulated their customers. They are to AU as AU is to Softbank. In the middle of Osaka, LTE signal strength is minimal. Walking into a Docomo shop is like walking into a throwback room with condescending yet ignorant staff and the ugliest choice of displays and products you can find. Even Willcom does better!

This pervasive attitude of superiority toward both mobile device companies and its own customers is what prevented Apple from shipping through Docomo: the Big D demands putting their large and ugly logo all over and throughout every handset they sell. Apple ought to site insanity and rip up that contract! Telling customers that slow connection speeds are better...
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bao D Nguyen View Post

Doesn't DoCoMo have a ton of Samsung devices to offer? They could have given out Samsung Gear smartwatches to keep those customers.

 

joking aside...this illustrates that apple should rethink their launch strategy to fewer countries and concentrate on first meeting that demand..based on the iphone checker - there is 0 supply of the 5s in NYC

http://iphone-check.herokuapp.com/?zip=10001&color=grey&provider=att

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