NTT Docomo Inc., Japan’s largest mobile-phone carrier by subscribers, plans to move further into the content business to differentiate itself from rivals that offer similar pricing plans and phone models.
The wireless operator offers videos, including episodes of the Gundam anime series about giant robots, as well as music and books through its dmarket app. NTT Docomo is adding content to the service, which comes pre-installed on Apple Inc. iPhones and Android-based mobiles for subscribers.
NTT Docomo is seeking to boost revenue and profit as the population in its home market declines. The wireless carrier said in May it was on the hunt for deals worth as much ¥1 trillion ($9.6 billion) amid a search for growth overseas, a strategy on which Chief Financial Officer Hirotaka Sato declined to comment during an interview on Wednesday.
“We must differentiate ourselves with new services because fee plans, handsets and network quality are similar among the three mobile carriers,” Sato said at the company’s Tokyo headquarters. “We would like to gain new customers through services such as video and music.”
Rival carrier SoftBank Corp. bought Sprint Corp. for $22 billion last year and may pursue music or entertainment companies to bolster its global technology empire. KDDI Corp. said this month it will invest $270 million to build two data centers in Japan to tap growing demand from smartphone users for cloud storage.
New additions available on NTT Docomo’s content store include music from the American pop rock band Maroon 5 and songs from the British duo Royal Blood.
NTT Docomo added 461,000 new customers in the three months to June, which is more than five times the pace of a year earlier, and in June the company began offering lower-priced plans. KDDI is the second-largest wireless operator in Japan by users followed by SoftBank, according to the country’s Telecommunications Carriers Association.
A new, bigger-screen Apple iPhone scheduled to be introduced next month may further boost revenue for NTT Docomo because the carrier is able to sell music and videos through its content store, according to Sato.
“Dmarket business can be conducted on the iPhone and on Android handsets,” Sato said. “It is positive for our revenue.”
NTT Docomo aims to bring annual operating profit back to the ¥900 billion level as early as possible, Sato said in the interview, without providing more details. The company’s operating profit target this fiscal year is ¥750 billion.
Apple is preparing to introduce iPhones with bigger screens at an event on Sept. 9, a person familiar with the plans said. The Cupertino, California-based company is set to introduce two new models: one with a 4.7-inch screen, and another with a 5.5-inch screen, people with knowledge of the plans have said.
NTT Docomo was the last of Japan’s three wireless operators to offer Apple iPhones starting last September.
Sato took over as CFO in June from Kazuto Tsubouchi.
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