The iPhone may be Japan's most popular smartphone, and NTT Docomo may be the nation's biggest carrier, but what would seem like a match made in heaven is unlikely to come to pass any time soon. That's the takeaway from comments made by Docomo president Ryuji Yamada yesterday, who expressed preference for Android devices due to the open nature of the platform. At yesterday's event announcing the company's summer lineup, Yamada told a crowd of reporters that it would be 'difficult' for Docomo to provide the same experience to iPhone customers because of Apple's strict regulations. The number two and three carriers in Japan, au / KDDI and SoftBank, both sell the iPhone in addition to Android devices.
Docomo announced 16 new smartphones yesterday, all running Android 4.0 and loaded with many of the carrier's exclusive network services. Yamada gave the example of Shabette Concier, the carrier's proprietary voice control system said to be better than Siri (in Japanese, at least), and said that Docomo values the ability to put it on devices from Samsung's Galaxy series to Sony's Xperia handsets. The carrier's summer lineup certainly is diverse, including fairly traditional models like the Sony Xperia SX and Panasonic Eluga V, high-end Aquos Phones from Sharp, and curios such as the elderly-focused Raku Raku Smartphone F12-D and limited JoJo's Bizarre Adventure edition of the LG Optimus Vu.
It's possible that Windows Phone could form part of Docomo's winter lineup
When asked about the prospect of Windows Phone, Yamada said that while there aren't any plans for now, it's possible that Microsoft's OS could form part of Docomo's lineup in winter or next year. Windows Phone is essentially a non-entity in Japan, with only last year's Fujitsu Toshiba IS12t released so far. It would seem that Yamada's comments about preferring an "open platform" go as far as the possibility of negotiating with platform owners and hardware manufacturers over pre-installed software — perhaps he sees potential in devices such as the Lumia 710, which comes loaded with apps from both T-Mobile and Nokia in the US. For now, though, Docomo seems intent on bringing Android 4.0, along with its own services, to as many customers as possible.