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KDDI slips in fight for Japanese market
|12 мая 2008|
KDDI, Japan’s second-largest mobile phone operator, lost subscribers last month for the first time since its creation in July 2000.
The decline of 188,700 users is likely to be a one-off due to the company ending its slower “Tu-ka” service on April 1. Its main “au” high-speed service has been adding subscribers.
In spite of the blip, KDDI is possibly the best placed of the three main operators as they begin a new financial year, an analyst said.
SoftBank, the internet and mobile phone conglomerate, has been winning customers through its low-cost pricing plans and handset range and gained an additional 192,900 subscribers in April. NTT DoCoMo, the largest mobile operator, added 96,000.
The changes left DoCoMo with about 52 per cent market share, KDDI with about 29 per cent and SoftBank with about 18 per cent.
“SoftBank will continue to make good progress and gain market share,” said Nathan Ramler, an analyst at Macquarie in Tokyo. “With DoCoMo, a combination of things is going to lead to them losing market share, and part of it is just the fact they’re the largest player. Also they’re continuing to struggle to respond to some of the changes taking place.”
“Generally, [KDDI] is the best positioned of the three, not only in terms of gaining market share but also in terms of improving the underlying financials of the business,” Mr Ramler said.
As the Japanese mobile phone market matures, the three main carriers are searching for ways to differentiate themselves and increase average revenue per user. SoftBank’s fixed-rate and discount pricing plans prompted KDDI and DoCoMo to introduce their own, less-aggressive low-cost plans.
Handset sales, which are controlled by carriers in Japan, offer another dilemma. They want to attract customers through exclusive phones with new technology, yet they need to balance that with keeping a lid on handset replacement, because they bear a certain portion of the cost of the handset instead of passing it all on to the customer.
In the past, DoCoMo and KDDI have tried to make up for that cost burden by charging more for services. However, SoftBank, with its cheaper pricing plans, has been relying on charging a little more for handsets, which is making up a significant amount of its profit at its mobile business, says Macquarie’s Mr Ramler.
Источник: Financial Times