Apple's Japan iPhone Strategy

Softbank, the No. 3 mobile operator, will sell the coveted cell phone in Japan. But its deal with Apple probably won't be exclusive

Softbank's June 4 announcement that it has signed up to sell Apple's (APPL) popular iPhone in Japan might seem like a major coup for the country's third-largest mobile operator. A new and improved iPhone, which Apple is widely expected to unveil at the Worldwide Developers' Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco next week (BusinessWeek, 5/27/08), could help Softbank narrow the gap with the two largest wireless carriers, NTT DoCoMo (DCM) and KDDI. The buzz alone should boost Softbank's brand image with consumers and its standing with software developers and Internet content creators.

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