SoftBank Adds More Japan Mobile Users Than Docomo on Rewards

SoftBank Corp., controlled by billionaire Masayoshi Son, added more new Japan mobile subscribers in March than NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp. as promotions lured users.

SoftBank added 649,500 net users last month to boost its total to 35.9 million, according to a statement from the company. That compares with 515,500 new subscribers for Docomo and 494,600 for KDDI, the carriers said in separate statements.

Competition for new subscribers in Japan is intensifying amid a declining population and after Docomo in September became the last of the carriers to begin offering Apple Inc. iPhones. Last month, Docomo Chief Financial Officer Kazuto Tsubouchi said discounts may threaten its full-year forecast as it seeks to lure subscribers from rivals.

“SoftBank has been successful with its promotion campaigns,” said Satoru Kikuchi, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “The company enhanced cash-back promotions in the first half of March, and this has boosted the number of their new users.”

SoftBank offered rewards worth of as much as 92,280 yen ($896) when new iPhone users from other carriers signed a three-year contract, according to its website.

Quarterly Data

February through early April is the biggest business season for Japanese wireless operators as parents typically buy a smartphone for children who pass entrance exams for high schools or universities.

The three carriers are shifting practice this month and will begin disclosing phone subscriber figures on a quarterly basis. The Telecommunications Carrier Association will publish the figures quarterly as the nation’s mobile-phone market matures, according to a statement on its website today.

Docomo, the largest Japanese carrier by number of subscribers with 63.1 million, added more users than rivals in December for the first time in two years. KDDI has 40.5 million, the company said today.

Japan’s population declined by 244,000 in 2013, a seventh straight year of decline and the largest drop on record, according to the Health Ministry.

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