US IPhone UPDATE1
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) CUPERTINO, California, Sept. 10 -- (Kyodo) _ (EDS: ADDING MORE INFO)
Apple Inc. said on Tuesday that NTT Docomo Inc. will start to sell the iPhone in Japan on Sept. 20 and announced two new iPhones, including a lower-cost model.
"We've enjoyed tremendous success with iPhone in Japan, in fact it's the top selling smartphone in the country and we look forward to delivering iPhone into even more customers' hands on Docomo's high-quality network," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release, adding that the network is the largest in Japan with 60 million customers.
Apple unveiled the premium iPhone 5s, which has a faster A7 chip and a fingerprint-identifying security system that can unlock the phone and allow purchases on the company's online stores. It will come in three colors -- gold, silver and "space gray."
The less-expensive iPhone 5c will be available in five colors -- blue, green, pink, yellow, black and white, with pre-orders starting from Sept. 13.
Both models will start selling on Sept. 20 in 11 markets, including China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Apple has lagged behind South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co., which markets Galaxy handset series, in the global smartphone market. The U.S. tech giant is apparently looking to expand sales in fast-growing emerging markets by introducing cheaper models, and strengthen its footing in Japan by joining hands with Docomo.
The iPhone, first introduced in Japan by Softbank Mobile Corp. in July 2008, has established the leading position in the country's smartphone market. Rival KDDI Corp., the "au" network operator, also started selling the handset in October 2011.
Docomo has been consistently losing its market share to its competitors with the Apple smarphones in their lineups.
"We're thrilled to offer the incredible new iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c to our customers," President Kaoru Kato said in a statement.
Docomo's move will further fuel the three-way battle including Softbank and KDDI in the Japanese market, while it will likely deal a blow to Japanese smartphone manufacturers such as Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd. and Sharp Corp.
In the United States, the iPhone 5s will be offered at retail prices ranging between $99 and $399, and the iPhone 5c between $99 and $199, with contracts. In Japan, prices have yet to be announced.
(c) 2013 Kyodo News International, Inc.
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