DoCoMo users hit 60 million, half Japan's population

Japan's largest mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo notched a milestone this week as its subscriber base hit nearly half the country's population.

Do you DoCoMo? Commuters are usually glued to their smartphones on Tokyo's subways. Tim Hornyak/CNET

TOKYO--Though its growth has slowed significantly in recent years, DoCoMo managed to get more than 60 million Japanese to sign up for contracts as of last Sunday.

That's nearly half Japan's population of 127 million. The figure includes subscribers to DoCoMo's LTE, 3G, and 2G mobile services.

DoCoMo's high growth period in the late 1990s saw it increasing by 10 million users in only 18 months. But recent years have proven more challenging for the phone giant.

It took more than six years to expand from 50 million subscribers to 60 million, reflecting market saturation. Total mobile subscribers in Japan number some 122 million.

The subscriber base of DoCoMo, which has focused on Android phones, is roughly double that of both rival networks Softbank and KDDI, which offer increasingly popular iPhone models.

Led by the iPhone 4S, Apple smartphones for the first time grabbed the largest share of mobile phone shipments in the last quarter of 2011, at 26.6 percent. DoCoMo is focusing on its high-speed Xi service and tablets to fend off the competition.

"Going forward, DoCoMo will continue to strengthen its industry-leading customer satisfaction ratings with increasingly enhanced mobile products focused on smartphones and advanced mobile services," the company said in a statement.

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