UPDATE 2-NTT DoCoMo to sell iPhone in Apple stronghold Japan-sources

Fri Sep 6, 2013 4:56am EDT
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* DoCoMo could start sales as early as autumn - sources

* iPhone is best-selling smartphone in Japan

* NTT DoCoMo was losing market share as iPhone holdout

* Shares in rivals Softbank, KDDI ease; DoCoMo gains

By Sophie Knight

TOKYO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest mobile carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc is expected to start selling iPhones as soon as autumn, helping Apple Inc extend its reach in a country where it has more than three times the market share of rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

DoCoMo has long resisted offering the iPhone to its 60 million customers due to differences with Apple over branding and sales margins, but has lost market share to smaller rivals Softbank Corp and KDDI Corp, which have been selling Japan's best-selling smartphone since 2008 and 2011, respectively.

DoCoMo is expected to begin selling the iPhone as early as this autumn, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

The sources, who declined to be named due to the confidentiality of the discussions, did not detail the conditions of the agreement.   Continued...