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In a major overseas victory for Apple, NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest wireless carrier, will at last start carrying the iPhone. According to AppleInsider, the news first broke on Yahoo! Japan, along with a notice that DoCoMo customers should see the phone sometime this fall.
It's worth speculating if this news is related to the earlier discovery that the iPhone 5S would most likely launch in Japan on September 20, which many outlets have taken to mean the date it'll also be released to the rest of the world. DoCoMo's customer based numbers around 60 million--or, in other words, around half of the entire population of Japan.
In past years executives at the carrier argued that they didn't need the iPhone, but by last year they were claiming that the absence of an iPhone offering had resulted in a noticeable loss in sales. The key issue preventing the carrier's adoption of the device was apparently their desire to install software of their own on the iPhones they sell, but Apple's refusal to allow such intrusions kept them from taking on the beloved smartphone for years.
The big question is whether Apple finally caved and let DoCoMo install its apps on the phone, or whether DoCoMo realized that not carrying the phone simply constituted too great a loss. At present, that's a question we simply don't know the answer to.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.