The Japanese paper says DoCoMo (DCM +1.1%) is likely to announce a partnership with Apple (AAPL -0.8%) on the day of its iPhone launch. Apple has announced an iPhone satellite event will take place in Tokyo (along with ones in Beijing and Berlin) hours after its main Sep. 10 event in Cupertino.
A DoCoMo EVP suggested last month a deal could be close. Previous talks between Apple and DoCoMo reportedly faltered due to Apple's purchase requirements and DoCoMo's insistence on pre-installing some of its apps.
DoCoMo, by far Japan's largest carrier (60M+ subs, 1/4 of which are now using 4G phones), has been losing share to SoftBank (SFTBF.PK) and KDDI in large part due to its failure to carry the iPhone. Though DoCoMo's sub base is much smaller than China Mobile's 740M, a much larger portion of it can afford a $450+ (unsubsidized) phone.
Japan is the iPhone's strongest major international market. Thanks largely to iPhone sales, Apple's Japanese revenue rose 27% Y/Y in FQ3 to $2.5B, even as revenue fell 14% in Greater China and 18% in the rest of Asia-Pac.
Update:Bloomberg reports Apple is "near a final agreement" with DoCoMo, and that the carrier "may begin offering the iPhone later this year."