Japan's NTT DoCoMo is a new convert to the iPhone

The carrier had so far resisted offering the iPhone despite competition from Japanese carriers like SoftBank

Japan's largest mobile carrier, NTT DoCoMo is to offer new iPhone models announced by Apple on Tuesday, after resisting offering Apple's smartphones for many years.

The carrier said on Wednesday that the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c will be available on its network from Sept. 20, with preorders for the iPhone 5c at DoCoMo dealers starting Friday. Some customers can also order on the carrier's website.

NTT DoCoMo said in July that it "will always study every option keeping a close eye on the market trends," when asked about plans to offer the iPhone. The company had previously reported a strong impact from competition from the iPhone. In April, for example, it said that it struggled very hard to acquire subscribers opting for mobile number portability, particularly in the months of October and November 2012 as a result of the release of the iPhone 5. But newer phone models from other vendors, including Sony's Xperia Z, helped boost net additions, it said.

The company has over 61 million mobile customers in Japan and operates advanced networks including a nationwide 3G network and a commercial LTE network. It has been facing competition from local rivals like SoftBank which offers the iPhone.

Apple said Tuesday it will sell two distinctly different versions of the iPhone targeted at consumers in different markets. The iPhone 5S,( based on a new 64-bit microprocessor called the A7, is targeted at the high-end market, while the iPhone 5C with a colorful case aims to address the entry-level market.

Both phones will go on sale on Sept. 20 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore and the U.K. The iPhone 5C will be available for pre-order from Friday, Apple said.

"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 through NTT DoCoMo," Apple's CEO Tim Cook said in a statement.

Another large Asian carrier, China Mobile, does not as yet offer the iPhone, though Chinese regulators approved last month two iPhone models that are compatible for use on its 3G and 4G networks.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

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