The April subscriber numbers are public and the news is mixed, at best, for Big V. Vodafone KK suffered a loss of 180,800 2G subscribers but only gained 141,300 3G users, for a net loss of 39,500 subs. This has got to be disappointing given that the March’s loss had fallen to a mere 7,400 and company management were likely hoping April would see a turnaround with the net change moving into the black.
The good news is that Vodafone tipped over the 1-million mark for 3G users, growing from 917,200 to 1,058,500.
An oft-repeated shibboleth amongst 3G pundits has been that 1 million 3G users represents the tipping point after which growth will start increasing exponentially; there’s certainly evidence to support this view in DoCoMo’s case. They reached the 1-million point in October 2003 and never looked back. Will the same happen for Vodafone?
There’s no predicting the future, of course, but with recent announcements of flat-rate voice plans, mobile FeliCa and a little juice from Symbian (the carrier now offers Symbian apps for the Nokia 702NK from Taito, Creek & River and Access), 3G just may start gaining traction amongst Vodafone users.
Predictable, NTT DoCoMo and KDDI/au had no problems in April.
KDDI added 313,400 1X and 1X EV-DO users for a total of 18,248,400 while DoCoMo added 739,200 FOMA users for a total of 12,239,900.
DoCoMo has now decisively stolen the market share increase lead from KDDI and it appears that FOMA will surpass 1X and WIN users within the next 12 months, depending on how the rates of monthly growth vary. Specifically, it will be July 2006 at the current rates, but I expect FOMA growth to increase, allowing DoCoMo to take the No. 1 spot sooner. Check-out the TCA site for full details.
– Daniel Scuka