Softbank First-Half Profit up 9 Pct to $940 Mil

iPhone Pushes Earnings for Japanese Carrier

TOKYO -- Softbank Corp., the only Japanese mobile carrier offering the iPhone, said first-half earnings rose 9%, driven by its booming smart phone business.

The Tokyo-based Internet and communications conglomerate said Thursday that net profit for April through September totaled 76.8 billion yen ($940 million) compared with 70.8 billion yen a year earlier.

Sales rose to 1.47 trillion yen ($17.9 billion) from 1.35 trillion yen.

Softbank's strong iPhone sales continued, CEO Masayoshi Son said.

The company's mainstay mobile business, which includes smart phones, added 901,000 subscribers during the six months. That contributed to a nearly 40% increase in operating profit, seen as an indicator of actual business performance.

Son said the iPhone, which went on sale in Japan in 2008, now has a dominant place in the Japanese smart phone market with an 80% share. Apple's tablet computer, the iPad, was also selling strongly.

Smart phones and smart pads could help the company achieve its goal of nearly doubling its customers to 40 million within the next decade, Son said.

"Smart phones and smart pads will be the mainstream of our lifestyle," he said. "Smart phones will take over conventional mobile phones, and Softbank is ahead of the trend."

Operating profit from the mobile unit climbed 57% to 75 billion yen ($918 million).

Son said Softbank is also preparing for handsets using Google's "Android" operating system to challenge competitors NTT DoCoMo and KDDI who have lost out to the iPhone.

Before results were announced, Softbank shares closed down 0.9% to 2,645 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.