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[Update: plans are abandoned following Softbank SIM lock of iPads in Japan]

The rumor has been floating for a while, but it’s finally getting serious: NTT DoCoMo will offer microSIM cards for the iPad in Japan.

The Mainichi Shimbun writes that the biggest Japanese mobile operator’s President mentioned the Apple device during the recent earning conference. The iPad being unlocked, operators are free to provide their own services, which DoCoMo is strongly considering.

There were no details on any data plans, nor any provisional schedule for the cards release.

While the device hasn’t yet hit the shores of Japan, mainly due to Apple delaying international sales after having a hard time coping with demand in the US, it has garnered headlines and big interest in the country.

SoftBank has been the sole operator carrying the iPhone since its inception on July 2008. It has helped the carrier rank high in subscription growth, slowly closing the gap with KDDI and DoCoMo. Unlike other countries, no law requires phones to be unlocked, thus leaving the iPhone in its exclusive hands, even after the end of the usual 2-year contract.

The operator has not yet finalized any microSIM rollout nor data plan for the iPad. The recent uncovering of the iPhone 4G however shows that the new SIM format will also be adopted for Apple’s handset and SoftBank, still believed to keep selling the iPhone in the short term, might hence soon announce some iPad service.

UPDATE 5/10: DoCoMo seems to have abandoned any plans to release micro-SIM cards for the iPad in Japan, following the announcement that the device will be SIM locked to Softbank’s network

Follow our complete iPad landing in Japan coverage

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