NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile operator, will select Sony, Sharp and Fujitsu smartphone models for its main winter product line-up, sources said.
Samsung Electronics, which along with Sony supplied one of the two models for the main summer range, would be excluded as it lacked a new flagship model for the winter, and after its Galaxy S4 fell short of DoCoMo's summer target despite strong sales for Sony's Xperia A, the sources said.
The move could be a major boon for Sharp, Japan's largest display maker and an Apple supplier that was bailed out by its banks last year and is expected to issue new shares this year to shore up its weakened finances.
Representatives for DoCoMo, Sony, Sharp and Fujitsu declined to comment. No comment was available from Samsung.
Details of DoCoMo's winter promotion had yet to be worked out, the sources said. It is expected to be similar to the summer programme in which the carrier offered discounts on only two handset models.
Sony profited handsomely from the campaign. A jump in smartphone sales helped to power its electronics division to a profit in the past quarter for the first time in two years.
Samsung's relatively expensive Galaxy S4, however, fared poorly - especially against the home-turf Sony brand - in a promotion aimed at luring users to smartphones. Samsung has sold fewer than 700,000 phones in the campaign, short of the one million target and 1.3 million for Sony's Xperia A - DoCoMo's fastest-selling handset ever.
The sources said that while DoCoMo would not include Samsung's Galaxy series in its smartphone promotion for this winter, it would continue offering the company's products.
DoCoMo's new strategy to limit its discounts and promotions to a few brands has helped to speed up the consolidation of Japan's handset sector.