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iMode - Future of 3G?

November 2000
By Daniel Cheung

i-mode is the biggest success story of the wireless Internet industry to date.  Today there are 12.6 million i-mode users in Japan. Have we got your attention yet?  Here's where we tell all about i-mode...

What is I-mode?

I-mode is a mobile phone Internet service launched in Japan in February 1999 by NTT DoCoMo.  It has taken Japan by storm, and is one of the world's most successful services offering wireless web browsing and e-mail from mobile phones.  Using i-mode phones, users can use their handsets to access various information services and communicate via email.

In Japan, as expected, i-mode is most popular among young users, 24 to 35 years of age. Interestingly, the heaviest users of i-mode are women in their late 20s. As of October 2000, i-mode has an estimated 12.6 million users.

One thing that sets i-mode apart from other wireless services (such as WAP) is that you do not pay for the time you are connected to a website or service, but are charged only according to the volume of data transmitted.  This is certainly encouraging news to people using WAP services in Australia, where they pay for the time they are connected to the web site. {pic}

Unfortunately, i-mode is only restricted to Japan.


How fast is i-mode?

I-mode phones transmit data at a speed of 9600 bps. Although this sounds slow compared to ordinary 56kps computer modems, it is actually quite satisfactory for i-mode, since each email is limited to only 500 bytes and most i-modes sites are relatively lightweight (i.e., made up mostly of text data with very few graphics, averaging about 1.2K in size). Downloading email and i-mode pages usually takes only a few seconds.  And remember, the cost of downloading is calculated according to the amount actually downloaded, not the connection time - so a slow connection would not make your transaction break your bank.

Buyer Guide

Buyer Guide

Much time has passed since our original megapixel camera phone comparison article of late 2004, and manufacturers have had the opportunity to improve the...
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