DoCoMo To Bring i-Mode To The US In 2002

from the it's-about-time dept

It was more a question of “when” that “if”, but DoCoMo has now announced that they plan to bring i-mode service to the US in 2002 via (of course) AT&T Wireless (who they own a stake in). Those of you in Europe are a bit luckier in that they should be offering i-mode phones by September of this year. My question is whether or not i-mode phones will still be the hot item or if someone else will have figured out a better system by that time.

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Comments on “DoCoMo To Bring i-Mode To The US In 2002”

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1 Comment
Anonymous Coward says:

what people fail to realize...

…is that iMode was born out of the complete failure that PHS voice service turned out to be.
PHS (personal handy system… or some such garbled use of English by Japanese marktoids)
is based around a micro-wave (fairly line of sight) micro-cell system, with pole mounted cells
having about .5 km of “reach”, or about 1 building’s floor if deployed indoors. Unfortunatly, the
PHS vendors spent big bucks deploying a system that was poor at carrying voice cheaply and
good at carrying high-speed data (32kbps to 64kbps) expensively. So, DoCoMo decided to
scrap the voice carrying features of PHS and use it to carry metered data. This is acceptable
in Japan because they have caller pays and all data transfer is effectively metered. That
combined with the fact that there is a lower level of home computer ownership in Japan (~20%
whenst I was last there) allowed iMode to become the default method by which many Japanese
will experience the Internet for the first time.

It remains to be seen if LMDS, MMDS, CDPD, GPRS or UTMS can re-create the same data
carrying capabilities that the massive, micro-cellular deployments of PHS access points has
apparently achived in Japan. There’s also one other little nasty secret that Japan Inc. is not
telling the rest of the world: iMode will have to continue growing for many, many years to
pay off the debts incurred deploying PHS. Furthermore, I seriously doubt American consumers
will be willing to pay for metered data service, just look at AT&T’s own super-failure CDPD
data services.

Personally, I think hand-held web browsers suck and until someone developes a resonable
high-res head mounted display, I’ll go with supper small voice carrying products (cell phones)
and slightly larger data carrying products (richochet net), thank you very much

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