DoCoMo Control Hamstrings Australian i-mode

When Australian operator Telstra linked up with NTT DoCoMo to offer i-mode, it almost sounded like the company saw it as a magic remedy to start generating big bucks from mobile content. But reports out of the country 9 months later say Telstra is struggling to grow its i-mode business — and blames DoCoMo’s micromanagement for the woes, saying everything has to be approved by the Japanese company, from content to advertising. Less than 50,000 customers have signed up for the service and the amount of content they’re accessing is on the wane. Uptake is slowing as well, which potentially causes a problem as DoCoMo requires Telstra to have 1 million users within 3 years in order to retain its license. While DoCoMo’s guidance and control over i-mode were one of the reasons for its initial success in Japan, the bureaucracy it’s reported to have implemented with Telstra can’t make things easy for the Australian company. That said, other i-mode licensees around the world seem to be seeing good growth and haven’t complained about DoCoMo interference. Telstra, though, doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to mobile content: its two previous portal efforts have also been regarded as failures.

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