Yesterday E-Plus (the German share of the Dutch KPN where NTT DoCoMo, the i-mode founder, is shareholder too) announced the availability of i-mode in Germany from 16th March. In the first step, E-Plus/i-mode will offers different news and fun services from business news, to weather to ringtones (see a list of services on the E-Plus i-mode homepage (German only)).
E-Plus will charge 3 â‚¬ flat per month plus additional access and services charges like 1 Cent per Kbyte for the plane access plus additional content charges up to 2 â‚¬.
However - in 2003, E-Plus plans to migrate i-Mode from the chtml based standard to WAP 2.0. For the service launch, E-Plus plans also to launch an i-mode phone, the NEC N21i which will costs 249 â‚¬ including a 24 month contract. Later this year, additional mobile phones should follow. If also brands like Nokia, SonyEricsson, Siemens or Motorola plans to bring i-Mode devices for the GSM, isnâ€™t stated today.
Beside the i-mode launch in Germany this month, NTT DoCoMo also told today, that it plans to launch i-mode in the US too. An official date wasnâ€™t given yet but it is to be expected for end of this year.
Therefore NTT DoCoMo will use its alliances in the US with Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, AOL Time Warner and Hewlett-Packard. It is planned to use the GPRS network of AT&T Wireless to distribute i-mode.
Well, Iâ€™m not such a fan of i-mode, itâ€™s nothing different as WAP already is. Yes, itâ€™s a little bit more fancy (today) and colorful but nothing, which WAP isnâ€™t able to deliver too. From my point of view, i-mode is a business model only. It doesnâ€™t matter if you use wml or chtml as the markup language, your content management system supports both (even such basic script languages like PHP in combination with MySQL). So why to use i-mode and pay more for a handset while I can get a more fancy one (which supports WAP â€œonly") for the same price?
Anyway, if you are looking for a WAP Browser for your Pocket PC, donâ€™t forget, that the Pocket PC 2002 already supports chtml as well as EZOSâ€™ EzWAP.
Cheers ~ Arne