What is iMode?
iMode is a brand and a service of wireless Internet
connection at the touch of a button on a cell phone. NTT DoCoMo
started this service in February 1999 in Japan and obtained over six
million subscribers 14 month later.An i-mode enabled cellular phone is similar to in appearance to most
cellular phone models. One feature in particular is a four-point
command navigation button at the centre of the phone. This allows the
user to control the pointer on the display, as well as connect to the
iMode service by pressing a single button.
There are several companies that manufacture i-mode cellular phones,
including Panasonic, Nokia, Ericsson, and Sony (these models are only
available within the Asia Pacific - see Figure 1a). However, NTT DoCoMo's models are the most popular within the industry.
Features Of iMode
Users receive news and stock prices tailored their needs, send and
receive e-mail, shop online, and receive advice on good restaurants in
unfamiliar parts of town. 160 financial institutions joined online
banking through iMode and the latest interface with car navigation
system provides congestion news, localized weather forecasts and
parking updates for the ultimate in traffic information. iMode proved that wireless Internet connection is so easy.
While a PC takes more than 60 seconds to boot up Windows and connect
to the Internet, iMode needs less than 10 second to go there.
6.5 millions subscribers plus competitors’ 5 millions are 11.5
millions. This is almost equivalent to PC Internet users in Japan.
Before iMode, Japanese Internet penetration was 13.4% (1998), while
the U.S. was 37.0%. The latest survey predicts that penetration will
be 56.5% and 48.5% in 2001, respectively.
iMode's critical success factors are low costs and quick continuous
access to the Internet. iMode charges for the amount of data not for
additional minutes. A user pays for fixed charge of $3 per month and
30 cents per packet. Thus, he can leave Internet connection at free of
charges until he sends or receives data. European can tap into the Net
from their cell phones and Americans get similar benefits with Palm
VII devices. However, these systems must set up a new dial-up
connection each time a user wants to go onto the Net.The mark up language used to design iMODE is compact HTML (cHTML), a subset
of HTML 3.0 with additional tags. HTML is not used, as it's too
complicated for the small displays and browsers. In cHTML functions
like frames are removed, and therefore cards can be loaded more
quickly. CHTML can also support GIF images and can access the Internet
directly using URLs.
The java enabled imode phones are also available in the latest
versions. Java-enabled i-mode supports the Connected, Limited Device
Configuration (CLDC) of Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition (J2ME™). The
J2ME CLDC defines a minimum required complement of Java virtual
machine specifications and class libraries for small network-connected
devices. The CLDC is based on the K Virtual Machine (KVM). The KVM is
a compact, highly portable Java virtual machine specifically designed
to run on memory-/CPU-/power-constrained devices like the mobile phone
(unless specifically noted, the term “mobile phone” is used in this
document to refer to the i-mode phone). As a member of the Java 2
family, KVM shares much of the infrastructure of the larger editions
of the Java execution environment; but in order to meet the
requirements of small devices, it is optimized for these devices’
constraints. The J2ME/CLDC platform, though compact, still provides
the Java virtual machine, associated libraries, and APIs that that
DoCoMo content providers need in order to make rich, exciting
applications that the i-mode user can install on demand. "DoPa," which is DoCoMo's dedicated data communications service,
offers connections to LAN and Internet service providers by applying
this principle of packet switching to the wireless section as well.
This makes it possible to realize excellent cost performance as the
mobile packet communications system has a network configuration in
which the packet communications function is added and integrated into
PDC, which is the digital system for portable and automobile
telephones. NTT DoCoMo has launched FOMA, which is the first service in the
world based on IMT-2000. FOMA realizes clearer and more comfortable
communications environments than ever before and provides a new mobile
environment where voice, still images and video are freely handled
through the introduction of new technologies. These include
large-volume communications using broad frequency bands and
intelligent networks that can select the optimal communications rates
and paths according to the type and volume of information being
transmitted. This uses WCDMA for communication.