Toshiba has launched its first handset into Europe, but you have to be Dutch, or at least live in the Netherlands,oh, and be a KPN Mobile subscriber to get your mitts on one. KPN also has subs in Germany and Belgium so we can expect TS21i handsets to tip up in these countries too.
Called the TS21i, the Toshiba-branded handset costs nothing for a two year contract, and €49 for one year. i-mode data services are free for the first three months, and prices thereafter start at 10Mb/month.
So, apart from the occasional roaming Dutchmen and women, is the UK likely to see anyone carrying the TS21i? In a word,no. Unless one of the networks plumps for i-mode. (Which would be nice for those roaming Dutch - no i-mode means no data roaming).
In Europe, Bouyges Telecom in France and Telefonica in Spain have also signed up to i-mode, a wireless data protocol developed by NTT Docomo, and in use by millions of users in Japan.
So will Tosh phones tip up in these territories - the company is not saying, but told us to watch out for announcements later this week.
Toshiba cheerfully admits that it is late into the Europe, but with a replacement market of 100 million handsets a year, it thinks there's plenty of potential for growth. It says it is working closely with network operators to bring more data-centric phones to market.
Toshiba last year made seven million mobile phones for the Japanese and North American markets. ®