Review I remember getting my first WAP phone. The hype surrounding the technology was massive and I was expecting an amazing experience. Unfortunately I was sorely disappointed, and WAP proved to be slow, poorly implemented and often expensive. One of the things that annoyed me most about WAP, was that I was well aware that the Japanese were enjoying the benefits of i-mode, writes Riyad Emeran.
Japanese network operator NTT DoCoMo had launched i-mode in 1999. It was a simple packet-based data service that allowed users to perform all kinds of tasks and access all kinds of services via their mobile phones. Not only was i-mode content rich, it was also much faster and far more intuitive than WAP. With this in mind I gave up on WAP and waited for i-mode to appear in the UK - I waited and waited and waited.
Now, six years on, we Brits are finally getting a taste of what our friends in Japan have been raving about. Yes, a UK network operator, O2, has finally stepped up to the plate and launched an i-mode service.
Launching i-mode was always going to be a tricky proposition in the UK - WAP was hardly welcomed with open arms. But O2 seems to have done everything right with this launch: handsets were available from day one, there was loads of content on offer, and the pricing structure has been made clear and simple.
NEC is one of the handset launch partners for i-mode along with Samsung, although NEC managed to get two phones to market for launch. The N411i is the high-end handset in the NEC line up, despite the fact that the cheaper and less well-featured N343i will probably outsell it, due to its iPod looks.
i-mode is great - it works brilliantly, has plenty of useful content already and is totally affordable. One of the best things that O2 has done with i-mode is put a fixed pricing structure into place - whether you're a pre-pay customer or on a contract, you'll be paying exactly the same amount for your i-mode services.
There are two costs to take into account: the data cost and the subscription cost. As is the case with all mobile Internet services, you need to pay for the amount of data you use - of course you can purchase packages that suit your usage model, so if you think you'll be using a lot of data you can pay a monthly fee that reduces the cost per megabyte significantly. But there are also subscription costs and this is where things can start to add up.