NTT DoCoMo's i-Mode: Innovative i-Mode Network

NTT DoCoMo i-mode logo


NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode is a mobile Internet service that is very popular in Japan and is increasingly revolutionizing business and private lifestyles in many countries around the world. It is a global system in which operators design the compatible handsets, propose open business models to content providers, and provide them with strong editorial and usability rules. Since its launching in February 1999, 48 million people have subscribed to this service; at present, over 95,000 Internet sites provide a variety of contents.


The i-mode service was launched in Japan on February 22, 1999, attracting staggering support from cell phone users. Executive Keiichi Enoki led i-mode’s technical and overall development. The company then marketed i-mode compatible handsets with color screens in December of the same year. In 2001, DoCoMo launched i-appli, i-area, and i-motion services. The i-shot, i-motion mail, and the Osaifu-Keitai (cell phones with wallet functions) services were launched in June 2002, January 2003, and July 2004, respectively.

The i-channel service and the iD credit card brand were launched in 2005. The ToruCa info-capture function offering also started in 2005. The DCMX mobile credit service and the keyword search service for i-mode were launched the following year. The current i-mode operation support system is called CARNiVAL. Overall, i-mode made a new profitability in the maturing cell phone market and redefined mobile communications by giving users incomparable services.

Business model

The i-mode business model exemplifies ingenuity. The NTT DoCoMo platform synchronizes all of the value chain aspects, making sure that quality, content, user experience, and wireless technologies evolve at a maximum pace. The business model streamlines the billing system through bill consolidation. DoCoMo now collects fees for information access on the part of i-menu-listed content providers.


As of June 2006, i-mode has almost 47 million subscribers in Japan alone and more than 5 million in other parts of the world. DoCoMo’s partners provide i-mode worldwide through through a licensing scheme that involves mobile operators in countries such as Germany (E-Plus), France (Bouygues Télécom), Belgium (Base), Italy (Wind), Spain (Telefónica), the Netherlands (KPN Mobile), Greece (Cosmote), Taiwan (Far East Tone), Israel (Cellcom Israel), Singapore (StarHub), Ireland (O2), the United Kingdom (O2), the Philippines (Smart), Hongkong (3 Hong Kong), and Bulgaria (Globul). It became available in Romania in the summer of 2007. The global partnership is known as the i-mode Alliance.


The following are some of the i-mode handsets: NEC 411i, NEC 343i, Samsung S400i, Samsung Z320i, Samsung S500i, Sony Ericsson K610im, Sony Ericsson K550im, Nokia 6124 classic, Nokia 6120 classic, Nokia N95i, Motorola RAZR V3xx with i-mode, Motorola SLVR L6 i-mode, and Motorola SLVR L7 i-mode.

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