iForce Heroes Program
Where Content is Still King
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as they have in North America and Europe, wireless solutions and the
mobile Internet have experienced a roller-coaster of fortunes in Asia
as well. It has taken companies like Japans DoCoMo, a subsidiary
of Japanese telecommunications giant NTT, to add some stability to the
enterprise. Over the past two years, through its i-mode service, DoCoMo
has done more than build a successful business: it has vividly demonstrated
that the mobile Internet can work.
DoCoMo launched i-mode
in February 1999, and the service proved an instant hit. For Japanese
teenagers, i-mode handsets quickly became a must have accessory,
but clever marketing attracted adult subscribers as well. And while
Americans and Europeans with WAP phones and Palm Pilots needed a dial-up
connection, their Japanese counterparts did not: from the start, the
i-mode service was always on. So successful has the i-mode
venture been, in fact, that i-mode subscribers now number more than
For Kei-ichi Enoki, Managing
Director for i-mode, DoCoMos success stems from a different concept
of the Internet. The idea of accessing the Internet from a mobile
device was not new, he explains. But we are the first company
in the world to have shown that, by creating a distribution platform
for content specially adapted for use on mobile phones, we could build
and expand our business.
Indeed, for DoCoMo, content
has been key. Currently, i-mode provides access to 1,800 custom web
sites and 47,000 mainstream Internet sites. But what is most crucial
is the way in which the content is packaged.
PCs are like department
stores, says Enoki. They have a wide selection of content,
including excellent graphic images. If you decide to make a visit, you
can stay as long as you like and explore different sites at your leisure.
By contrast, mobile phones are more like convenience stores, where
only a selection of goods are on display in the limited space available.
The contents have to be simple, but the convenience comes from the fact
that they can be accessed at any time.
Still, DoCoMo is not stopping with its successful convenience store approach to content. Last May, the company unveiled its first broadband-content prototype, which Enoki believes will help expand i-modes appeal far beyond Japan. i-mode is not specific to Japanese culture, he says. If you understand the concept of i-mode and the ways of developing business, you can succeed anywhere.