It's taken six years for i-mode to make its way from Japan to the UK - Riyad was at the O2 launch.
Of course i-mode isn’t just about viewing pages, and many of the content providers will expect users to download data and applications – with this in mind, the £3 per MB could start to get very expensive. To address this, O2 will be offering data “bolt ons” – this is a flat fee paid each month which can reduce the data charges by up to 50 per cent.
Continuing with the no-nonsense price plan, O2 has promised that no content provider will charge more than £3 per month for a subscription service, with many services available for a matter of pence.
Many of the launch content providers were on hand at the event to show off their wares. One that caught my eye straight off was streetmap.co.uk – a website that I use regularly when I’m trying to find locations. For me the idea of having access to the Streetmap database wherever and whenever is definitely worth a subscription fee of a few pence a month. Likewise, WeatherNews is also a pretty good service, with up to the minute weather reports from all over the world, complete with forecasts and satellite pictures. Other big names include RightMove, EGG, InterFlora and Yell.com. Although at launch location based services will not be available, O2 was keen to state that this will be resolved by November – obviously if you want to find a local Italian restaurant, it would be handy if the i-mode site knew where you were standing.
Another key feature of i-mode is that every handset will offer a push email service. That means that your mobile phone will take on a similar role to a BlackBerry – the email client will use the same data rate as everything else and seems like a great solution for someone who might need to use email on the move intermittently and can’t justify the cost of a BlackBerry. Early adopters will again benefit – there’s free email until April 2006.