i-mode

It’s not very often that I write (blog) about “work” in this journal. There are too many “life” things that consume my brain cycles as I travel to and from home on the buses every day- but I would be lying if I said that some of these weren’t consumed by all things “work”. It’s when the boundary between “work” and “life” blurs so much that I find it difficult to comply with a self-imposed rule to separate the two things – especially when there are exploitable art-forms in both – as indeed there are.

Ever since I embarked on the “Genie” adventure a few years ago “work” has been a long quest to to get something that vaguely represents the Internet – on a mobile phone. And (without this sounding like an advert on behalf of my employer) for the last 18 months I have been working on a project (in both my “work” and “life” time) that I really believe represents a step towards this most personal of missions – and that thing is something called “i-mode

i-mode is arriving soon

i-mode has been incredibly successful in Japan over the last 5 years – and its success has been reproduced in many European countries as well. The i-mode service will arrive in the UK and Ireland over the next few weeks too.

I don’t have enough space in the margin of this journal to explain why the Internet as we know it on PC/laptops/TV-sets hasn’t been able to cross-over onto mobile phones so readily. Some of the reasons are obvious – some aren’t. And this is despite the fact that “WAP” technologies have been around for a while – and some WAP services are really popular. But whilst the vast majority of people are absolutely comfortable using their mobile phones to make and receive voice calls, and send and receive text messages, the vast majority do not use their mobile phones to browse Internet content or send and receive emails.

The challenge for the industry has mostly been one of “usability” and “performance”. For the price you pay – it’s really hard to figure out how to get online – and it’s sometimes a really slow, poor experience doing so. Also, mobile phone operators have far too often been preoccupied with the concept of “walled gardens” in WAP – which have limited the customer choice for content browsing- and often penalising the customer for venturing “off-portal” for Internet content by charging very high prices. Even the manufacturers of mobile phones have not made it easy to get online. Heck: do you know how hard it is just to find the menu option that allows you to type a URL to go to on a mobile phone?

Hopefully – it will be a lot easier with i-mode. A good next step.

Anyway – I’ve produced a musical video demonstration of the sorts of things that you can do your i-mode mobile phone in the UK soon. It’s a 3.5 minute Windows Media Video (WMV) file – just under 6 megabytes in size. I have tried to keep the file size down by limiting the video to 15 frames per second at 320×240 frame size – which should be fine for viewing on most PDAs as well as PCs. If you have broadband DSL or cable it should only take a few minutes to download. Just do a RIGHT-CLICK and “SAVE TARGET AS” on the “Windows Media” icon below.

Download the video file on the left to your computer by doing a “right click” and “Save Target As” to a folder of your choice.

In the video – you will see how easy and fast it is to get into i-mode – and how fast it is to go browsing for content and send and receive emails – as well as an example of sending pictures to Flickr. Some parts of the video are speeded up so that you don’t have to spend ages watching my helpful assistant type out stuff on the mobile phone – but the critical parts of the demo are played back in real time (next to my ticking watch) – so that you can witness how fast the service is.

The background music is a track called “Hole in the head” by a local-to-my-neighbourhood girl-band called “Sugababes” – who made it big in the UK in the last couple of years. Turn up the volume and enjoy!

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