NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., better known as NTT DoCoMo, has announced plans to add color to its i-Mode interactive cellular telephone service. The company will begin selling the first i-Mode-compatible telephone with a color display on Friday - the same day competitors DDI Cellular and Nippon Ido Tsushin launch a 64K bps data service on their CDMA (code division multiple access) network.
The new handset, the D502i Hyper, is produced by Denso Corp. and features a color STN (super-twisted nematic) LCD (liquid crystal display) capable of displaying 256 colors. It weighs 84 grams and has a standby life of 350 hours and a talk time of 130 minutes.
Coinciding with the launch of the new telephones, NTT DoCoMo also said 17 content providers will begin offering color content. They include video rental store Tsutaya, which will offer images from popular movies, and computer game maker Konami, which will offer images of characters from its most popular PlayStation titles.
NTT DoCoMo's i-Mode service is an interactive, information-based service accessible from suitable cellular handsets. Based on its 9.6K bps packet data network, the service offers access to a growing range of services, from home banking and news headlines to restaurant guides and weather reports. The system also supports Internet e-mail services and allows users to develop their own home pages.
Since its launch in February 1999, the i-Mode service has proved popular among subscribers and passed three million users at the end of 1999. Its main competitor is the CDMA service launched around the same time by DDI Cellular Group and Nippon Ido Tsushin. Although it boasts a higher data speed, the CDMA service has lacked the same coordinated, national marketing campaign that NTT DoCoMo has given to i-Mode, and users of the CDMA interactive service lag those of i-Mode.
NTT Mobile Communications Network Inc., in Tokyo, can be found online at http://www.nttdocomo.co.jp.