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i-Mode's international failure down to lack of central control?

Access Co. CTO points to DoCoMo's restricted control over overseas implementations

The CTO of one of the key technology firms behind i-Mode, Access Co's Tomihisa Kamada, has indicated that he believes that the lack of DoCoMo control over the implementation of the technology overseas has led to its poor performance outside Japan.

Speaking in Beijing at the ATRE 2006 summit, Kamada-san said that the advanced content platform technology, which dominates the mobile content market in Japan, had been hindered overseas because DoCoMo was restricted by its partnership agreements with other network operators in those regions.

NTT DoCoMo, the largest Japanese mobile network operator, created the i-Mode standard with the help of technology firms including Access Co, but licensed it to local operators - including the UK's O2 - in other regions.

According to Kamada-san, the failure of i-Mode to have a significant market impact in these regions can be explained by looking at how carefully DoCoMo controlled the Japanese market, where it held sway over handset manufacturers and was able to subsidise expensive handsets and other aspects of the business.

In other regions, DoCoMo has been unable to force its partners to do likewise, leading to roll-outs of the technology which have been seriously hindered compared to the Japanese launch, he said.

Kamada-san's comments, which were reported by imodestrategy.com, were backed up at the same simmit by Globis Capital Partners boss Yoshito Hori - who told the audience that i-Mode had failed overseas because exporting telecoms infrastructure into other territories is too complex.

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