O2 to deploy i-Mode services this summer

31 Mar 2005

O2 Ireland is planning to unveil i-Mode mobile internet services in the market this summer. However, siliconrepublic.com has learned that Irish content providers and mobile marketing firms may not anticipate the lucrative revenue sharing agreements enjoyed by their Asian counterparts.

NTT DoCoMo signed a deal with O2’s parent company MMO2 in November to roll out its popular i-Mode service in Ireland, the UK and Germany that has sweeped Asia and is driving up average revenues per user for most European mobile network operators that have adopted the service.

I-Mode has more than 45 million subscribers using more than 6,100 official content sites in 10 countries and regions and works easily on most handset brands, including NEC, Panasonic, Siemens, Motorola and Samsung. I-Mode contains a comprehensive online mobile library of content, covering everything from 3D-based games to online shopping.

It also offers email, video clips of movies and sports, videoconferencing, real-time streaming, online banking, ticket reservations and restaurant advice. It is envisaged that the service will sit alongside O2’s existing content portal and that most existing content partnerships will remain in place.

O2 Ireland chief executive Danuta Gray yesterday confirmed the development: “We have looked at the success of i-Mode in France, Spain and Italy and its growing subscriber base in these countries. We believe that i-Mode will be very beneficial to O2 and our customers through a combination of an intuitive, easy-to-use interface with an impressive selection of handsets and a wide-ranging content library.”

At a Wireless Wednesday event yesterday in Dublin focused on mobile marketing, John O’Shea of Zamano said that the advent of services such as i-Mode may enable marketers and content developers to gain a greater slice of the mobile revenue cake than is currently the case.

O’Shea cited existing premium SMS services whereby for a 30 cent premium text message the mobile operator gets between 45pc and 64pc of the transaction and for a 60 cent premium text message the operator gets up to 48pc of the transaction.

“I-Mode will be introduced to the Irish market by O2 this summer, and this is good news for people who want to introduce new brands and potential mobile content products,” O’Shea said.

It was claimed by O’Shea at the event that unlike the punishing environment for premium messaging providers in the UK and Ireland, the arrival of i-Mode could mean the advent of models whereby 92pc of the revenues gained by users accessing content will go to the content providers.

However, Eoghan Patton, partnership manager at O2 Ireland corrected this, saying the actual figure is closer to 86pc in Japan. He said it would be unlikely that Irish content providers could anticipate such a revenue sharing model. “The model in Ireland will be specific to the Irish market.

“We haven’t decided what the payout to content providers in the Irish market will be when we launch the service,” Patton said.

By John Kennedy