Unfortunately I am on O2 so I had decided to wait for their "3G" service. Then a couple of weeks ago they launched I-Mode in Ireland. I went into one of their stores on Grafton Street last week and got to play with a couple of phones and i-Mode. The result? Well it had such an impact on me I forgot to post about it until now :-)
I may be mistaken here but its WAP. Its glorified WAP! The pages do seem to load a little faster than the current WAP/GPRS service. The content seems limited, only 80 web sites divided into categories though they will probably increase that list over time. After a couple of minutes I had looked at all the sites that I was curious about. The pages displayed looked like WML, plain and simple. Each page seemed to have a picture banner above the text story, I guess this is probably adding a nice amount to your download which would be annoying when you are paying 1c per KB.
The most telling comment I have read came from a story on ElectricNews.net
"I-mode is the world's most widely used mobile internet service," said Danuta Gray, chief executive of O2 Ireland in a statement. "Following its introduction in Japan in 1999, it drove internet penetration levels up from 18 percent to 78 percent."
It was state of the art in 1999 but today to me it's dull when compared with video calling. O2 is saying they will provide video messaging and downloads and will double the number of available sites over the next 12 months but at the moment the service just doesn't grab the attention of the gadget lover in me. After playing with i-mode I wandered over to the Vodafone shop to see if they had any new 3G phones.