NTT Docomo announced today November 2, 2016 that they will end the sales of i-mode cellphones between this month November and December.
No new i-mode supported featurephone is announced so that P-01H, which was released November in 2015, would be the last i-mode cellphone for regular users.
The announcement tells that their i-mode capable Rakuraku-phone(easy phone) for elders, will continue to be sold.
i-mode Internet service began in 1999. After massive domestic success and failure of export, iPhone and Android smartphones and their app store overwrote the Docomo’s local success. Docomo says that the i-mode service itself continues. There are still a lot of i-mode cellphone users in Japan, and those fans now need to worry their cellphones becomes old and broken.
Povie by a Japanese design unit Shikake is a movie decoration service in Japanese popular “purikura” (wikipedia) style. The service is bilingual, English and Japanese.
On regular purikura, you place letters, characters and shapes over your snapshot with buttons/tablet/touch panel. However, Povie will detect your motion and decorate it automatically with “Kawaii Engine”(kawaii = cute). The decorated short movie looks like this,
You may decorate in 6 different styles: night-club hostess, gothic and lolita, mori-girl (forest-girl), teeny, celebrity-like, current Japanese mainstream.
The service is currently available on iPhone and i-Mode/i-Appli. Facebook app is also under development. How it works on Docomo cellphone is demonstrated on YouTube,
Evernote, a popular note-taking service, who has achieved a big, maybe bigger success in Japan than elsewhere, launched a new app to cover majority of Japanese cellphone users on Docomo i-mode, which is a mobile internet service subscribed by over 48 million people.
“Evernote for i-mode” [J, Docomo Market] is an i-mode Appli version of Evernote.
via Evernote Japan release [J]
There is no reason for i-mode provider NTT Docomo to give up on its highly profitable mobile Internet service for feature phones as long as it makes money, but Japan’s biggest mobile carrier is starting to change things. According to Japanese business daily The Nikkei, Docomo is moving to combine its i-mode and smartphone businesses as early as next month.
The paper isn’t giving away too many details, but says that, for example, Docomo plans to offer content (i.e. apps) available on i-mode only to smartphone users in the future. The plan is to make feature phone-only services like i-channel or i-concierge available for that target group.
Another example: In customer service, NTT Docomo had a workforce of 2,500 people handling calls from feature phone users so far. But apparently, the company wants to move up to 500 of these employees to the 250 people who have been handling inquiries from smartphone users so far.
Docomo merging its i-mode and smartphone businesses isn’t a surprise: the company expects to ship six million smartphones in the next fiscal year, more than double the amount it aims at selling this fiscal (2.5 million).
The carrier plans to release 40-50 models in the year starting April – about 50% of the new models will likely be smartphones.