O2 today announced the first set of figures around the implementation and success of its i-mode service, launched in October 2005. The service has seen a rapid uptake by customers that represents the fastest growing i-mode service outside Japan. The service now has 150 sites, across 13 genres with new companies joining the service including eBay, ITN News, rightmove.co.uk and Sony BMG and over 250,000 customers in just six months. Interesting facts on the service include:
· 25% of the user base is using email with their i-mode handset The development of the i-mode service in the UK is also starting to point to some interesting trends and usage patterns mirroring those found in the fixed Internet world. O2 believe that i-mode is finding its natural place in the spectrum of information services because it provides uniquely personal versions of the services that have proved so popular on PCs, as well as the conventionally popular applications of mobile technology. For example, eBay’s i-mode site is one of the top attractions on i-mode, letting people track the progress of their bids and make new bids on the move – removing the need for people to stay at home in front of their PCs in the vital closing minutes of auctions. In addition, Kelkoo’s shopping comparison site is very popular, letting people find the best prices for goods wherever they are. The success of these applications represents a shift in the application of mobile technology. Aside from successful i-mode content, O2 will also announce a raft of new handsets, over the coming weeks and months. This will bring a number of additional major handset manufacturers into the i-mode ecosystem. Grahame Riddell, Head of Content Marketing at O2 said; “We are really pleased how well consumers have taken to i-mode. It is still early days, and the service needs to mature, but we are very positive about the emerging usage trends. While some early adopters are still testing the waters with free content, many others are subscribing to multiple sites and taking full advantage of the benefits of the i-mode business subscription model. Subscriber numbers are growing fast, and that growth is being driven by the content providers who are making the fullest use of i-mode’s features. “In particular, sites that have implemented i-mail™ have attracted more subscribers than those who haven’t – clear evidence that the ability of content providers to establish unique one-to-one relationships with their customers has a positive impact on their revenues. We already know some of the developments that NTT DoCoMo are planning for the future, so we are looking at areas such as RSS feeds and IM as part of the service in the future.” The sites attracting the biggest numbers of users and subscribers are chat sites and sports sites – both big successes in the existing mobile portal worlds and are turning out to be a strong revenue-generators in the i-mode world too. In addition, gaming is very popular, with customers get substantially better value from subscribing to an i-mode games site – five games for the price of three elsewhere, for example. Finally, established online brands such as Filmnight are seeing substantially more traffic on i-mode than they are on other WAP services. Content partners are reaping the rewards too, both in terms of new customers for their new services and in terms of actual returns too. Many of O2’s i-mode content partners saw their set-up costs returned within the first month.