Dutch cellular operator KPN Mobile has said it has signed up its 100,000th i-mode subscriber in the Netherlands, with new customers being added at the rate of 1,000 a day in the run up to Christmas. The company claims that one out of every two mobile subscriptions currently being sold is an i-mode subscription. The main catalyst for the surge in demand is apparently the recent introduction of a second compatible handset. KPN is planning to launch a third handset, the NEC n22i, on 22 December in a bid to sustain the recent growth.
Introduced in Japan in 1999, i-mode is a packet switched mobile data service developed by NTT DoCoMo. In 2000 DoCoMo acquired a 15% stake in KPN Mobile, which launched i-mode under licence in Germany in March 2002 and the following month in the Netherlands. At the end of April 2002 there were 32.6 million i-mode subscribers in Japan, accounting for 43% of all cellular users. 86% of subscribers use the e-mail function and customers are averaging just over two official content subscriptions each. i-mode services were launched by French operator Bouygues Télécom in mid-November 2002, after the company agreed a deal with DoCoMo in April. Several other European operators are keen to exploit the technology, including Spain’s Telefónica Moviles, which is due to launch services in the first half of 2003.