Japanese cellco NTT DOCOMO intends to stop selling mobile phones that operate with its i-mode internet service by the end of 2016, although it will continue with a limited number of models used mainly by elderly users. The NTT-owned carrier said that the production of i-mode phones has become more problematic due to the lack of available parts and raw materials, reflecting, it said, ‘the spread of smartphones’. DOCOMO’s i-mode service, launched in 1999 via Fujitsu, was one of the early key drivers to the expansion of the mobile market in Japan. The number of subscribers signed up to i-mode had climbed to close to 50 million a decade on from its introduction, but had fallen to around 17 million by 30 September 2016. DOCOMO confirmed that of six i-mode models within its portfolio, all but one will be discontinued as they run out of stock.