i-Mode: NTT DoCoMo's Wireless Data Service

By Seungjin Whang
2002 | Case No. GS28
In 1992, Japan’s Nippon Telephone and Telegraph (NTT) spun off its wireless phone service, forming NTT DoCoMo. NTT DoCoMo introduced “I-Mode,” a wireless data service in November 1998. At the time of introduction, this was a new, untested market. However, within 2 years, the service had been adopted by 18 million subscribers - 45 percent of the company’s Japanese wireless voice customers. The case describes the NTT DoCoMo’s initial product and marketing strategy, its technology, and competition. It describes the company’s business model, and future plans. It also describes the supply chain for the wireless data service business, from components, hardware manufacturing, carriers, service and software, content, to end users. This discussion includes business models at each stage, as well as the implications of new technology development. The case raises questions about the future direction of NTT DoCoMo and the wireless data industry.
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