i-mode love affair won't kill O2 Active portal

Autumn launch still on track

Autumn launch still on track

O2 has promised its new found love for the i-mode data platform won't see it kill off its own portal, O2 Active, which is based on WAP.

i-mode, the mobile internet platform invented by NTT DoCoMo in Japan and used by more than 45 million people worldwide, is due to launch this year in the UK. It's also seen by many as a natural successor to WAP - a potential threat to O2's own WAP portal, O2 Active.

Grahame Riddell, O2's head of mobile data marketing, said the network has no plans to kill off O2 Active.

"We will continue to support O2 Active and enhance its capabilities going forward," he said. However, i-mode will be sold as the 'premium' data service alongside SMS.

Nevertheless, O2 will be making sure its customers know that i-mode and WAP are not one and the same when the service launches.

"We will try to educate users this is not like WAP," he said. "We'll target users who tried WAP [in the past] and found it lacking in a number of areas."

Riddell also confirmed O2 was still on track to launch its service this autumn, although no official release date has been given, and details of the number of i-mode compatible handsets that will be available at launch have not been announced either.

Although i-mode has been around for years - and is already hugely popular in the advanced mobile market of Japan - O2 has held back from adopting the platform due to the range of handsets available to work with i-mode.

"The range [of handsets] is an important aspect," he said. "We didn't do i-mode before because we didn't believe the quality of handsets was sufficient."