iJapan, a wireless technology company addressing the global infrastructure needs of wireless carriers, consumers and content providers, today announced a new multi-language, multi-platform technology to deliver wireless content.
This patent-pending architecture/infrastructure automatically translates a Web site into the correct format for the user's subscription platform. iJapan will initially focus its marketing efforts in Japan, where wireless Web surfers subscribe to proprietary content through their cell phone carrier and can currently only access Web sites compatible with the wireless platform of that carrier.
"While most other countries are just beginning to use mobile phones for Web access, the Japanese have already integrated wireless Web access into daily life -- for everything from banking, to finding directions, to ordering travel and entertainment tickets," says Kevin Conroy, president and COO of iJapan, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington. "A cross-platform architecture compatible with all natural languages is a giant step towards bridging the gap between wireless technology standards in Japan, Europe and the rest of the world --which is very exciting."
i-mode, a wireless Web technology provided by Japan's dominant cell phone carrier, NTT DoCoMo (Non-OTCBB:NTDMY), (DoCoMo is in discussions to purchase Seattle based Voicestream Wireless Corp ) (Nasdaq:VSTR), reported a customer base of 8 million Web content subscribers in June 2000, with 20,000 new customers signing up per day. There are approximately 15,000 i-mode Web sites, with hundreds of new sites being added each week. DDI and IDO, scheduled to merge to become Japan's second largest cell phone carrier and wireless Web content provider, have more than one million wireless Web content subscribers using WAP (wireless application protocol). There are currently fewer than 1,000 WAP-enabled Web sites.
Japan is Test Bed for World's Wireless Future
People are literally attached to their cell phones in Japan, wearing the slender, light-weight and colorful "keitai" as necklaces and using them to listen to music and read newspapers on crowded commuter trains, fax maps and directions (most Tokyo streets lack names), and send e-mail and exchange photos -- without needing to know how to type. According to the Mobile Computing Promotion Consortium (MCPC), there were 60 million mobile phone subscriptions in Japan as of March 2000, and this figure should grow to 66 million, or 63 percent of Japan's population by 2001. This growth bodes well for the swelling wireless Web market, which stands at more than 10 million.
Lifestyle is only part of the reason for the unprecedented growth of wireless Web surfing in Japan. The cost of connecting to the Net through home PCs is high, and PC-based Web usage has so far attracted just 15 percent of the Japanese. Each home telephone line costs $700, plus Internet access charges run $20 per month and $2 per hour. In contrast, it can cost as little as $28 to get a cellular connection. The average i-mode bill -- based on the amount of information received, not the time spent online -- runs $15 to $21 per month, according to DoCoMo.
"Content fuels the fire of this marketplace, which is why iJapan's technology is crucial for continued growth," says Ron Erickson, Chairman of echarge and board member of iJapan. "Japan is only the tip of the wireless content iceberg as other countries will be following suit within the next few years."
Mobile Internet-access systems in Japan, the rest of Asia, Europe and North America are not currently compatible with one another. A multi-language, multi-platform engine for delivery of wireless content is a first step towards unifying worldwide mobile phone standards.
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