Goodbye, i-mode... Hello, iPhone?

1:00 PM -- The U.K.'s Telefónica Europe plc (O2) and, reportedly, Australia's Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) have quietly shelved their i-mode services, which they licensed from NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM).

This marks the end of an era for early mobile Internet services. I-mode is the mobile Internet service developed by NTT DoCoMo and launched in Japan in 1999.

O2 sent this statement to Light Reading:

    We will continue to support i-mode for the next 2 years. However, as part of a regular strategic review we will not launch any new i-mode handsets from July 2007. We will still sell existing i-mode handset models. The service has proven to be successful with rich content and high satisfaction amongst users. However, a limited range of devices has restricted its growth and we don’t see that changing. This environment is being supported by an increasing number of feature-rich devices and tariffs accessing richer content at faster speeds. I-mode is part of the evolution of the mobile Internet but not the end point. We will continue to manage and serve any existing UK i-mode customers until July 2009.
O2 is one of the European operators rumored to be in line to supply Apple's iPhone in the U.K. This definitely looks like a case of an "i" for an "i."

— Michelle Donegan, European i-Editor, Light Reading

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