THINGSText: Jiro Ohashi

In Japan, most people are interested in mobile phone and it’s been featured in not only business magazines, but also in general and fashion magazines. i-Mode was started by NTT Docomo last spring. This is, in brief, a ‘mobile phone which finally allows users to connect to the Internet’.

I used to think like that, but seems its true nature is different. ‘i-Mode’ is a local network medium, not ‘the Internet’ as a global network. The Docomo staff say positively that ‘i-Mode is not the Internet’. It’s no more than a service which provides content only in Japan, making use of the mobile phone.

I had a chance to meet Hajime Tachibana, producer of the ‘The END’, the first artist channel of i-Mode. ‘The END’ has started this August as one of the official sites of i-Mode. Many artists like Hajime Tachibana, Tadanori Yokoo, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Akira Asada and Sayoko Yamaguchi are involved in this site and provide content like ringing melody, waiting picture and text.

From left; Tadanori Yokoo, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Akira Asada, Sayoko Yamaguchi

In the beginning, most of i-Mode’s content was geared around institutions like banking, trade and news, but entertainment channels, the so called ‘artist channels’, are increasing this year and other content are getting enriched. Japanese popular singers (or idols) are regarded as ‘artists’ in i-Mode. Given this situation, the appearance of The END may show the stability of i-Mode as a medium.

The appearance of the real ‘artist’ channel from passable design and content is an expression of its recognition to the world. The END provides ‘music’ as ringing melody, ‘graphic’ as waiting picture and ‘text’ as review, essay and core information.

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