On February 22nd, 1999—that's 18 years ago yesterday—NTT DoCoMo held a press conference to announce the launch of i-mode
. It was the world's first mobile Internet just barely, but definitely the world's first successful
It's European competitor, WAP
, didn't have its first functioning site until October of that same year, whereas i-mode launched with the full participation of Japan's major banks—an anecdote I remember reading in a chronicle by i-mode creator Mari Matsunaga
. Living in Canada meant that yours truly had to first sample WAP on a Nokia 7190 in the spring of 2001, before his first true taste of i-mode in Tokyo that summer. At the time there was maybe one English-language i-mode site, The Daily Yomiuri
, and I distinctly remember the geeky delight of scrolling through its headlines on my rented Japanese keitai, while sipping coffee at the restaurant of my hotel... LIKE A BOSS.
If you thought an archaic small-screened Internet was Japan's only contribution to mobile technology, you're about to get schooled by Akihabara News
. These other innovations also came from the land of the not-too-distant future:
The first camera phone;
The first mobile wallet and mobile payment services;
Unfortunately I don't have any sake on hand, so I'll instead raise my morning cup of coffee in a toast to i-mode, and the other wonderful things it enabled.
Sources: Akihabara News
, Wikipedia (1