i-mode in the UK?

I suddenly recalled some billboard ads for O2’s i-mode launch last year and wondered: where’s the beef? I’ve been shopping around for a new handset and contract recently and don’t recall a single mention of i-mode on any of the spec sheets I’ve been reading. Maybe I’m not looking in the right price-bracket?

i-mode has been massive in Japan, thanks largely to the near monopoly that NTT DoCoMo enjoys out there. Coincidentally, as I write this I read that Vodafone has decided to pull out of Japan completely – although it’s no surprise after reports of them apparently just importing their European approach unmodified.

i-mode has also been a flexible enough platform to accomodate some pretty amazing social trends in mobile comms use out there. Examples of this being nearly ubiquitous email and personal i-Mode sites, the latter next to impossible here with WAP and most networks’ stupid walled garden policies. The former is crippled by per-kilobyte charging. So it’s not surprising that somebody has tried to push i-mode here in little ol’ Europe. But you’d think they would have tried a little harder. A prize to the first person to spot significant upsell on i-Mode in a CarPhone Warehouse near you.