Telstra today commenced the hard launch of i-mode, following the soft launch on November 1. The number of stores set for launch is 180 Telstra stores plus 220+ resellers, and according to the press the launch is backed by a $5m advertising budget over three months.
As one report commented: "This is Telstra's third attempt at launching mobile data services (Telstra has about 46 per cent of the $11 billion a year market). In December 1999, Telstra along with its rivals launched WAP which was a resounding flop. Then, in March 2003, Telstra spent as much as $30 million on its Loop service which was planned as a spoiler to Hutchison Telecommunications' 3G launch the following month – but this too failed, attracting fewer than 50,000 users before being axed last year."
Telstra intends to retain its WAP service, which has now been upgraded and improved, although it says that the lessons learnt from i-mode will be transferred to its WAP business model, and that i-mode will "set the benchmark" for mobile content services.
- see this report of the launch in The Australian.