This was a unique way of connecting people to the internet and to each other which took everyone by storm. Young teens and adults were the main target market a market that had a high priority to stay connected with friends and groups but didnt have the proper means to. The cheapest way of being connected was the internet and the target market mostly didnt even own PCs or didnt have the time or capacity to afford the more mobile versions of a PC (PDAs, Laptops etc. ).
This created a window of opportunity for DoCoMos i-mode in the sense that it provided users with a way to connect with each other without the hassle and expenses associated with owning a laptop or a PC. The target market being adults in 1999 had grown up by 2002. Competitors followed and gave i-mode a hard time as well. With the WAP standard becoming faster and cheaper, the new generation, which preferred media content more over simple text based content was switching to providers who were providing higher data speeds and more elaborate options such as video calls, Multi media messaging etc. ence DoCoMos main customer base was changing due to the advancement of time and change in preferences. Customers were no more interested in just services and fluff as i-mode started. They wanted more. Apart from a shifting market, i-mode was also facing other challenges. First of all, the up coming markets usage rate was a lot less than the previous ones. This meant lesser revenue per user. Secondly, competition was increasing by the day.
Even though i-mode was still the leader with 60% market share, firms like KDDI and J-Phone had come up with more exciting packages, better offers and better handsets with market shares at (and growing) 24% and 17% respectively. Policy changes at the national level too were forcing i-mode to make changes that were estranging it form its content providers and resulting in lesser profits due to the new, lesser monthly charges that were to go into effect soon. The marketing techniques used in the past by i-mode were effective in capturing their target market.
Keeping in mind the changing market conditions of the present, those techniques will not work as effectively anymore. The new market needs something better. The reason competitors are speeding ahead is because the new services and cell phone models they have to offer. First of all i-mode will need to launch better phones and services that come with things like internet connectivity as standard rather than an exclusive service. Current advancements have ensured that internet connectivity is not an exclusive offer anymore, everyone is providing it. I-mode will have to yet again identify something unique.
Marketing techniques again will have to be designed according to that new product offering. Furthermore, marketing techniques should not exclusively just target the youth. The reason being that the market matures too quickly (goes beyond the age bracket of youngsters adult ages have a bigger cohort) and does not have the spending power that adults have either. Hence the marketing techniques and offering should be tailored to account for these issues as well. I-mode became popular in Japan but it cannot be replicated in other countries due to various reasons. The foremost reason being the paradigms dominant in other countries.
Some markets prefer voice calls over text messaging and others prefer text messaging instead. Content providers in other markets do not see i-modes business model as a profitable opportunity either hence it is tough to implement the same structure where there are issues regarding the markets preferences as well as the suppliers. Hence, i-mode will have to tailor their product offering and marketing techniques according to the country they are entering. This is currently an issue that DoCoMo realizes and will hopefully tailor itself accordingly in order to enter new international markets.