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In an effort to open its service to other handset and server vendors, the I-mode specifications, including protocol stack, security, user interface, downloading and messaging information, have been made available for free download from NTT DoCoMo's Web site.
The I-mode service will be launched in Europe through the company's Dutch subsidiary, KPN, which in September announced that it has ordered 50,000 I-mode handsets for its first wave of sales.
NTT DoCoMo plans a gradual phasing-in of I-mode services into the European market; first with a launch in the Netherlands or Germany, followed by Belgium and Italy. But the fact that 50,000 handsets would only service about 1% of KPN Mobile's 5.1 million customers indicates that the companies do not expect I-mode's European debut to be an immediate or overwhelming success.
The European I-mode handset will be sold as a dual-browser handset with support for both I-mode and WAP over a GPRS network, KPN said.
NTT DoCoMo claims it has signed up 28 million subscribers in Japan since the mobile service was launched in February 1999.