Chieko's Diary

Back to Contents of Issue: October 2000

chiekoWhen our research editor Chieko Tashiro started using an i-mode phone and raving about how cool it was, it occurred to us that she represents the perfect i-mode demographic: young, female, and professional. To better understand the keitai phenomenon, we asked her to keep track of how she uses the service in her daily life.

• Tried to download a chakumero, or ring melody. When Western publications say Japan is full of the sound of cell phones ringing, they're incorrect. What you hear instead are chakumero, cool little song snippets from pop songs, movie soundtracks, ad jingles, et cetera. The first thing most new i-mode users do is go to a site to download chakumero and background images (cartoon characters, cute puppies). I still haven't found a song or image that suits me.

• Visited a weather site to see if it would rain. On the way to work, I read the Nikkei News and CNN. It's nice to read the news without having to lug around a stack of paper, and on a crowded rush-hour train you need one hand for balance.

• Agh! Late for work. I called a coworker to let her know, but later realized I would have been better off emailing everyone at the same time using i-mode. She forgot to tell anyone, and the editor in chief was asking about my whereabouts. Damn. Next time I'll get it right.

• Received a voice mail message from my violin teacher. I couldn't call her back until late at night, so I emailed (m-mailed?) her to set up my next lesson. She later m-mailed me back with an assignment. Email on a cell phone has its drawbacks, though. It takes a long time to type in the letters via a tiny handset, and some characters, like the @ symbol, are hard to find. And I've got small hands. An accessory keyboard that rolled up like a piece of paper might be nice. Or perhaps simply a bigger handset. But then it would look like you had an old-fashioned phone, so they'd need to make it clear through the design that it was a hip, new kind of handset.

• Was invited to see a traditional Japanese festival (matsuri). To get there, I did a search on an i-mode service called Station Explorer Clubmy for the closest station. I also found out that you can look up the time of the last train, and the first morning train. Convenient.

• On Sunday night a friend and I decided on the spur of the moment to see a movie. I scrolled through a small-screen site called iTownpage, which lists the addresses and phone numbers of theaters in a given area, and pressed Call when I found a place nearby. The phone dialed the theater automatically and I found out that the last show started in 10 minutes. We made a run for it and got there just in time. Would've missed the movie without my i-mode.

• Called Tokyo-Mitsubishi Bank to set up my own mobile banking account. From now on I can make my payments and see my balance through my phone. M-banking?

• Went out for dinner with my best friend tonight. We hadn't been able to enjoy a nice, relaxed dinner, so I used my phone -- more precisely a small-screen site for finding restaurants -- to book a special place. Nice.


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