It started with "i can buy you flowers", went through "i am big in Japan", and now the posters declare " i have arrived".
O2's i-mode service is here, but should the posters really be saying "i'm too late."?
i-mode started in Japan back in 1999. While the West was fixated by the wired dotcom revolution NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese wireless operator, and millions of Japanese school kids were already playing with the next big thing - wireless data.
In the UK mobile operators launched WAP- based services.
But WAP was stillborn, interfaces were clunky, there were minimal graphics, sites had to be converted to work with it, and operators implemented walled- gardens, keeping ordinary sites out.
While WAP faded into the background i-mode, at least abroad, went from strength to strength. i-mode provides easy access to wireless information services.
Not the internet per-se, but sites built for i-mode, with simple text interfaces and minimal graphics - in fact the current demo on the O2 site looks just like a typical WAP site circa 1999.
However, i-mode must have been doing something right as there are now an estimated 45 million i-mode subscribers worldwide.
The problem is that the world hasn't stood still since 1999.
Take WAP. While WAP 1.0 sucked, WAP 2.0 introduced graphics and push technology, and today it powers many operator portals, and ring-tone download sites.
The Mobile Data Association reports that over 1.8 billion WAP pages were viewed in the UK in March, 2005, alone.
Then there's the web itself. My Orange mobile phone has an ordinary web browser. I can search Google, read the BBC news, pick up my email.
Website owners are now using style-sheets to create mobile optimised sites - no need to rewrite for WAP or imode.
T-mobile are just launching their own "Web'n'Walk" service to encourage more users to make use of the real Internet on the move.
And as developers move from HTML to XHTML (a more formal XML based version of HTML), then profiles such as XHTML Basic for phones and XHTML+Voice for mixed text and voice will make mobile usage even better.
Finally there's cost. i-mode costs £3 a month per megabyte, but Orange and Web'n'Walk are only around £1 a month.
Why are they cheaper? Probably because they don't have to pay DoCoMo for the imode technology and branding.
For site owners it's likely to cost a minimum of £10,000 to develop an i-mode site, a site which will only be available to 02 customers. For that price almost any site could convert to stylesheets and XHTML and be available on all UK networks.
So the question has to be, why bother with i-mode?
If I can get the real internet through my mobile phone for less money, why be interested in a limited number of sites ( imode has around 100 at launch) at a dearer price?
At the heart of all this is the concept of the ubiquitous internet.
The internet may have started as a wired network, but the aim is to make the internet all pervasive.
Wherever you are you should be able to get access to it. One world, one Internet. i-mode worked, in 1999, because wireless and handset technologies just weren't up to delivering the real internet. They are now.
02 may, if they're lucky, make money. There may be enough people out there who want a "dumbed down" mobile information service, but in the long run i-mode is an evolutionary dead-end. I is for internet, pure and simple.
* David Burden runs his own information consultancy, Daden Consulting. Past articles and other musing can be found on his blog at www.daden.co.uk/blog and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org