Internet A La I-Mode

The Japanese are wild about Web surfing on their cell phones. Will Americans catch the same wave?

In Japan they are speaking in thumbs. Everywhere you look--in restaurants and in movie theaters, on crowded trains and in taxicabs, in baseball stadiums and in university lecture halls--the New Man and New Woman of Japan walk and sit with head down, arm extended and one thumb feverishly tapping buttons on a new kind of cell phone, one that lets you surf the Web using a technology called i-mode.

For 19 million Japanese, i-mode is the preferred mode of communication. Kids are e-mailing one another pictures of Hello Kitty, the cloyingly ubiquitous national feline. Teenagers are building networks of i-friends that...

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