• Japan


Co. and trading house Itochu Corp. said Wednesday they will launch a joint trial service linking DoCoMo’s multimedia cellular phones with beverage vending machines in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Odaiba districts in September.

After subscribing via i-mode, DoCoMo’s cellular-based Internet service, users will be able to buy drinks without cash and use various services at special Coca-Cola vending machines on streets.

The vending machines will be equipped with a color display and printer, and will identify subscribers to the service, dubbed Cmode, by scanning graphic patterns appearing on phone displays.

The machines will also print documents such as maps, tickets and discount coupons.

Members can settle payments via an online prepaid account that can be added to by depositing coins in the machines.

I-mode users will be also able to download images and music through Cmode-compatible vending machines.

The three companies plan to set up 25 vending machines, mainly in Shibuya, in September. They hope to expand the service to 150 machines in 10 major cities by the third quarter of 2002.

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