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People in Europe have long referred to the mobile phone as the executive's Tamagochi. The slur reflects the kind of love/hate relationship people have with their mobile phones here. Now, in a case of life imitating 'figure of speech', the Tamagochi may actually be appearing on mobile phones soon. Or will do if Lucent is successful in a new project with Bandai announced yesterday. Bandai is the company that created the Tamagochi. It has had runaway success in the past year with its WonderGate adapter and a bundled wireless data service. The device, an attachment for its PlayStation-like console, enables access to the Internet via wireless networks. Since its launch, more than one million subscribers signed up for the mobile data service for a cost of $3 per month. The adaptor allows people to play games played over the Internet with each other without hooking up to a cellphone or other terminal. Lucent hopes to stimulate wireless network services growth in the US by working with Bandai. The most popular Bandai service is a daily cartoon character that's designed as a background graphic for the i-mode phone display. (i-mode competes with WAP in Japan but has only a 9.6kbps connection speed). Other Bandai services offered in Japan include:

  • A quiz for predicting results of sporting events, currency exchanges and stock prices.
  • 'Love by Mail', in which participants can correspond with a virtual character.
  • Updated concert schedules for popular artists.
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