O2's i-mode - not bad at all

I finally got my paws on a i-mode handset from O2 this week, the Samsung S500i, a flip-phone that has an impressive specification.

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact the i-mode HTML specification - which allows companies to create develop i-mode-compatible Web sites - is actually a rework of c-HTML.

c-HTML (compact HTML) is a pared down version of the full HTML Web language used to create regular Web pages. More importantly, from a security perspective, is the fact that c-HTML supports the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) method of security seen on https:// Web addresses.

In plain English, this makes it a doddle to create a secure i-mode Web site that is as secure as a regular SSL-based Web page - the kind of pages that most banks use for their e-banking services.

SSL security isn't perfect, of course, but it's a damn sight easier to create an SSL-secured Web site than to rely instead of the wide range of alternative authentication and encryption systems already in use on mobile Internet services.

This explains why O2 was able to draft in support from more than 100 Web portal companies, including Egg and Norwich Union, prior to launching i-mode in the UK last month.

And contrary to some news reports, O2 i-mode handsets support access to `regular' Web pages.

I'm quietly impressed...