Mobile phones that enable users to hook up to the Internet and surf the web, send emails and photo messages are already all the rage in Japan, and analysts now predict they are about to take Europe by storm too.

The phones are in the process of being launched on European markets, and the telecom sector hopes they will help breathe new life into the battered industry.

In Japan, Internet-based services for mobile phones have been hugely popular, with over 34 million subscribers signing up for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode service, which enables users to visit thousands of dedicated web sites and send emails and messages containing photos and sound.