Mobility

Cheat Sheet: MMS

Beyond SMS...

Oh no - not another acronym!
Yes, afraid so. MMS stands for Multimedia Messaging Service.

Which is...?
It is simply a jump up from your standard text message. MMS allows you to send pictures and sound to other mobile phones or even computers, as well as text, of course. Good, huh?

I guess so. But why would I want to use it?
The idea is that mobile operators will do deals with other companies to provide fantastic content over the service. Think cinema tickets, reviews, pictures from Warner Brothers or the big game.

Will it be as popular as text messaging?
That's the big question. At the moment in Europe only T-Mobile runs an MMS service and it requires a suitable handset. It launched it in May and is keeping tight lipped on how popular it is, although commentators believe teenagers are the main users.

When is everyone else making MMS available - they will, won't they?
Yup, most of them. (Like SMS, it's not much good if it's limited to just a few networks.) Orange is saying it will have something to offer users this summer while the rest are looking at the autumn, including O2, Virgin Mobile and Vodafone, which will have launches across Europe.

Hang on. Is it going to be really expensive?
Hmm& maybe. To use any MMS service you're going to have to buy a new handset, now supplied by Ericsson, Nokia and Sharp for between £150 and £220. Then you will have to wait and see how the operators decide to charge, although a good indication is T-Mobile's current flat rate of £20 per month. 02 said it intends to charge either 30 pence for each message or a flat rate.

30p each! That will mount up.
Don't panic! Pundits say 30p is a good price simply because it will allow users to test out the service before committing to signing on the dotted line for all-you-can-eat messaging.

But to try out the service I will still have to buy a handset, won't I?
Er& yes. Slight flaw in 02's cunning plan.

Is this another WAP then?
With all the bad connotations? There is always a chance it could be. However, we doubt operators are prepared to blow lots more cash on something likely to fall flat within six months of its launch. MMS and similar services have proved a hit in Japan and are seen as a prime way of getting people into the habit of using non-voice services of a type that will be available over 3G.

Tell us what you think by posting a Reader Comment or emailing editorial@silicon.com

**Essential Links**
From the silicon.com archive:
Lice to see you, to see you lice: STD patients get SMS reminders
http://www.silicon.com/a54708
Mobile wars: Nokia 2, Microsoft 1
http://www.silicon.com/a54502
Big Brother text voting smashes all records
http://www.silicon.com/a54457
Mobile operators in the picture for MMS launch
http://www.silicon.com/a54278

External Links:
http://www.mobilemms.com/
http://www.ericsson.com/technology/MMS.shtml
http://www.forum.nokia.com/main/1,35452,1_2,00.html

CS1

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