Sending Successful Messages
By Eric Lin, Mon Sep 29 21:30:00 GMT 2003

Is network interop the key to MMS success? Two articles agree that it's a start, but both contend that content users actually crave is what will put MMS on top.

Frost and Sullivan released a report today (link courtesy of Picturephoning) detailing how the lack of network interoperability is hampering MMS growth in North America. This should not surprise Americans, who can't be sure their contacts have MMS capable handsets, let alone whether they can receive an MMS even if they do. The report brings up that this same situation caused the slow uptake of SMS and that operators are working hard to nip incompatibilities in the bud this time around.

The report goes on to imply what was said by T-Mobile Picture Messaging Product Manager Brad Rees in the Guardian this morning. According to Rees, as well as the Frost and Sullivan report, MMS will need quality content to succeed. Rees claims most marketing and entertainment content is missing the mark, and that spending some time with users would illuminate content providers as to what is really wanted.

Although premium content will certainly be an important part of MMS success, what about person to person messaging? The Frost and Sullivan report points out that interoperability was key to the success of SMS, and that it is a major factor for MMS success. This is only relevant for personal MMS, as commercial MMS will no doubt use email-style gateways. We can also look at the huge success of sha-mail (picture email) in Japan, and at least consider that the same thing could happen in the West.

Picture messaging will not be appropriate for all personal messages. However since phones are about communication, it is unlikely that carriers will be able to sell subscribers on MMS unless they can actually use it with their contacts. Then premium content will certainly serve to boost MMS users and revenue.