The (Global) Kodak Moment
By Joachim Bamrud, Tue Dec 04 00:00:00 GMT 2001

While we wait for 3G, mobile imaging solutions are now available, offering the opportunity to take SMS to the next level.

Yes, 3G has been delayed. And yes, that's unfortunate, to say the least. Personally I was especially looking forward to the built-in cameras that could take still and moving images.

However, there is now good news on several fronts. Thanks to a joint venture between Dutch operator KPN and Japan's NTT DoCoMo (the company behind the successful i-mode service), consumers in Holland are able to use a special digital camera from Toshiba that can use mobile phones for sending photos.

The device, SnapCam, has already been on sale in Japan since early last year and offers a good interim solution before the more advanced 3G phones arrive in Europe. Users can take, edit and view photos before beaming them into mobile GSM and GPRS phones for further distribution through messaging. The photo editor includes the ability to include text or drawings as well. The SnapCam, which weighs 180 grams, can take photos with a resolution of 320x240 pixels.

The release of the SnapCam, the first concrete results of the alliance between KPN and DoCoMo, coincides with the release of the Nokia 9210, which offers advanced messaging services. In an industry dominated by hype (and anti-hype), Nokia's demonstration of beaming photos from a digital camera onto the 9210 at the 3GSM Congress in Cannes earlier this year managed to cause some stir among a largely cynical press corp.

The 9210 is Nokia's first device using its Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), offering advanced messaging capabilities. In addition to sending photos, the device offers a color screen - clearly key to the success of sending and receiving photos through mobile devices. Not surprisingly, KPN is selling the SnapCam in conjunction with the 9210 (as well as separately).

And then there's the 7650, Nokia's (and Europe's) first imaging phone with MMS as well as a camera built-in. The 7650 is also the first Nokia phone based on their new Series 60 mobile software platform.

Another "image-friendly" phone, Ericsson's T65, has also just been launched in Europe (and Asia). The color-screen phone includes a photo editor and enables users to send text messages with photos selected from an existing gallery, downloaded from a PC or saved from received text messages.

Just as important, however, the phone can use an accompanying snap-on camera, CommuniCam MCA-10. The camera, which weighs 25 grams and measures 55x48x22 mm, offers a picture resolution of 352x288 pixels. A "hip" and streaming explanation is offered Joachim Bamrud is an award-winning journalist with 17 years experience as a writer and editor in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Bamrud has worked for various print, broadcast and online media, including Latin Trade, Reuters and UPI.