People Really Do Send Pictures in Japan
By Eric Lin, Mon Oct 20 23:00:00 GMT 2003

New data tells the truth about the decline of SMS in Japan and the success, yes success, of picture messaging.

After last week's article recapping Cingular's MMS launch and current MMS trends, the Financial Times reported that the Japanese only send one or two picture messages per month (story now buried behind a pay-wall). As with InStat's original report, the Financial Times' opposing statistics was given quite a bit of attention on messaging sites like Picturephoning and 160 Characters.

To settle this once and for all, or at least until newer statistics are available, Pernille Rudlin has compiled the most recent statistics from Japan. She explains that SMS use has declined in Japan because it was a very limited implementation. SMS (or short mail as it is called there) is limited to 50 characters and is typically only available to phones on the same network. Because of the limitation, Japanese tend to favor long mail, which is closer to regular email and can be sent to any internet address, including those of phones on other networks. The short length and lack of interoperability would explain the demise of SMS just as well as the rise of the cameraphone.

But what about the Financial Times' claim regarding poor picture messaging statistics? Ms. Rudlin claims that data was accurate about a year ago, and cites a recent study by Infoplant of over 33,000 i-Mode users. Research found that of those who owned cameraphones, over 50% took pictures at least once a week, and over 70% emailed photos they took using their phone. These figures could at least double those figures posted in the FT last week.