Cingular Hops on the MMS Train, Just as It's About to Leave Station
By Eric Lin, Tue Oct 14 19:00:00 GMT 2003

On Friday Cingular finally caught up to the other big GSM networks in the US and launched MMS services for all enabled handsets. Previously, Cingular customers could only send picture messages using email over GPRS.

Like many European operators, Cingular is offering a few months of unlimited messaging for a small flat fee (of USD 2.99) to lure in users. Once they are well addicted, standard pricing will take effect mid-January. Cingular have not made any comments on interoperability with other carriers yet, however they have implemented a system whereby users of other carriers or incompatible handsets are sent a message (an SMS, we assume) notifying them there is an MMS waiting for them at a URL.

According to RCR Wireless, The Yankee Group has put their stamp of approval on MMS predicting that it will grow 100 times in revenue by 2007. They claim that picture messaging revenues were USD 8 million in 2002, and that they could grow to $900 million by 2007. We wonder how carriers made that much off picture messaging last year when most didn't even launch the service until last Fall, or late summer at the earliest.

Even if the 2002 numbers are generous, the 2007 revenues could be realistic by our math. The Yankee group predicts 31 million MMS users by 2007, which is only one quarter of current US cellular subscribers. If each of those MMS subscribers paid $30 a year (2.50 a month) for MMS services, we could reach $900 million in a year.

An InStat report from Japan has found MMS to be so popular that SMS usage is actually decreasing in favor of media-rich messages. If MMS catches on like this in the US, dare we say the Yankee Group's predictions might even be conservative?