Monetizing Moblogs
By Carlo Longino, Thu Apr 01 18:00:00 GMT 2004

US carriers are trying to figure out how to make money with moblogs. But are they obscuring the real barrier to mass acceptance of picture messaging?

Moblogs weren't likely on the radar when manufacturers and carriers introduced cameraphones, but they've become one of, if not the most, popular use of the devices. But the unwritten part of this story seems to say that carriers think people aren't uploading images from their phones, but rather transferring them to a PC and posting them from there. That, of course, doesn't make any money for the carriers, so they're trying to figure out how they can generate revenues from moblogs.

An AT&T Wireless spokesman indicates that people still aren't comfortable with sending photos over the cellular network, both because they don't know how, but also because of pricing uncertainties. Prices differ across plans, and even depending on how photos are sent: sending one as a picture message or MMS costs one rate, while sending one as an e-mail is often charged on a variable rate, depending on its size.

One moblog company, TextAmerica, says a top-five US carrier has signed a deal to license its moblogging technology in an effort to encourage its users to moblog, and in turn, send more pictures across the network.

While moblogging has undoubtedly become easier in the last several months as new services, like TextAmerica, have been introduced, and existing blogging apps, like TypePad, have integrated moblogging tools, a carrier bundling moblog support into the devices they sell would be quite a step.

But wouldn't a better way to entice people to send MMS and picture messages be to make some progress on interoperability? Here in the States, SMS interoperability is still relatively new, so I can't imagine we're going to see MMS interconnects anytime soon. Add in the different picture-messaging standards and systems used by the different carriers, and we may never see full interconnection.

As long as users have to know what carrier their friends and contacts are on to know if they can send them photos, picture messaging isn't going to take off -- regardless of how easy carriers make it to moblog.