MMS conference: the standard starts to come together?

by Tom Bird | posted on 02 May 2002

Last week saw the marcusevans MMS 2002 conference in London. We have a special report from Tom Byrd, of Mobile Streams, whose staff were on the ground at the event, both speaking and observing proceedings.

Attendance for the MMS conference was high, approximately 100 people arrived on the first day to listen to 12 speakers. Good organisation and good speakers made the day both informative and entertaining. What follows are brief overviews of some of the key speakers from the second day:

Key speakers:

John Delaney - Ovum

Multimedia Strategies for Mobile Messaging

John Delaney introduced the technology and explained the evolution from SMS to MMS. He touched upon EMS, and explained how he believed it is being skipped over by MMS. He picked up on EMS being an interesting way to make money for operators, due to one EMS message costing 3 or 4 times an SMS. Whilst the network operator does not have to buy new infrastructure due to it running along the SS7 signally channel, the same as SMS. He blamed Nokia's smart messaging for the small relatively small EMS uptake.

Interestingly Ovum has estimated some revenues from MMS-based services. By the end of 2007 Ovum estimate that global revenues from MMS-based service will be:

· $31 billion for person-to-person applications · $39 billion for machine-to-machine applications

It is important to note that the only gauge we have for MMS figures is what's happening the SMS space. However MMS is miles away from SMS, just as Windows was miles away from MS-DOS. I would therefore be very sceptically about any such figures.

Key Messages:

· When a subscriber is buying content their loyalty lies with the brand, not with the network operator. E.g. If I buy a picture of my favourite football club my loyalty lies with the club, not Vodafone. My football club is seen as the service provider, not the network operator <1/> · MMS market is not fragmented like the EMS type market is, with lots of different standards and services. E.g. BREW, EMS, Smart Messaging etc

· Initial content delivery will not be OTA, but will be via infrared and Bluetooth <1/> · DRM (Digital Rights Management) is a key issue that a few companies are developing applications for E.g. Beep Science and NEC.

Lars Becker - FlyTxt

Wireless Marketing

Lars Becker used some useful case studies to show us all the power of SMS and the advantages that MMS provide to wireless advertising. His interesting examples showed how users were encouraged to send in messages that related to the product. He introduced the fact that users thought they were sending messages to the actual brand, not just a machine. This meant the service was Mobile Streams Ltd 2002 25/04/2002 MMS Conference Report

more personal than they had anticipated. They would then add the individual consumer's mobile number to a database, and send them future SMS messages about the brand, or topic that the user was interested in.

Key Messages:

· MMS marketing and advertising won't be for a few years, when critical mass is a reality <1/> · The consumer is in complete control of what messages they get sent <1/> · Many advertisers today will not use SMS due to it being black and white; therefore MMS is an important evolution for wireless marketing <1/> · Colour is a huge enhancement and has true significance to advertisers who were previously not willing to advertising using SMS.

Roger Gush - Mobile Future

New Business Opportunities for Multimedia Services

Roger made it clear that we should all learn from SMS. There are also lessons to be learned from technologies such as WAP, ISDN and also examples to emulate such as I-mode.

Key Messages: · What we call MMS is not important, it's what we tell the consumers it can do. Push the benefits of MMS not the name <1/> · MMS content is the key to success, and a good 3 rd party content developer should be found. Internal solutions rarely work <1/> · Technology advances are enablers

Juhu Lintula - Radiolinja MMS Pricing

MMS has only been launched in a few locations, and how to charge for sending an MMS message is still not clear. Juhu looked at the SMS price today and tried to compare it to what we can charge for MMS.

Key Messages:

· Simplicity matters when it comes to pricing and billing <1/> · No-one knows what to charge due to there being no market research in this area <1/> · Many network operators are going to wait until other large network operators have come up with a solid pricing structure that they can follow. <1/> Samir Khoury - Ericsson

Interoperability challenges

Interoperability is a hot topic in MMS and something that has to happen in order for MMS to be as big as we all hope it will be. Samir told us about how Ericsson are testing MMS across different manufacturer terminals and network equipment. Outlining the complexity of the interoperability problem, and all the different networks.

Mobile Streams Ltd 2002 25/04/2002 MMS Conference Report Key Messages:

· Interoperability testing has begun. This is happening with full support of vendors and manufactures

· I.O.A issues are beginning to be resolved before going to vendors

· No MMS equipment will have a stamp on it, endorsing it for use

· Interoperability ensures a seamless user experience between different terminals and nodes.


Based on the number of attendees, MMS is obviously a key area that companies are keen to learn more about. It is also apparent that there are a number of issues that need to be addressed, and it seems the industry has some way to go in order to solve these key issues.

How we market MMS is key, looking back at the lessons we have learned from other successful technologies will help us in modelling this important new technology. We must also take heed of the glaring mistakes that were make during the deployment of WAP and be sure not to fall into the same trap twice.