Picture Messaging Slow in the UK

Although picture messaging seems very popular with troops in Iraq at the moment, the service is yet to make any impact in the UK, says a survey by NOP.

Texting took a while to take off – but look what happened when it eventually did. Network providers are hoping for much the same thing – in fact, Sicap, who provide messaging products to mobile operators are rather hoping that Euro 2004 and the Olympic games will lure customers into MMS adoption.

There are two main reasons given for the lack of messaging: 45% don’t have a handset (kind of crucial, really – and also applies if your friends don’t have any either), and 17% don’t know how to send them. Odd then, that they would go to the expense of buying such a well-featured phone. But given that I still receive text messages THAT LOOK LIKE THIS, then it’s not surprising that people only have a limited amount of patience in learning how things work.

Indeed, on the rare occasions when I venture out, there seems to be little use of picture phones in real life situations. Phone users tend to take a few snaps when they first get their new phone, but after a while apathy, privacy infringement fears and the hail of tutting from those nearby soon dampen any enthusiasm for sending your mates a picture of the great time you’re pretending to have.

“The findings of our survey highlight that we will still have a lot more to do as an industry to encourage consumers to embrace MMS in the same way as they have SMS,” said Per-Johan Lundin, Head of Marketing, Sicap. “The first goal is to drive as many MMS compatible handsets into the hands of users as possible. Secondly, the services need to extremely user friendly like Vodafone Live. But the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle is compelling content. Some of this will be generated by users themselves but a lot will need to be generated around the content that consumers are really interested in like sports.”

If picture messaging is this slow in the UK, then you can bet it’s nowhere in the US, which tends to drag behind Europe in the mobile market.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?