According to Mark Imrie, formerly Head of Products for O2 and now Head of CRM and online capability, "MMS was a technology-led service that was rushed to market". Quoted in Billing World last month, Mark succinctly explains the lacklustre performance of MMS to date. But where next? What's required for MMS to take off in 2008?
I'd say it boils down to phone design, pricing and applications, and these three are coming together nicely to form the perfect storm next year.
The clumsiness of early camera phones is history, and user interfaces (with the potential exception of Microsoft's) have evolved to make MMS a joy. Coupled with improved optics and resolution, the modern mobile phone simply teases marketers.
And then there's the cost. As operators seek to monetise MMS indirectly, via us marketers no doubt, and as they get more efficient at shifting data round their infrastructure, flat rate data tarrifs are accompanied by flat rate messaging.
Lastly, the applications. Web 2.0 has spawned new opportunities and new applications of MMS. Moblogging, photo websites, social networking, all tempt the mobile phone customer to keep in touch; and a picture paints a thousand words. And marketers aren't hanging back. My favourite stories of recent weeks capitalise on similar technology.
Universal ran a promotion for the launch of "The Bourne Ultimatum" in August tempting fans to take a photo of the ad and send it in, receiving free mobile content in return. And Craze Production, the urban music specialist, is inviting consumers to send in pictures of a CD or gig poster which, with the magic of image recognition, rewards the consumer with relevant links to ringtones, video clips, concert tickets and other information.
If MMS features in your marketing programme, I'd love to hear what you're doing.