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Messaging goes picture perfect

New Delhi, April 6: The cellular industry is preparing to pursue customers to shell out more to view ‘still’ pictures on their cellphones.

Short message service (SMS), the fad of last two years, is being taken over by MMS or the multimedia messaging system.

“SMS seems to lose out on the funk factor and grossly under utilises the bandwidth offered; SMS is fun, but it isn’t colourful. You can send short messages but you still cannot send pictures, videos, audio clips. Creativity is still limited to sending monochrome pixilated emotions. Then, there’s the 160 character limit,” a senior AirTel executive said.

MMS promises the ability to send colour pictures, video clips, audio clips and, eventually a whole lot more: a quantum jump from the text-only SMS service and a shift into rich multimedia content on mobile handsets.

This shift isn’t far in coming. In fact, from North America to Japan, including India, telecommunication companies are integrating MMS services into their network.

Using this technology, you could send picture postcards with phones that feature imaging capabilities, animated greeting cards, scribbles and doodles to other handsets that support MMS. The fun doesn’t stop with just making and sharing movies, audio and picture clips. MMS is just the beginning of a whole slew of services.

“There is a feel and need to capture the emotional aspect in all of us. MMS is a technology that allows you to do that. A picture speaks more than thousand words. It has not picked up in India and will take some time due to the same problems that we faced when cellular services were introduced, like high cost of handset and speed,” said Anil Nayyar, supervisory director, Bharti Telenet, who was till recently the CEO mobility of AirTel.

“But we are optimistic that it will pick up as the cellular operators are taking the initiative to educate the customers and explain the benefits,” he added.

Network operators have to upgrade their infrastructure in order to deploy MMS and devices supporting MMS have to be available too.

Additional services are also envisaged such as receiving messages with rich multimedia content from commercial content creators. Industry experts define the advent of MMS as the start of the next generation messaging services. MMS will allow for several elements within the message.

Companies around the world are jumping on to the MMS bandwagon. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo is a leader, having been in this business for some time now. In the US, all the big players have either introduced, or are in the process of introducing a whole range of services. Closer home, BPL, AirTel, Hutch, and Idea have all introduced these services in India.

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