mmO2 is set to launch a new range of multimedia messaging services (MMS) across of all its European territories from autumn 2002, it was announced today. It has also today selected Nokia as its preferred technology partner under the terms of a letter of intent signed by the two companies. Contract signature will follow the satisfactory conclusion of detailed negotiations.
MMS will greatly enhance existing text messaging (or 'SMS') services and will revolutionise the mobile communications market.
Customers with MMS-enabled handsets will be able to compose their own multimedia message, comprising a mix of personal photographs, pictures, sound recordings as well as text and send it to another mobile or email address. They will also be able to access the O2 portal to download images from a photo album and image bank. A range of multimedia text alerts covering sport, entertainment, gossip, news, travel and weather will also be offered.
The service will be marketed to consumers and business users, emphasising compelling content and applications, ease of use, competitive pricing and comprehensive in-store customer support. mmO2 plans to remove some of the charging complexity of other competitive offerings by introducing two simple tariff choices. Customers will be able to select either a pay-as-you-use service, which is likely to cost from around 30 pence per message, or opt from a range of bundled services, giving a number of messages for a flat rate fee.
Customers will access the service using a range of devices, including the Nokia 3510, 7650 and 6610, the Ericsson T68i, and the Sharp GX-1. Pricing for MMS-enabled handsets will be announced at launch, however indicative pricing has been set between 150 and 220 pounds. These will be made available across all its territories, including the UK, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.
mmO2 is working with established media brands and innovative new media start-ups to attract a wide range of MMS content. It has already signed deals with Arsenal and Bayer Leverkusen football clubs, Hallmark, Ringtones Online and Warner Bros. (via Motorola) and has more in the pipeline. mmO2, through its rapid development centre, Source O2, will also continue to work closely with third party application developers on MMS. To date, there are more than 7000 registered members of Source O2.
mmO2 believes that the appeal of MMS services and devices will drive the uptake of GPRS medium-speed mobile data connections, resulting in important new revenue streams for both operators and content providers.
Kent Thexton, chief marketing and data officer, mmO2, said: "We believe that MMS has mass appeal - from teenagers and parents exchanging photographs and experiences to business users sharing product information. Customers will be able to send a message incorporating unique and spontaneous photos and sound to share with friends and family for little more than the cost of a first class stamp. MMS is a natural evolution of the strong SMS trend."