Orange today announced the launch of its advanced new range of messaging services (MMS) with a further five Orange operations across Europe intending to launch similar services in the coming months.
More than 12.8 million Orange customers in the UK will have the opportunity to access these advanced services that move messaging on from standard text, to messages that combine colour, photos, text and sound offering a greatly enriched messaging experience via a new range of Orange MMS handsets. They will also be able to receive update messages on news, sport and entertainment with the pictures to accompany the story.
Innovative handsets such as the Sony Ericsson T68i - available with clip-on camera - will be used at launch. The Nokia 7650 is due to launch at the end of August with a broad range of handsets available in the run up to Christmas. Orange believes that wirefree devices with this capability will be used by 40% of its customers by the end of 2005. This is further endorsed by Ovum's prediction that MMS handset penetration will reach up to 50% at this time with MMS messages accounting for up to 30% of all person-to-person messaging in the same year.
David Taylor, Commercial Director of Orange UK, said: "These new messaging services open up an exciting new world for the Orange community. Our customers will be among the first in Europe to use these new Photo and Picture Content services, enabling them to communicate on a much more personal level -- from capturing the moment their child takes their first steps to taking a photo of their new sports car."
"The mobile industry is at the beginning of a new era. The network operators, handset manufacturers and the whole industry must work together to grow this market for the future. That means we at Orange will be calling for network interoperability as soon as possible. Both network and handset interoperability will be the key drivers for industry growth. The services we are launching today are just the first in a range of Orange vision-based services as we move towards video messaging, video downloads and video streaming which will also be launching in the near future."
Richard Brennan, Executive Vice-President, OrangeWorld said: "Over the last few years we have been talking about the mobile phone being used for services that are more advanced than voice communication. Now, with the launch of these advanced messaging services, we are giving our customers the ability to share experiences and create their own content. Orange offers access to a truly rich mobile experience."
"The UK is just the first country in the Orange group to launch these advanced new messaging services. It will be followed by other key European markets. Soon, customers in France, Denmark, Belgium, Switzerland and The Netherlands will also be able to experience similarly exciting picture-led services."
Orange was the first network in the UK to offer per second billing, and, continuing this innovative approach, has implemented a billing structure to ensure clarity of pricing for its customers using these new messaging services. In the UK, Orange pay monthly customers will benefit from a simple, easy-to-understand pricing structure, where they will be charged 40p per photo message sent. Orange pay as you go customers will be able to access the services later in the year
The initial Orange UK advanced messaging services available will be:
Person-to-person Photo Messaging - allowing customers to send combined colour photos, text and sound clips to other MMS handsets and email addresses. Customers with non-MMS handsets will receive a text message inviting them to view their photo message on the orange.co.uk website.
Picture content -- now allows customers to receive entertainment and information updates with images on their MMS handset. Orange customers dial 277 and select a topic (eg. sport, news, entertainment and gossip). Once notification has been given, they will then receive Picture Content messages about their chosen subject -- each message received costs 25p.
Nokia and Ericsson have been named as the preferred network suppliers across the Orange group for these advanced messaging services. Nokia will supply the infrastructure for Orange in the UK with other member companies announcing their preferred supplier upon launch.