MMS Gets Better, Way Too Late

Sprint launched picture messaging services in the US in September 2002; T-Mobile followed two months later, and Cingular in March 2003. Only today are customers on the three networks able to send messages to each other. Picture messaging has been a tremendous flop since it was launched, not only because it was first marketed as a technology, not a service, but because operators — stupidly — thought it would be fine if their networks couldn’t talk to each other. Imagine a phone that could only call phones on the same network — wait, we’re still seeing that with 3G video calling — and how useful it would be. Little wonder then, that picture messaging and MMS failed to take off when users were expected to know if their friends were on the same network. Partial interoperability is almost even worse, forcing people to keep track not only of what networks their friends use, but to which of those networks they can send messages. It’s simply mind-blowing that it’s taken 2 to 3 years to get 3 out of 4 carriers onboard, but somehow it’s expected that all US carriers will have MMS interop by the end of the year. And the “duh” award for the week goes to the analyst that appears to be surprised that usage goes up following these agreements — you mean all those messages people have been sending have started going through?

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